1. ST. MARY’S RATTLERS (49-11)

1. ST. MARY’S RATTLERS (49-11)
Final 2012 Ranking: 4

St. Mary’s was one of the most consistent teams last season. The Rattlers were pegged as the number four team going into the season, spent the bulk of the year in the second spot and finished the campaign with a run to Cary and a fourth place finish in the final rankings. Along the way the team claimed the South Central Regional championship, won their third straight Heartland crown and their 49 wins marked the second-most in program history. Look for each of those milestone to be reached or eclipsed this season as Coach Migl welcomes back his top pitchers along, a core of solid offensive producers and a talented crop of transfers which makes the Rattlers the top team headed into 2013. Continue reading

2. MINNESOTA STATE MAVERICKS (51-12)

2. MINNESOTA STATE MAVERICKS (51-12)
Final 2012 Ranking: 3

The Mavericks we up 5-0 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Championships but were usurped by a late Delta State rally to conclude MSU’s season. Despite falling just short in their title run the Mavs did record a single-season win record and their third-place finish in the World Series matched the school’s best finish in a season with the 1980 edition of the club. With four starting pitchers who had a combined 35-6 record last year and their leading hitter back for another season in Mankato, MSU can be penciled in for another run to Cary and chance for a second northern team to take the title. Continue reading

3. DELTA STATE STATESMEN (49-15)

3. DELTA STATE STATESMEN (49-15)
Final 2012 Ranking: 2

The Statesmen fought their way to the NCAA South and College World Series Championships, both times requiring back-to-back wins over a team to reach their destination.  While DSU was able to capture the South crown and reach Cary, they ultimately fell a game short of being the last team standing in the end. Both of DSU losses in North Carolina were shutouts and the Statesmen fell to 1-3 in NCAA DII title games. This season a return trip to Cary is a strong possibility for the Gulf South stalwart as their top two hitters from last season will be back in the lineup as well as two of three top starters. If Coach Mike Kinnison can successfully fill a few holes in the pitching staff look for buses to be bound from Cleveland to Cary once again. Continue reading

4. TAMPA STARTANS (38-10)

4. TAMPA STARTANS (38-10)
Final 2012 Ranking: 5

The Spartans were the top ranked team for almost the entire season last year. Aside from the preseason rankings, Tampa was the top ranked team for all but one week at the regular season’s end. However those rankings didn’t mean a thing in the end when UT’s postseason came to a quick end after going 0-2 in their hosted South Regional. Nonetheless, the Spartans did win the program’s 14th SSC championship and will be looking to make it 15 along with a sixth National Championship in 2013. Continue reading

5. MOUNT OLIVE TROJANS (44-10)

5. MOUNT OLIVE TROJANS
Final 2012 Ranking: 10

Mount Olive at one time went 32-1 during the season and far outpaced the nation with 572 runs scored (St. Cloud State was second with 482 with eight more games played), but lost their first two games of the Southeast Regional for a much earlier than anticipated elimination. The Trojans will lose some of their pop with departed Chicago Cub draft pick Jacob Rogers who tied for sixth nationally in homeruns, but return a loaded lineup nonetheless which will make MOC another favorite to play for regional and national titles. Continue reading

6. CENTRAL MISSOURI MULES (48-9)

6. CENTRAL MISSOURI MULES (48-9)
Final 2012 Ranking: 7

UCM was two innings away from advancing to Cary for the fourth year in a row, but couldn’t survive a late St. Mary’s Rattler rally and were eliminated. The Mules did earn their 14th consecutive season with 40 or more wins and have won least 44 wins in all five years under Head Coach Tom Myers.  Reaching those milestones once again shouldn’t be too daunting of a task for the perennial MIAA bully. Several critical cogs from last year’s team have moved on, including All American and St. Louis Cardinal draft pick Lee Stoppelman, but Myers’ Mules have a tradition of rebuilding and competing at regional and national level year after year and 2013 will be no different. Continue reading

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN SHARKS (35-15)

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN SHARKS (35-15)
Final 2012 Ranking: 13

Nova Southeastern battled deep into the South Regional for the second year in a row but had their season come to an end after they went 2-2 in Tampa and were eliminated by national runner-up Delta State. Head Coach Greg Brown could have one of his most talented rosters to date when the Sharks take to the field in 2013. The team is deep and experienced with an improved pitching staff that could give NSU the final push it needs to capture a conference and national crown. Continue reading

8. WEST CHESTER GOLDEN RAMS (46-10)

8. WEST CHESTER GOLDEN RAMS (46-10)
Final 2012 Ranking: 1

Last season West Chester came out of left field to became the first PSAC team to win the national championship and just the third northern school to walk off the field with the DII baseball title.  After a disappointing 2011 season in which they only finished a game over .500, little was expected from the Golden Rams in 2012. In fact, only a single publication had the Nostradamusesque foresight to include them in their Preseason Top 30. However the Rams reeled off wins in twenty-five of their first twenty-six games under the guidance of first year Head Coach Jad Prachniak and, after a midseason slump, ended the season by going 12-0 in their last dozen games to take the title to Pennsylvania. The team has the experience and drive to make it back to Cary, but will they have the players they need to make it there? Continue reading

9. ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (48-14)

9. ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (48-14)
Final 2012 Ranking: 9

St. Cloud State reached the NCAA Central Region Championship game, but lost 5-4 to rival Minnesota State to conclude their season a single win short of the DII CWS. The Huskies’ season was far from a failure as the teams surpassed the school record for wins in a season and their level of play kept them in or near the top ten in the rankings for the majority of last season – at one time winning twenty games in a row.  With an experienced team loaded with seventeen juniors and seniors, Coach Pat Dolan’s club will be ready for another championship run in 2013 provided they can stay healthy – a problem for SCSU late last season. Continue reading

10. FRANCIS MARION PATRIOTS (40-18)

10. FRANCIS MARION PATRIOTS (40-18)
Final 2012 Ranking: 6

The Patriots were an enigmatic crew last season. FMU started the season as the top ranked team but quickly tumbled out of the top ten and almost out of the rankings entirely after starting the year with an unimpressive 8-7 record. Nevertheless, Coach Inabinet’s team rebounded from their fugue state to reach the championship game of the Southeast Regional where they were ultimately stymied by Catawaba. It was the third consecutive season the Pats fell a game short of reaching Cary.  The 2013 edition of the Pats will be similar last year’s club. Missing will be recent Baltimore Oriole signee Buddy Sosnoskie who led the team in hitting and tweeting, however most of the pieces are in place for another shot at making the trip to Cary. Continue reading