11. FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (38-19-1)

11. FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (38-19-1)
Final 2012 Ranking: 28

Despite an uneven season which saw them from drop being a top ten ranked club to dropping out of the rankings altogether, Franklin Pierce had its seventh straight season of at least 35 wins. The Ravens’ season came to a close at the hands of Le Moyne and ended the year as a semifinalist in the East Regional. The Ravens’ successful pursuit of a ninth straight appearance in the NCAA Championships is a likely outcome as Head Coach Jayson King once again has once again put together a formidable lineup in which few clubs in the northeast can match. A few balls dropping in the right place or extra pitches finding their mark could have FPU back in Cary once again. Continue reading

12. CHICO STATE WILDCATS (40-19)

12. CHICO STATE WILDCATS (40-19)
Final 2012 Ranking: 15

Chico State earned its fifth CCAA regular season title and won the West Regional to reach the Cary and the DII CWS, but fell short of earning the third national crown in the program history after nearly getting no-hit in the opening round and falling to Minnesota State for an early exit. Expectations were high last year and will be once again in 2013. The Wildcats lost only one contributing pitcher from last year’s club and return a solid, experienced starting lineup which knows how to play sound defense and manufacture runs – the cornerstone of every championship team. Continue reading

13. CATAWBA INDIANS (45-17)

13. CATAWBA INDIANS (45-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: 11

The Indians skirted the rankings much of last season, checking in and out following streaks of success and disappointment. Nonetheless, Catawba got hot when it mattered most. After going 23-4 in the SAC, the Indians fought their way to the Southeast Regional title where they earned their first appearance in the DII CWS. Incredibly they made their remarkable postseason run without SAC Co-Pitcher of the Year JJ Jankowski who was voted off the team prior to the extended season. Catawba went 2-2 in Cary with each of its games being decided by a single run. A return trip to the CWS is entirely in the realm of possibilities for Head Coach Jim Gantt. The Indians return several top hitters as well as a core of pitchers who will keep them in title contention. Continue reading

14. SETON HILL GRIFFINS (46-11)

14. SETON HILL GRIFFINS (46-11)
Final 2012 Ranking: 21

Seton Hill ran away with the WVIAC regular season title but were stymied in their quest to capture the conference tournament crown as well thanks to one of those wacky pool play formats which are all the rage as of late. Nevertheless, the Griffs were awarded the top seed in the Atlantic Regional, but where they were eliminated by eventual national champion West Chester. Despite the earlier-than-anticipated loss, Head coach Marc Marizzaldi and SHU did establish a new school record for wins in 2012. Some major cogs are in place for another title run, but with 11 seniors graduating last spring some freshman and transfers will have to contribute quickly if the Griffs will eclipse last year’s success. Continue reading

15. SOUTHERN ARKANSAS MULERIDERS (37-17)

15. SOUTHERN ARKANSAS MULERIDERS (37-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: 18

The Muleriders won the inaugural Great American Conference regular season and tournament championships and made their fifth consecutive NCAA regional appearance. The tournament title came via one of the season’s most memorable moments when OF Jason Dahl hit an 11th inning walk-off home run to deep right-center to give SAU the win over Ouachita Baptist. SAU has reached the 30-win plateau for 12th consecutive seasons and for the 21 out of the past 22 years.  Increasing those streaks shouldn’t be a chore for the ‘Riders as they bring back a well-balanced bunch with high expectations and potential. Continue reading

16. ANGELO STATE RAMS (40-17)

16. ANGELO STATE RAMS (40-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: 22

Angelo State won the Lone Star Conference regular season and conference championships en route to the program’s third trip to the NCAA postseason. The Rams had been rolling, winning 12 of their last 14 and outscored opposition 122-31 in those games, but went 0-2 in the South Central tournament with loses to St. Edward’s and Southern Arkansas. Head Coach Kevin Brooks has never had a losing season at ASU, and that certainly won’t occur in 2013. The Rams return the core of a solid offensive nucleus along with several strong arms that could have Angelo State headed to their second DII CWS appearance since the program was started in 2005. Continue reading

17. USC AIKEN PACERS (37-18)

17. USC AIKEN PACERS (37-18)
Final 2012 Ranking: Not Ranked

When the Southeast Regionals were announced last spring there was much speculation that the Pacers’ 2012 résumé warranted their inclusion into the extended postseason. However USCA was overlooked in favor of Catawba and the Pacers were forced to watch as the Indians, a team the Pacers had won their season series with, take their spot in the tournament and advance to Cary. Motivated by last season’s snub the Pacers are ready to hit the field and eliminate all doubt they belong in regional and national title considerations. Head Coach Kenny Thomas, who enters the season 13 wins away from 1,000 in his career, has a team capable of making the move to Cary, but will need some players to step up if they are to make the journey. Continue reading

18. GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS (43-16)

18. GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS (43-16)
Final 2012 Ranking: 17

The Lakers ended a their season with their 11th straight NCAA Division II postseason appearance, going 2-2 in the Midwest Regional to finish in the top twenty of the final rankings. It was the final season for long time Lakers skipper Steve Lyon who retired at the end of the season after compiling a 552-205-2 record at GVSU. This season will be the first under new Head Coach Jamie Detillion who had been a ten-year tenured assistant under Lyon. Detillion’s team is talented, but the pitching is untested and depending on the development of some new arms could find themselves competing for Cary or chasing Lyon’s shadow. Continue reading

19. LE MOYNE DOLPHINS (43-15-1)

19. LE MOYNE DOLPHINS (43-15-1)
Final 2012 Ranking: 25

The Dolphins won the Northeast-10 Conference Championship in their first year since transitioning to DII and advanced to the East Regional Championship game. Le Moyne was able to hang a pair of early runs on SHNU ace Tim Flight, but they ultimately fell a run short in their game against the Penmen and had their season come to a close a game short of reaching Cary. Backed by an experienced offense and several quality young arms, Head Coach Scott Cassidy and the team will make another run towards the DII CWS in 2013, and be a favorite to emerge from the East Region. Continue reading

20. UC SAN DIEGO TRITONS (33-24)

20. UC SAN DIEGO TRITONS (33-24)
Final 2012 Ranking: Not Ranked

The Tritons spent more of 2012 in the unsavory “receiving votes” section of the national rankings. Despite a substandard year by recent Triton standards, UCSD did complete the regular season as the CCAA co-champions along with Chico State. It was the Tritons fourth consecutive conference crown. UCSD consequently earned an invite to the West Regional where they went 1-2, with both of their losses to Dixie State. The Tritons will once again go head to head with the Wildcats for conference supremacy, and with a talented veteran group back on the diamond, the Tritons will be competing for a return trip to Cary as well. Continue reading