A wild weekend of DII baseball has passed, and it made things more confusing than they already were. The reigning champion North Greenville Crusaders dropped a series to Conference Carolinas rival Mount Olive, Rollins took down Tampa once again, and Quincy and Illinois Springfield split in a slugfest.
There is certainly a new look to the Power 10 rankings. And with more huge series on the way — like East Stroudsburg vs. Millersville this weekend — more changes could be coming.
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Crusaders fans, breathe. While this may come as a shock to the rest of the DII baseball universe, North Greenville is still No. 1. Don't worry, I'll explain everything below. Keep in mind these are my rankings. I track most of the numbers the selection committee uses but also use team statistics and the old eye test. It's why you'll see a very different look than the coaches' polls and why you'll often see teams like Wingate, Minnesota State, and Mount Olive (just to name a few) mentioned when they have seemingly become an afterthought elsewhere.
The fifth DII baseball Power 10 rankings of 2023 season
(All games through April 3)
No. 1 North Greenville | Previous: 1: This is going to take some explaining. For one, you can look at this and say that the Crusaders lost a series to an "unranked" team, but Mount Olive has been in my top 25 all season. This Trojans team is grossly underrated on the national scale. Secondly, the teams closest to overtaking the Crusaders (Quincy, Tampa and Angelo State) also had two losses this past weekend, or in Angelo State's case, didn't play (and I'm certainly not moving a team into the No. 1 spot by default, no matter how good the Rams are). No, the Crusaders have been one of the best teams in DII baseball for more than a calendar year, and with the veteran talent on this team they should be able to rebound quickly.
(NOTE: These rankings are based on games through April 3. North Greenville did lose to Lenoir-Rhyne on Tuesday, April 4, but Quincy was crushed by nationally-ranked Central Missouri the same night. The point is, if I extended the basis of these rankings to include Tuesday's games, nothing changes.)
No. 2 Quincy | Previous: 4: So, how is Quincy not No. 1? It's a fair question because the Hawks have checked all the boxes. But let's be fair as well: The two games they won over Illinois Springfield were big, but the two games they lost were also pretty big losses (speaking in run differential terms). I was hoping to see one of those two teams separate itself from the other a little bit, but that wasn't the case. However, with Maryville — a team very much in the Midwest Region hunt — on deck this weekend, a sweep win could very well boost the Hawks to No. 1, and there won't be much to argue against that.
No. 3 Angelo State | Previous: 3: As I mentioned, the Rams were idle this past weekend, so not too much to report. They remain at 30-4 and one of the most balanced teams in DII baseball in whatever metric floats your boat. Statistically, they are top five in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, scoring, and are also No. 1 in fielding percentage. Right now, it seems like the South Central runs through San Angelo.
No. 4 Rollins | Previous: 9: The tremendous series win over Tampa boosts the Tars way up these rankings and overall RPI in DII baseball. And they have gone 22-9 against an SOS of .595, a top-20 schedule in DII baseball. The Tars now have a series win over Quincy and in the past three weekend series have knocked off Florida Tech, Barry and Tampa, all of which would be in the South Region rankings if they were published today. Since the end of last season, Rollins has shown they have the secret recipe and just know how to win.
No. 5 Millersville| Previous: 6: The Marauders are red-hot, sitting on a 10-game winning streak and, if my numbers are right, have yet to lose a game to an Atlantic Region opponent. Of course, that can all change this weekend against fellow Power 10-er East Stroudsburg. This will be a showdown between the top two pitching staffs in DII baseball, as Millersville has posted a DII-best 2.54 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. All three of the Marauders' starters can flat-out deal, so there is no rest for either lineup this weekend.
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No. 6 Tampa| Previous: 2: Don't fool yourselves. A loss to Rollins doesn't change the trajectory for the Spartans. They have just as much a shot as any team in the South to reach yet another Super Regional, but keep in mind, they are the third team from the region I've mentioned in the top six spots. The Spartans have to get dinged in the rankings, now with series losses to Quincy and Rollins, but are still very strong, boasting a DII baseball top-five ERA and WHIP, while hitting .328 with a team OPS of .909. A big series against Florida Tech awaits this weekend.
