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College  | Story  | 2/21/2024

DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: Feb. 21

Nick Herfordt     
Photo: Brayden Woodburn (Tampa Athletics)
With this being the first in-seasons rankings update, early results were treated with caution. Nevertheless, there has already been a change atop one of the divisions. Not so much because one of the leaders has played poorly, but because the number two team has been so strong.   

NCAA DII 



Angelo State’s national title defense has not gotten off to a great start. They began the year with a trip to Eastern New Mexico State, a team which hasn’t had a winning season since 2017, and could only manage a split with the Greyhounds. They got back on track against Cameron with four easy wins, but went 2-2 once again last weekend at UT Permian Basin, who hasn’t had a winning season since 2015.

That’s not to say ASU is looking shabby out of the gate. They’re not. Three of their four losses were by a single run and all were on the road. They are batting .319 as a team and the staff has a 3.88 ERA - which are both quality numbers. Both will improve as the season progresses. It’s doubtful catcher Tripp Clark can get much better though. He is batting .452 with four home runs with two doubles and two triples to start the season. He’s also already stolen seven bases.  

The Rams host a solid UT Tyler team this weekend. Their games against the Patriots will be a better measuring rod of their ability to be the first team to win back-to-back titles since Tampa accomplished the feat in 2006/07.  

Speaking of the Spartans, the perennial power has taken over the number one position in the DII rankings with a spectacular start. They won all three of their games at the Houston Winter Invitational by at least 10 runs which included two wins over ranked teams (Millersville and Central Missouri). Next they outscored previously thirteenth ranked Newberry 44-5 in a three game series and easily swept Georgia College last weekend. For the first nine games of the season UT has outscored opposition 116 to 25.

Other notable moves in the rankings were by a pair of Conference Carolina clubs who each jumped up ten positions. UNC Pembroke has been an offensive juggernaut to start the season. They haven’t scored less than eight runs in their first ten games and have plated 15 or more runs six times. Young Harris has reached double-digit runs in six of their ten games and won a statement series at Columbus State last weekend. 

DII Top 25 Update

Rank Prev NCAA  State Record Week
1 2 Tampa Spartans FL 9-0 9-0
2 3 North Greenville Crusaders SC 9-1 3-0
3 11 Point Loma Sea Lions CA 8-2 4-0
4 1 Angelo State Rams TX 8-4 2-2
5 4 Colorado Mesa Mavericks CO 5-3 3-1
6 7 West Florida Argos FL 6-2 1-1
7 17 UNC Pembroke Braves NC 10-0 4-0
8 8 Central Missouri Mules MO 9-2 4-0
9 9 Mount Olive Trojans NC 5-2 2-1
10 10 Augustana Vikings SD 0-0 0-0
11 21 Young Harris Mountain Lions GA 9-1 3-1
12 6 Seton Hill Griffins PA 1-2 1-2
13 5 Cal State Monterey Bay Otters CA 4-4 0-0
14 12 Millersville Marauders PA 4-2 2-1
15 19 Lenoir-Rhyne Bears NC 9-2 2-1
16 14 Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes CA 7-3 2-1
17 24 Missouri Southern St. Lions MO 10-2 4-0
18 18 Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes GA 7-3 3-1
19 NR West Texas A&M Buffs TX 10-2 3-1
20 NR Rollins Tars FL 5-3 1-1
21 NR Francis Marion Patriots SC 6-3 2-1
22 20 Minnesota State Mavericks MN 1-2 1-2
23 15 Barry Bucs FL 5-5 3-0
24 16 Texas Tyler Patriots TX 6-6 2-2
25 13 Newberry Wolves SC 2-8 1-4

Drop: Columbus State (23), Quincy (25), West Georgia (25)


NAIA 

There haven’t been too many shocking starts in the NAIA early season. Bellevue hasn’t been great out of the gate, but all of their losses were to ranked opposition. It’s not uncommon for the Bruins to need a couple extra games to get on track. The winter weather was especially brutal in the Omaha area and their bats may need to warm up a bit. Tennessee Wesleyan had a rough start as well. They went 1-3 in the East/West Challenge and had losses to IU Kokomo and Montreat early. The Bulldogs have 2-11 Columbia International on this week’s schedule which should get them on track.

