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College  | Rankings  | 4/24/2024

DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: April 24

Nick Herfordt     
Photo: Jack Hines (Augustana Athletics)
It’s far better to be on a hot streak at the end of the season rather than the beginning of the year. As a result the three teams spotlighted with the latest rankings are in a perfect position for a deep postseason run. The trio have won a combined 43 games in a row and none of them have lost a game this entire April. To make matters worse for their opposition, the three were also predicted to be title contenders before the season started. Each were each positioned in their respective division’s preseason top ten and they have together amassed 95 wins so far this season.


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Tampa Spartans FL 37-4 3-0 1
2 Central Missouri Mules MO 40-5 4-0 2
3 North Greenville Crusaders SC 36-10 3-1 3
4 Point Loma Sea Lions CA 33-8-1 4-0 4
5 UNC Pembroke Braves NC 34-12 3-1 6
6 Young Harris Mountain Lions GA 36-9 5-0 9
7 Augustana Vikings SD 33-6 6-0 10
8 St. Leo Lions FL 34-6 4-0 12
9 Missouri Southern St. Lions MO 36-11 3-1 8
10 Angelo State Rams TX 32-14 2-2 5
11 Mount Olive Trojans NC 32-12 3-1 11
12 Millersville Marauders PA 33-9 2-2 7
13 Colorado Mesa Mavericks CO 29-13 3-1 13
14 East Stroudsburg Warriors PA 34-6 4-0 15
15 Ashland Eagles OH 34-6 5-1 14
16 Lander Bearcats SC 35-11 4-0 17
17 Lee Flames TN 34-12 3-1 19
18 Lubbock Christian Chaparrals TX 32-14 2-2 20
19 Catawba Indians NC 34-12 2-2 16
20 Seton Hill Griffins PA 28-12 4-0 23
21 Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes GA 32-14 3-1 24
22 West Texas A&M Buffs TX 33-13 2-2 22
23 Westmont Warriors CA 31-12-3 2-3 21
24 Barton Bulldogs NC 32-12 0-3 18
25 Saginaw Valley State Cardinals MI 28-12 2-2 25

On a chilly overcast Saturday in late March, Augustana lost a pair of games to Minnesota Crookston. The wins were particularly memorable for UMC as Jake Hjelle, the 2023 NCBWA Division II Player of the Year, hit a walk-off three run home run to propel the Golden Eagles to victory in the opener, and it was the first time Crookston had ever swept the Vikings. 

Losses like that are the type that can be hard to come back from. Yet instead of derailing Augustana’s promising season, they seemingly set them straight. The following Wednesday Augustana tallied a baker’s dozen worth of runs over Southwest Minnesota State in a 13-6 win. The victory would be the first of what would become a program record 16 straight wins. The Vikings have improved their record to 33-6 and moved up to the seventh position in this week’s Perfect Game DII rankings. 

As impressive as their record has been this season, their winning ways of late are not a surprise. Augustana advanced to the DII Baseball Championships last year and returned much of the roster which helped them earn the second-most wins in program history and win their third NSIC Championship in four years. Every position from last season returned for this spring, as well as an experienced, top-notch pitching staff which has become the calling card of Head Coach Tim Huber’s teams.

Offensively Jack Hines and Drey Dirksen have been phenomenal. Hines led the team with a .350 batting average and stole 20 bases in 2023. Currently he is one of DII’s top hitters overall for both average and power. He is batting .445 with eight doubles, five triples and a team leading 17 home runs. He has also continued to be a menace on the basepaths with 13 stolen bases. His current home run total has matched the number Dirksen hit last year when he established a new school single season record. Dirksen has been just as formidable this season and is batting .339 this year with 12 doubles, and his 15 home runs to-date have put him atop the Augustana all-time home run list. The pair have also propelled the team on defense. Hines is the team’s shortstop who has only made six errors on the season. Dirksen is a catcher with a high ability to catch and throw with a solid arm. The pair, along with Max Mosser who is hitting .392, are helping Augustana maintain a .323 team batting average headed into the postseason.  

