25. GEORGIA COLLEGE BOBCATS (36-19)

GEORGIA COLLEGE BOBCATS (36-19)
The Bobcats came on strong at the end of the season to capture their first Peach Belt Tournament Championship and national ranking consideration.  The PBC title gave GC a Southeast regional bid and the surging Bobcats made some noise in the extended NCAA postseason, winning three elimination games before getting eventually knocked out by Coker. Much of last year’s lineup returns, including Tino Martinez Award candidate Daniel Bick, in what could be a continuation of last spring’s late success. The pitching staff could use some increased depth and consistency, but if some arms develop the Bobcats could scratch their way to additional titles in 2014. Continue reading

26. SOUTHERN ARKANSAS MULERIDERS (42-17)

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS MULERIDERS (42-17)
The Muleriders mauled opposition much of last season, spending most of the season in the thick of the national rankings and atop the Great American Conference standings. After SAU won their third consecutive conference championship and fourth in the last five seasons, their prospects of heading to Cary were looking good.  SAU started 2-1 in the Central Region and were rallying late with an opportunity to advance to the championship game, but a play at the plate for the final out of the game and the season stopped the team short of advancing to the final eight. While similar success is anticipated in Magnolia in 2014, earning wins may be a little harder as a number of top hitters and arms won’t be back on campus this spring. Head Coach Steve Browning will once again field a top shelf team, but more than one player will have to elevate their game if the big blue is going to reach 40 wins for the third time since 2010. Continue reading

27. FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (37-19)

FRANKLIN PIERCE RAVENS (37-19)
The Ravens were an enigmatic bunch last year who could both win and lose games in bunches. Fortunately for the Ravens they played some of their best ball at the end of the season when they earned another opportunity to play for the DII Championship in Cary. FPU received an at large bid to play in the East Regional and clawed their way to advance to the final eight. Alas the Ravens went 1-2 in North Carolina to have their season end a shy of their ultimate goal of a national title. The Ravens do have some roster replenishing to accomplish before taking to the diamond in 2014. The program had four players in the first sixteen rounds of the MLB draft and other valuable members of the team have moved on as well. Nevertheless, Head Coach Jayson King has been putting FPU success on and another trip south for the spring is always a possibility for the purple and black attack from New Hampshire. Continue reading

28. CONCORD MOUNTAIN LIONS (36-20)

CONCORD MOUNTAIN LIONS (36-20)
Concord quietly put themselves together a nice little season last spring. After a (very) slow start the Mountain Lions rode a second half of the season hot streak and established a new school record for wins in a season. The school also captured its fifth WVIAC conference title when they swept though the postseason tournament with ease. The NCAA’s tournament wasn’t as prosperous as Concord dropped its only two game in a pair of closely contested matchups. Continue reading

29. CAL STATE MONTERY BAY OTTERS (39-17)

CAL STATE MONTEREY BAY OTTERS (39-17)
Ottermania ran wild through Seaside as the Otters gave opposition the big boot and followed it up with a running leg drop to finish with the best season in school history. CSUMB captured the program’s first regular season CCAA title and won 39 games (13 more than the previous year’s program record) to complete a remarkable run which ended in the NCAA West Regionals. Unfortunately however, a bulk of those wins came during the regular season. The Otters went a combined 2-4 in the CCAA Championships and West Regional to have both their postseason runs come to an earlier-than-hoped exit. Continue reading

30* (Tie). AUGUSTANA (SD) VIKINGS (38-18)

AUGUSTANA (SD) VIKINGS (38-18)
Augustana quietly put together a record-breaking season last year. The Vikings established a new school record of 38 wins, besting the former top mark by four   and finished the season winning 22 of 25 games – seven of which were wins by double-digit runs. Despite their unprecedented success Augie was unable to advance to the NCAA postseason and found itself stuck in the eighth position of the crowded and competitive Central Region rankings. Playing in the same conference as Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, the Vikings will have their work cut out for them if they are going to leapfrog the NSIC stalwarts for a regional run, but this year’s edition of the team could have the fire-power to do it. Head Coach Tim Huber believes the current club be the most talented as any team he’s ever coached.  Many of last year’s top hitters and pitchers will be back on the diamond and the Huber has the team ready to win its first conference title in ten years. Continue reading

30* (Tie). WINSTON SALEM STATE RAMS (39-13)

WINSTON SALEM STATE RAMS (39-13)
The Rams are one of DII baseball toughest teams to rank.  Last season WSSU absolutely crushed Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association competition, concluding the regular season with a 20-1 conference record. However, the Rams were only a good-but-not-great 19-12 against other non-CIAA foes. Yet again, two of the Rams out-of-conference wins were against nationally ranked Millersville and included a win over draft pick Tim Mayza. Nonetheless the Rams’s accomplishments on the diamond didn’t go unnoticed. WSSU earned its first-ever national ranking late in the season and was awarded the second seed and hosting duties for the Atlantic Regional. The Rams went 1-2 in the regional to have their season come to a close. The roster will have a makeover in 2014 with several key players moving on; however Head Coach Kevin Ritsche believes that this year’s club will be even better than last season’s record breaking club. Six talented transfers and the return of a closer from Tommy John surgery make WSSU a team to watch in 2014. Continue reading

RV: COKER COBRAS (38-16)

COKER COBRAS (38-16)
The offseason left the Cobras looking like Gus Fring after his final visit to Hector Salamanca at Casa Tranquila – pretty good on one side, but full of holes on the other. Coker returns much of its starting lineup, including Fico Kondla, who was a finalist for the Josh Willingham Award, as well as several other important everyday players; however the team suffered significant losses to the pitching staff. Gone is MLB draft pick Zach Loraine who saved 15 games on the mound with a team leading 2.65 ERA (he also lead the team in extra base hits at the plate as a DH). Also missing are two starting pitchers who combined to win fifteen games and make 34 starts. Continue reading

RV: SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE PENMEN (35-19)

SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE PENMEN (35-19)
Since taking over as head coach of the Penmen in 2009, Scott Loiseau has brought the team from the depths of the conference standings to being one of the nation’s elite teams. Before Loiseau arrived SNHU hadn’t put together a winning season since 1997 and during that stretch the Penmen suffered through five single-digit win seasons. He has transformed the team into a teaching clinic with hurlers becoming MLB prospects. In 2012 Tim Flight was a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award before being drafted by the Yankees and last season three SNHU hurlers were selected in the MLB draft. It was the strength of the pitching that led the school to the DII Championships in 2012 and it will be the staff once again that could take them there in 2014. Continue reading

Seems legit.

I’ve griped for years that too many coaches and media members mail in their votes without doing any research – especially for the preseason. I know for a fact that at least one coach put down Grand Canyon as one of the top teams in DII for 2014 despite that fact the Antelopes moved to DI during the offseason. I’m sure he did what many others did – just opened up last year’s final rankings and shuffled teams around a bit before submitting his ballot.

As another shining example of this I submit to you last year’s statistics for Missouri Western.  The Griffs were great last season and rewrote their records books, but it was due to an extremely senior laden team. MWSU finished the year nationally ranked around the twenty mark depending on who your ranking provider of choice is. Continue reading