Two teams which have impressed early are Loyola and USAO. The two teams were at the tail end of the preseason rankings, but are both in the thick of them now. The Wolf Pack has a perfect 9-0 record with some solid wins fueled by dominating starting pitching. Three-time All-SSAC pitcher Stephen Still can already start clearing out room for a fourth honor. In 14 ⅔ innings he has struck out 23 batters with only three walks. Brady Bowen has a 2.40 ERA in three starts while holding opposition to a .200 average.  OSAO has a sweep over McPherson and won two of three against Bellevue last weekend.

On the precipice of being ranked for the first time in the Perfect Game Top 25 rankings are the OUAZ Spirit. After winning their opening series over Taylor, the young program swept the College of Idaho and Bethesda.  Last weekend they won the opener against Hope International, but the Royals won the series. They play Arizona Christian this week. 

A player to point out in the NAIA is Southeastern pitcher Darien Smith. He has been absolutely silly this season. In 23 innings he has only allowed nine hits while striking out 38. His ERA is 0.39 and opposition is batting a feeble .110 against him. 


NAIA Top 25 Update

Rank Prev NCAA  State Record Week
1 1 Southeastern Fire FL 11-1 2-1
2 2 Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies GA 10-1 3-0
3 3 Lewis-Clark State Warriors ID 3-1 0-0
4 4 William Carey Crusaders MS 7-3 2-1
5 9 LSU Shreveport Pilots LA 11-1 3-0
6 7 Cumberlands Patriots KY 6-1 4-0
7 8 Missouri Baptist Spartans MO 7-3 2-0
8 10 Faulkner Eagles AL 8-2 3-0
9 6 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs TN 6-5 2-1
10 12 Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes KS 7-2 2-1
11 18 Vanguard Lions CA 8-4 3-0
12 22 Doane Tigers NE 6-0 2-0
13 24 Loyola Wolf Pack LA 9-0 3-0
14 25 USAO Drovers OK 7-4 2-1
15 21 Central Methodist Eagles MO 8-2 3-1
16 5 Bellevue Bruins NE 4-6 1-2
17 17 Indiana Wesleyan IN 3-2 1-1
18 13 Concordia Bulldogs NE 2-3 1-1
19 14 Hope International Royals CA 8-6 2-2
20 11 Taylor Trojans IN 3-7 1-2
21 15 Columbia Cougars MO 7-3 1-1
22 20 Point Park Pioneers PA 5-2 1-2
23 23 MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers KS 6-4 2-0
24 19 Benedictine Mesa Redhawks AZ 4-4 1-0
25 16 Reinhardt Eagles GA 5-6 2-2

NCAA DIII

With a slew of schools in the northeast, the DIII season is still emerging from hibernation. Only ten of the 25 teams in the rankings have played games so far and not have played more than six. As a result there isn’t much to report. Until March the school’s schedules are pretty thin.

Keep an eye on the Sagehens. Big things were expected for Pomona-Pitzer last year, but they finished a pedestrian 21-19. Maybe 2024 will be the season they emerge. They started the season with a road series win over East Texas Baptist and kept it going at home with a sweep of Linfield. 

DIII Top 25 Update

Rank Prev NCAA  State Record Week
1 1 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays MD 0-0 0-0
2 2 East Texas Baptist Tigers TX 3-3 2-1
3 3 Endicott Gulls MA 0-0 0-0
4 4 Shenandoah Hornets VA 3-1 1-1
5 5 Marietta Pioneers OH 0-0 0-0
6 6 Eastern Connecticut Warriors CT 0-0 0-0
7 7 Rowan Profs NJ 0-0 0-0
8 8 Lynchburg Hornets VA 2-1 2-1
9 9 Misericordia Cougars PA 0-0 0-0
10 12 Salisbury Seagulls MD 3-0 3-0
11 11 UW LaCrosse Eagles WI 0-0 0-0
12 14 Christopher Newport Captains VA 4-0 4-0
13 13 Salve Regina Seahawks RI 0-0 0-0
14 10 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 0-3 0-3
15 19 Birmingham-Southern Panthers AL 2-1 2-1
16 16 Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets OH 1-0 0-0
17 15 Denison Big Red OH 0-0 0-0
18 17 Case Western Reserve Spartans OH 0-0 0-0
19 18 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 0-0 0-0
20 20 Aurora Spartans IL 0-0 0-0
21 21 Montclair State Red Hawks NJ 0-0 0-0
22 22 La Verne Leopards CA 0-0 0-0
23 23 Benedictine Eagles IL 0-0 0-0
24 24 Washington Bears MO 3-0 3-0
25 25 Buena Vista Beavers IA 2-1 2-1