No. 7 Montevallo | Previous: 5: The Falcons stumbled a bit in Pensacola, losing a series to West Florida this past weekend, but are still one of the best teams in DII right now. Whether you look at wins and losses, strength of schedule, or RPI, the Falcons are checking those NCAA DII tournament boxes. Sam Kuchinski is doing everything he can to win the Gulf South Player of the Year right now, as we are in April, and he is still hitting .434 with nine home runs while leading the conference's best offense.
No. 8 East Stroudsburg | Previous: 10: I've already somewhat discussed the Warriors, who have been downright impressive since opening pitch. They have huge series sweeps against Southern New Hampshire and Shippensburg, but Millersville is without a question the biggest test of 2023 so far. East Stroudsburg is second to Millersville with a 2.85-team ERA and has the 12th-best WHIP at 1.26. The Warriors also have the second-best fielding percentage in the division and are hitting .305 as a team. The winner of this huge series will certainly move in the Power 10 next week.
No. 9 Illinois Springfield | Previous: 8: A series split was a tremendous statement for UIS and everything head coach Ryan Copeland has done for this program. Despite the all-DII talent the Prairie Stars lost last year in their historic season, here they are, a top-10 team and handing the second-best team in DII baseball a series split with some explosive bats in the victories. Chad Saner, Adam Brouwer and Ryan Carmack form a solid rotation that is simply going to make taking a weekend series from UIS a very difficult task down the stretch.
No. 10 Missouri Southern | Previous: First five out: Welcome the Lions to the Power 10 party. The Lions have been on a tear, now 27-8, but have a tremendous task ahead with a weekend series against top-25 Central Missouri. This team just rakes with four players that have at least 10 home runs but are also hitting .328 as a team while positing a combined 1.012 OPS. That's pretty much the recipe for success for the Lions: Let the bomb squad rake and outlast their opponents as a top-10 scoring team in DII. They hope the pitching tightens up for the postseason, because come May in a tricky Central Region, home runs get tougher to come by.
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First five (ish) out (in alphabetical order):
The metrics and statistics made it very close this week, and since I don't rank these teams by number, I will discuss a few extras.
- Colorado Mesa: Despite so many new faces, it's the same old story for the Mavericks. They have gone 14-2 since RMAC play started and that includes a series win over MSU Denver, which is right behind them in the standings.
- Columbus State: The Cougars are still a very good team, but have now dropped two series to the teams they need to beat in the PBC. This team is still one of the best in the Southeast but the sweep by Young Harris has them the first out.
- Central Missouri: This could change with the outcome of that Missouri Southern series, but it sure seems like the Mules are starting to come alive. Now 25-9, they seem to be winning every series thrown their way, and this is the last team in the Central Region anyone wants to see gaining momentum.
- Florida Southern: The Mocs are much better than their 22-9 record, playing one of the toughest schedules in DII and still posting one of the best RPIs. Being swept by Tampa hurts, but they do have a statement win over Rollins.
- Point Loma: The Sea Lions are coming alive and a huge 3-1 series win over Azusa Pacific made a loud statement in both the PacWest and West Region. If the pitching continues to settle in, they certainly have the bats to make another deep run.
- St. Edward's: The Hilltoppers haven't played the toughest schedule, but are still cruising, winners of their last 10 in a row. That's one thing to always remember about SOS: If you aren't playing a top-10 SOS, be sure you are utterly dominating the teams you are playing, and St. Edward's is without question accomplishing that.
In the conversation
This is the best of the rest. The 2023 DII baseball season has been a great one thus far, and the top of the heap isn't that far apart. This list will remain for the rest of the season, in alphabetical order, and rounds out what would be a top 35.
- Arkansas Tech
- Azusa Pacific
- Cal State Monterey Bay
- Cal State San Bernardino
- Charleston (WV)
- Franklin Pierce
- Mount Olive
- Minnesota State
- Newberry (The Wolves are an intriguing team gaining a lot of helium, but have only played USC Aiken thus far. Newberry closes the regular season against Wingate, Mount Olive, Lenoir-Rhyne, and Tampa in a row, and that's when we will see if they are a top-10 team.)
- New Haven
- MSU Denver
- Southern Arkansas
- Southern New Hampshire
- Valdosta State
- Wayne State (MI)
- West Georgia
- West Chester