However, this was not the case this season. In D-II and NAIA, the top-ranked schools in 2022 suffered several significant losses on the list. Reigning D-III champion Eastern Connecticut State earned the overall score, but runner-up Salisbury rallied most of the team for another race.
So far, each of the three preseason favorites remain the top teams in each of their respective divisions. This week, along with the updated rankings of the top 25, we're bringing you a look at how the three pole position schools are performing and an analysis of whether they'll be the better team after the season ends.
|rang||Tim||state||Contra||Rec. general||Week Rec.|
|1||Greenville North Crusaders||SOUTH CAROLINA||1||39-6 (screen, other).||1-0|
|2||tampa spartans||Florida||2||33-7 (screen, others).||3-0|
|3||Angelo State Rams||Texas||3||40-6 (screen, others).||4-0|
|4||Central Missouri Mules||mes||4||33-12 (screen, others).||3-1|
|5||Quincy's Hawks||ILLINOIS||6||31-9 (screen, others).||3-1|
|6||Colorado Mesa Mavericks||CO||8||33-9 (screen, other).||4-0|
|7||Trojans of the Mount of Olives||NORTH CAROLINA||9||31-11 (view, professional).||3-1|
|8||East Stroudsburg Warriors||BY YEAR||7||31-9 (screen, others).||2-1|
|9||newberry wolves||SOUTH CAROLINA||12||36-9 (screen, others).||3-1|
|10||Muleriders south of Arkansas||Arkansas||5||32-13 (view, expert).||2-2|
|11||Rollins alquitranes||Florida||11||28-12 (view, expert).||2-1|
|12||Montevallo Falcons||Alabama||13||35-10 (view, professional).||3-0|
|13||The Millersville Robbers||BY YEAR||14||34-6 (screen, others).||4-0|
|14||Pumas de Columbus St.||Georgia||15||31-12 (screen, others).||4-0|
|15||Bulldogs Wingate||NORTH CAROLINA||10||29-16 (screen, other).||3-1|
|sixteen||Metropolitan State Road Runner||CO||sixteen||37-8 (screen, others).||3-0|
|17||Minnesota State Mavericks||Minnesota||18||27-10 (screen, others).||3-1|
|18||Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes||California||20||32-13 (view, expert).||3-2|
|19||Braves of Pembroke||NORTH CAROLINA||19||34-12 (screen, others).||2-2|
|20||Wayne State Warriors||MI||17||29-9 (screen, other).||2-3|
|21||Bay otters from Cal State Monterey||California||21||28-12 (view, expert).||3-1|
|22||Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars||ILLINOIS||22||28-10 (screen, others).||0-0|
|23||Florida occidental Argos||Florida||25||29-14 (screen, other).||4-0|
|24||Belmont Abbey Crusaders||NORTH CAROLINA||NR||33-13 (screen, others).||4-0|
|25||Valdosta State Blazers||Georgia||NR||29-12 (screen, other).||4-0|
Abandonment:San Eduardo, Lenoir-Rhyne
Greenville North Crusaders
The Crusaders were an easy pick to be the number one team in the Perfect Game D-II preseason rankings in 2023. They return much of a roster that finished the previous season 54-10 overall and took home the state title. Plus, they added some very skilled support both on offense and on the mound to make a great team even better. North Greenville was without a doubt the team to beat.
With just five games remaining on the regular season schedule, NGU will most likely continue to be the top-ranked team once the postseason begins. After visits to Catawba and North Georgia to kick off this week, two teams hovering just above .500, the Crusaders host 15-28 Southern Wesleyan over three contests to finish out the season. They will face much stronger opposition the first week of May in the Conference Carolinas Tournament, where three ranked conference partners – Mount Olive, UNC Pembroke and Belmont Abbey – will look to deny the Crusaders their fifth straight CC crown. .
NGU's performance on the field in 2023 was strong. They had wins over Central Missouri, Arkansas Tech, and Chico State to start the season. UCM is a great team that has been in or around the top ten all season and ATU was previously ranked in the Top 25. The Crusaders swept a rising team #19 UNC Pembroke and have two wins over #24 Belmont Abbey , as well as a victory. about two other very good schools, Lenoir-Rhyne and Young Harris. Their only misstep of the season came earlier this month when they lost three games (half the season total) in a five-day span to Mount Olive and Lenoir Rhyne. Every one of those losses has come on the road, as has every one of their three losses this season. NGU has a perfect 27-0 record when playing at home or on a neutral field, while on the road it has a 12-6 record. As such, North Greenville must focus on finishing well for a chance to host an NCAA Regional in Tigerville, where they have gone 79-10 over the past four seasons.