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings’ pitching has been phenomenal. They have a 3.59 team ERA despite playing in the offense friendly NSIC. The next closest team’s ERA is 5.00 - well over a full run higher.  Mariano Gomez and Ashton Michek have been spectacular as starters. Gomez is a big lefty from Honduras who somehow has found his stride in chilly South Dakota. He has struck out 60 batters in only 36 innings with a 2.00 ERA, and only allowed 24 hits for a .183 average against him. Michek has a 7-1 record with a 2.15 ERA after becoming a fulltime starter. His 68 strikeouts, amassed in just 54 ⅓ innings, lead the team. The Viking also have  sixth-year senior Caleb Saari on staff. He has thrown three complete games, has held opposition to a .210 average in just under 50 innings pitched, and has a 3.44 ERA.  Reliever Will Henry has only allowed eight hits in 15 ⅓ innings with a 1.76 ERA and 25 strikeouts with only a pair of walks. 


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Southeastern Fire FL 41-5 5-0 1
2 Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies GA 39-6 4-0 2
3 Cumberlands Patriots KY 40-5 4-0 3
4 Webber International Warriors FL 39-9 3-1 4
5 Missouri Baptist Spartans MO 33-9 3-1 6
6 Central Methodist Eagles MO 38-7 4-0 7
7 LSU Shreveport Pilots LA 35-7 3-0 8
8 Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes KS 38-8 4-0 9
9 Lewis-Clark State Warriors ID 31-9 4-0 11
10 Hope International Royals CA 35-11 4-1 10
11 Faulkner Eagles AL 32-21 2-2 5
12 William Jessup Warriors CA 36-9 5-0 15
13 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs TN 30-15 3-0 13
14 Bellevue Bruins NE 34-11 4-0 14
15 William Carey Crusaders MS 27-14 1-2 12
16 Loyola Wolf Pack LA 35-12 4-1 16
17 Mid-America Christian Evangels OK 32-10 3-1 17
18 Doane Tigers NE 33-9 4-0 18
19 Reinhardt Eagles GA 31-14 3-1 19
20 Oklahoma City Stars OK 29-14 3-0 22
21 Concordia Bulldogs NE 31-12 2-0 21
22 Taylor Trojans IN 33-13 4-0 23
23 Benedictine Mesa Redhawks AZ 31-12 3-2 20
24 Tabor Bluejays KS 32-11 4-0 24
25 Ottawa (OUAZ) Spirit AZ 31-15 4-0 NR
DROP Freed-Hardeman Lions TN     25

Despite a number three Perfect Game preseason ranking, perennial NAIA baseball bully Lewis-Clark State did not look like they’d be headed for a 20th national title early in the season. In mid March they had a bit of a “meh” 12-7 record which  improved to 19-9 by the end of the month - not too shabby, but nowhere near the neighborhood of the marks Southeastern and Georgia Gwinnett had been putting up. LCSC also had only managed series splits to Oregon State and College of Idaho and surprisingly lost a series to Bushnell.  Currently, the Warriors are looking to go undefeated in April. They’ve won 12 in a row which includes four remarkable wins over then #2 LSU Shreveport, and another quartet of wins over a very good British Columbia team last weekend in Canada. They’ll be looking to extend their streak, and get payback against Bushnell, at home this weekend.

Third baseman Dominic Signorelli is having another splendid season after starting every game last year and leading the team in runs, doubles and triples. He has a .314 average and with 13 doubles and a team leading 14 home runs.  He’s also one of four players on the team with double-digit HBPs to push his OB% to a lofty .487. Transfer Brandon Cabrera has helped the team overcome the loss of last year’s World Series MVP Isaiah Thomas who hasn’t played since opening day.  Cabrera is leading the team with both a .367 average and 16 stolen bases since transferring from Umpqua CC. He also has 21 extra base hits. Carter Booth is batting .338 and leading the team with 21 doubles and three triples. 

