7. GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS (38-19)

GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS (39-18)
The Lakers had another impressive season last year that once again had them in the company of the top teams at season’s end in Cary. While GVSU didn’t have some of the gaudy winning streaks or players with video game numbers in the past, they did have something just as important, which was a solid team of savvy, talented players who could lean on each other for a win. Head Coach Jamie Detillion didn’t miss a beat in his first year taking over for the Lakers and his sophomore season could be just as impressive. The roster returns a commanding presence on offense and if some arms develop the Lakers will be considered a threat to compete for the title once again. Continue reading

8. WILMINGTON WILDCATS (43-13)

WILMINGTON WILDCATS (43-13)
After running away with the CACC regular season and conference titles, Wilmington was in good position to advance to the DII Championships. WU dropped their first game in the East Regional, but responded by winning three straight to set up an opportunity to advance to Cary. The Wildcats were ultimately stymied in a rematch with Franklin Pierce, the team that dealt them the opening round loss as well. The ‘Cats returned to campus a game away from making it to the final eight. Head Coach Brian August and the rest of the team are the short list of contenders to appear from the East. The staff has multiple valuable arms and the lineup boasts one of the most productive hitters in the nation. Continue reading

9. SAINT EDWARD’S HILLTOPPERS (44-18)

SAINT EDWARD’S HILLTOPPERS (44-18)
St. Edward’s had a banner season last spring, winning a school record 44 games and made a 2-2 appearance in Cary.  In order to make the DII finals the Hilltoppers dramatically won a pair of elimination games on the last day of the South Regional to advance to the College World Series for the first time in team history. Had a late inning rally against Minnesota State in the semifinals not fell short SEU could have very easily been the last team standing once the final out was made in North Carolina. The core of last year’s team remains much of the same and a return trip east will unquestionably be the goal for Head Coach Rob Penders and the rest of the team. Continue reading

10. SAINT CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (37-11)

SAINT CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (37-11)
Few teams were as impressive as SCSU last season. After an opening day loss the Huskies went 21-1 and spent most of the season in the top ten of the rankings. The Huskies started the Central Region with a pair of wins; however SCSU couldn’t get past their nemeses, conference rival Minnesota State, who gave the Huskies both of their losses in the double-elimination tournament. The Huskies will once again challenge MSU for conference and national status, backed by one of the top returning pitching staffs in that nation. The lineup has more than a few holes left by upperclassmen, but if the arms hold steady SCSU won’t need much offense.

SCSU - Garrett Fischer

St. Cloud State’s Garrett Fischer

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11. WEST FLORIDA ARGONAUTS (39-14)

WEST FLORIDA ARGONAUTS (39-14)
If it wasn’t for DII baseball’s unrelenting regionals positioning which forces conferences to a region, UWF likely have spent the end of last season in Cary. However the Argos, despite being one of a handful of top ranked teams capable of winning the national title, were thrown into the stacked and ravenous South Regional where they forced a winner-take-all deciding game against home team Tampa. West Florida eventually fell to the eventual national champions and will have its work cut out for them if they are to challenge the Spartans once again. Many important arms and bats will be back in Pensacola and the roster will be restocked with new talent, but the question if the reload will keep the team in the national championship discussion remains to be seen.

West Florida's Austin Southall

West Florida’s Austin Southall

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12. DRURY PANTHERS (39-17)

DRURY PANTHERS (39-17)
Had the Panthers been able to come up with just a few more timely hits or had a couple of balls bounced a little more differently, Head Coach Scott Nasby would have finished his first campaign at the helm of the club in Cary. Unfortunately for the team however they narrowly dropped both of their regional games to have the season come to an end. Nonetheless, things are looking good in Springfield.  The young Panther program, which has only been on the diamond for seven years, is looking strong.  DU has the look of a club that could rival perennial powerhouse Central Missouri for state supremacy. The Panthers established a school record number of wins last year, and with plenty of accomplished players back on the diamond, that number could be eclipsed this season.

Drury Panthers

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13. LANDER BEARCATS (35-16)

LANDER BEARCATS (35-16)
The Bearcats had one of the strongest starts to the season last year, punctuated by sweeping the reigning national champion West Chester Golden Rams the second week of the year. However a late season swoon doomed the Bearcats who also went 1-2 in the Peach Belt Tournament and had their season end without an invite to the NCAAs despite being highly ranked the majority of the season. Head Coach Kermit Smith will field another competitive team this season; however unlike last year the Bearcats final out won’t likely occur outside of the regionals and could possibly take place in Cary, North Carolina. Continue reading

14. MILLERSVILLE MARAUDERS (40-18)

MILLERSVILLE MARAUDERS (40-18)
The Marauders had another successful season in 2013 which included the club reaching the 40 win plateau and was the top seed in the Atlantic Regional for the second time in three seasons. Nevertheless, MU was stopped short of reaching Cary after the team was eliminated a game short of the regional title matchup in a bizarre contest in which Millersville pitchers hit a combined 12 batters. This season, while Head Coach Jonathan Shehan won’t have top prospect Tim Mayza back in the rotation, he will have an experienced bullpen which could make the difference between being one of the final eight teams or being sent home early for the summer. Continue reading

15. SAINT MARY’S RATTLERS (39-17)

SAINT MARY’S RATTLERS (39-17)
The Rattlers were College Baseball Lineup’s preseason pick to take the title last season but ultimately fell short of reaching Cary and the DII Championships after going 2-2 in the South Central Regional. Head Coach Charlie Migl, who passed the 1,000th career win mark last season, has another talented team which could compete once again for a national title and fifth straight conference crown if new additions are able to fill in holes left by graduating upperclassmen.

St. Mary's Rene Solis

St. Mary’s Rene Solis

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16. UNC PEMBROKE BRAVES (38-16)

UNC PEMBROKE BRAVES (38-16)
When the announcement of teams for the NCAA Regionals was made last spring, UNCP was one of the deserving teams that was left on the outside looking in. Despite a national ranking with an impressive season resume which included wins over a collection of top ranked teams there wasn’t room for the Braves on the postseason roster. The same number of limited spots will be available this season; however unlike last year Head Coach Paul O’Neil and the Braves don’t intend on being sent home early for the summer. The team will be without one of the best arms in the country in Ethan Carter; however UNCP does return eight of nine players in its batting order which ranked second nationally in hits and in the top 10 in six other offensive categories as well as one of DII baseball top pitching prospects. Continue reading