As a team, North Greenville is hitting .326, and all regulars who have started at least 28 games are hitting above .300. They have three players with double-digit home run totals and two more at the top of that plateau. Marek Chlup, who missed part of the season playing for the Czech Republic in the World Baseball Classic, is the team's most dangerous hitter. He is hitting .407 with 25 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases. Three times All AmericanJohn Michael fallaII isn't having his best season statistically, but he should still make opposing pitchers uncomfortable. He hit .427 with 16 home runs and 86 RBI last season. He remains a solid and important cog on offense this year with a .318 average and nine home runs.Pat MonteithHe quietly put up lofty numbers over three seasons at NGU. In over 145 games, he's hitting .333 with 34 home runs and 34 stolen bases. transfersjalen vasquezfrom South Carolina anddavid lewisClemson have achieved instant success. They are hitting .363 and .357, respectively. Vasquez was South Carolina's top-ranked player coming out of high school, and Lewis was the second-ranked third baseman in the state (although he primarily plays first for North Greenville).
Despite playing in one of the strongest D-II conferences in the nation, North Greenville's pitchers have been terrific all season. They allowed double-digit runs just twice while throwing four hits. For the season, the team's 3.43 ERA ranks in the top ten nationally, as does his 7.52 hits allowed per nine innings. His 9.7 strikeouts per game ranks him in the top twenty.
The team has five solid pitchers led by sCampos Reece. The junior pitcher is credited with a 21-3 record in recent seasons and has struck out 207 batters in 213 ⅔ innings since he came to campus. He currently has a 3.27 ERA and has allowed more than two earned runs just four times in 13 starts this spring. First year studentbrody hunterhas a 3.44 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 36 ⅔ innings andNoah Takache sailed this year until his last voyage. Before that, his 1.86 ERA led all starters this season, just as his 1.60 mark was the highest on the team last year. Unfortunately, no crossover pitcher dominated more thanmichael rodriguezthis spring. In 17 relief appearances, Rodríguez has 50 strikeouts with just five strikeouts in 26 innings and allowed just 14 hits. When he allowed an earned run against North Georgia last week, it was only his second of the year. The run pushed his ERA to a still paltry 0.69.
At this point, there's no reason to think that NGU can't win back-to-back titles. They're just as powerful and focused as they were last season, and if you've watched any of their videos online, it's obvious the team plays well and enjoys being together on and off the diamond.
|rang||Tim||state||Contra||Rec. general||Week Rec.|
|1||south east fire||Florida||1||44-3||3-0|
|2||Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies||Georgia||2||40-5 (screen, others).||4-0|
|3||Piloto LSU Shreveport||HE||3||38-6 (screen, others).||4-0|
|4||Cumberlands Patriots||Kentucky||4||40-6 (screen, others).||4-0|
|5||Bulldogs wesleyanos de Tennessee||Tennessee||5||37-7 (screen, others).||2-1|
|6||Bellevue Bruins||NO||6||38-7 (screen, others).||4-1|
|7||Westmont Warriors||California||7||37-8 (screen, others).||3-0|
|8||Esperanza Reales Internacionales||California||8||31-7 (screen, others).||4-0|
|9||Missouri Baptist Spartans||mes||9||35-5 (screen, others).||3-0|
|10||The Crusaders by William Carey||EM||10||35-9 (view, professional).||4-0|
|11||Mesa Benedictine Redhawks||HE||11||37-9 (screen, others).||4-1|
|12||Central Methodist Eagles||mes||14||32-12 (screen, others).||4-0|
|13||Webber International Warriors||Florida||12||34-13 (screen, others).||2-2|
|14||Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes||Kansas||20||36-11 (screen, others).||3-1|
|15||doane tigers||NO||21||33-9 (screen, other).||6-0|
|sixteen||mobile rams||Alabama||13||29-11 (screen, other).||1-3|
|17||vanguard lions||California||15||32-14 (screen, others).||1-2|
|18||Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles||Alright||sixteen||32-14 (screen, others).||2-2|
|19||Lewis-Clark State Warriors||ID card||19||26-12 (screen, others).||0-0|
|20||Texas Wesleyan Rams||Texas||18||32-12 (screen, others).||2-1|
|21||concord bulldogs||NO||17||32-13 (view, expert).||3-2|
|23||tabor bluejays||Kansas||NR||32-15 (screen, others).||6-0|
|24||Loyola's Wolf Pack||HE||24||29-16 (screen, other).||2-1|
|25||reinhardt eagles||Georgia||25||28-16 (screen, others).||2-1|
south east fire
Like North Greenville in D-II, Southeastern was an easy pick for the number one team in the preseason. The Flames went 59-4 last season and played their best baseball when it mattered most, as they went 13-1 in the postseason and scored at least eight runs in their last 18 games of the year. They suffered a bit of a roster collapse and were already well-equipped for a new gig, even without the yearly influx of up-and-coming artists gearing up to join the team. Fire can hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, play stellar defense, have a solid starting pitcher, top-tier relief and can probably sing and dance. They are currently 44-3 on the season with two one-run losses, the third against No. 6-ranked Bellevue. Their loss to the Bruins was the only game this spring in which they never held a lead. at some point in the game.