Two pitchers with double first names will make LCSC the favorite to continue their winning streak.  Drake George is much improved after having a 6.92 ERA in 2023. His 3.44 mark this year is tops among Warrior starts and he has struck out 63 batters in only 55 innings. Shane Spencer was a starter as Washington State last season and led Central Arizona to Junior College National Championship before that. This year he has struck out 60 batters in only 47 ⅓ innings while only allowing 38 hits and 17 walks. However the true strength of the staff hasn’t been so much the results of a few, but rather their overall depth. They’ve had 17 pitchers appear in at least five games. Cameron Smith and Jake Hason have been invaluable in relief. Smith has a 2.19 ERA over 24 ⅔ innings and Hanson’s 3.51 mark has come in a dual role.  Japanese native Hiroyuki Yamada has also shown signs of brilliance over 34 ⅓ innings since transferring from Mt. Hood CC.


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Endicott Gulls MA 28-2 4-0 1
2 Salisbury Seagulls MD 26-6 4-0 2
3 East Texas Baptist Tigers TX 31-6 4-0 3
4 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays MD 25-8 4-1 4
5 Denison Big Red OH 28-4 3-1 5
6 Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets OH 28-5 4-1 6
7 Eastern Connecticut Warriors CT 22-8 1-2 7
8 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 27-5 4-1 8
9 Salve Regina Seahawks RI 24-5 3-1 9
10 Rowan Profs NJ 20-10 4-1 13
11 Christopher Newport Captains VA 21-7 1-0 12
12 UW LaCrosse Eagles WI 21-9 3-3 11
13 Trinity Tigers TX 27-9 3-1 14
14 Case Western Reserve Spartans OH 27-8 3-1 17
15 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 21-9-1 2-1 19
16 La Verne Leopards CA 21-9-1 3-3 10
17 Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens CA 25-9 2-1 21
18 Lynchburg Hornets VA 22-13 2-2 16
19 Montclair State Red Hawks NJ 26-9 2-2 15
20 Misericordia Cougars PA 26-8 6-0 22
21 Aurora Spartans IL 23-8 2-2 18
22 Benedictine Eagles IL 24-6 4-0 23
23 Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 23-9 3-1 24
24 Shenandoah Hornets VA 22-12 1-2 20
25 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA 24-9 4-2 25*
DROP Buena Vista Beavers IA      

After overwhelming preseason favorite Johns Hopkins started the season a surprising 7-5, the Blue Jays were quickly removed from the number one position. The second ranked team, East Texas Baptist, was an easy choice to ascend to the top spot, but they too had some unanticipated losses and were soon after removed from atop the rankings as well. However the Tigers have been undefeated since March 23rd with a 15-0 record, have an impressive 31-6 overall mark with a 20-1 record in the American Southwest Conference.  They will look to extend their streak against the University of the Ozarks this weekend.  

Junior Ben Lea was one of DIII’s top hitters last season and was anticipated to power the offense once again, but he hasn’t been able to play since opening day. Instead a number of other players have more than stepped up to help the Tigers score runs in bunches. Jacob Evangelista, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin, batted .361 last season and his hitting .322 and tied for the team lead with eight home runs.  He is also pacing the club with 26 stolen bases. Graduate student Brett Wagner has a .341 average with eighteen extra base hits and 12 stolen bases. Dylan and Connor Massimini have really stepped up in Lea’s absence. After onlyBurnaman  playing a total of seven games as a freshman and sophomore combined, Burnaman is topping the team with a .390 average with six home runs and 11 stolen bases. Massimini only had seven at bats last season, but hit .364 over the summer for the Palm Beach Diamond Ducks in the wood bat South Florida Collegiate Baseball League to prep for this spring. He is second on the Tigers with a .372 average and also has double-digit stolen bases.

Despite the team’s .320 average and 97 stolen bases on offense, it is the pitching which makes the team a favorite to return to the DIII College World Series. As anticipated, Sayers Collins has been brilliant once again. The graduate student is a three-time All-ASC First Team pitcher and two-time ASC Pitcher of the Year and will certainly earn those honors once again. In 62 ⅓ innings he had a 1.01 ERA and only allowed 29 hits in 62 ⅓ for a .134 B/AVG. If he wasn’t on the roster, teammate Jagger Nelly would be the front runner for each of those honors. He has a 2.76 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 62 innings. Robert Croft gives the team a proven pitcher out of the bullpen. He has appeared in 15 games for a total of 22 innings. He has earned a win and eight saves as the team’s closer.