Southeastern didn't earn their .936 winning percentage this season by feeding on brownies at all. Their big schedule includes wins over #11 Benedictine Mesa, #12 Central Methodist, #13 Webber International, #17 Vanguard, #18 Oklahoma Wesleyan, #19 Lewis-Clark State, and #24 Loyola. They average 10.5 runs per game while their pitching staff holds the opposition to a .206 batting average while holding third in the nation with a 2.95 ERA. Their offense has led the team to an incredible 19 wins by at least ten runs, while the pitching staff has thrown seven shutouts.
Offensively, the team is hitting .358, which is fifth in the country. His .462 OBP is fourth in the NAIA and his .668 fielding percentage is easily the best in the nation. Once again, it should be noted that these numbers are collected based on a strict schedule. They're also tied for 11th in stolen bases with 111, a number that would likely be higher if they didn't generate as many extra base hits. Their best individual attackers this season areisaac nuñezand Gary Lora, who also led the team last year. Núñez, who is also a strong defender, leads the team with a .429 batting average and 16 stolen bases. Lora is hitting .409 with 16 home runs. The team's offseason additions this spring have proven to be outstanding.Paul Lanzarote, who was Purdue's starting catcher last season, is hitting .351 with 20 extra-base hits. Chase Bryant and Adonys Herrera, former All-Americans at Western Oklahoma, are hitting a combined .384 with 27 home runs (Bryant's 17 leads the team).
The pitching staff's 541 strikeouts are 68 more than the currently second-place team and 107 more than the third-place school. Any of their three main starting pitchers can dominate the opposition.darien smithhe has a 3.52 ERA and has struck out a team-leading 94 batters in 61 ⅓ innings. Former Toronto Blue Jays draft pick Danny Batcher allowed just 30 hits in 52 ⅔ innings with 67 strikeouts.Rob Adams, the 2022 NAIA Pitcher of the Year, is holding opponents to a .236 average and has struck out 78 batters in just 55 ⅓ innings.
Despite the strong number of starters, the bull could be even more imposing. Reece Wissinger, who joined the team from Southeastern Community College, allowed just 10 hits in 26 innings with 49 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .184 against Juan Pimentel as he strikes out 42 times in 29 innings and JJ Sánchez has struck out 43 batters in 21 ⅔ innings. Each of that trio has less than 1.00 WHIP, tooandres largowho has a 2.23 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 32 ⅓ innings.
Despite the existence of other strong competition at the national level, if any non-SEU team wins the title in Lewiston, it will be a surprise. They do not have a known Achilles heel. It is rumored that Dr. Strange analyzed 14,000,605 possible outcomes of teams attempting to unseat SEU as NAIA champions and only one result shows the other team claiming victory.
|rang||Tim||state||Contra||Rec. general||Week Rec.|
|1||Salisbury to the Gull||MEDICAL DOCTOR||1||26-4||2-1|
|2||Shenandoah Hornets||Virginia||3||31-5 (screen, others).||3-1|
|3||Lynchburg Hornetsi||Virginia||7||29-5 (screen, other).||3-1|
|4||Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets||OH||4||27-5 (screen, others).||5-0|
|5||Johns Hopkins Blue Jays||MEDICAL DOCTOR||6||32-3||4-0|
|6||South Birmingham Panthers||Alabama||2||31-9 (screen, others).||0-4|
|7||endicott gulls||MOTHER||5||26-5 (screen, others).||4-1|
|8||La Grange Panthers||Georgia||8||25-11 (screen, other).||2-2|
|9||dawn of the spartans||ILLINOIS||10||26-3||6-1|
|10||Capitanes de Christopher Newport||Virginia||12||30-7 (screen, others).||3-0|
|11||Punteros UW-Stevens Point||Wisconsin||17||20-9 (screen, others).||4-0|
|12||Pennsylvania State Harrisburg||BY YEAR||NR||28-7 (screen, others).||4-1|
|13||rowan teacher||New Jersey||9||24-10 (screen, others).||3-2|
|15||Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets||Virginia||11||28-8 (screen, other).||2-2|
|sixteen||Baptist Tigers of East Texas||Texas||sixteen||27-9 (screen, other).||3-1|
|17||Eastern Connecticut Warriors||Connecticut||14||25-7 (screen, others).||2-2|
|18||catholic cardinals||DC||13||23-7 (screen, others).||0-4|
|19||arcadian knights||BY YEAR||18||25-9 (screen, others).||3-1|
|20||Marijet Pioneers||OH||20||25-9 (screen, others).||3-1|
|21||UW Lacrosse Eagles||Wisconsin||NR||22-6 (screen, other).||4-1|
|22||Royal Bethel||Minnesota||22||18-4 (screen, others).||4-0|
|23||North Carolina Wesleyan Batting Bishops||NORTH CAROLINA||24||26-8 (screen, others).||3-0|
|24||big red denison||OH||23||25-7 (screen, others).||4-1|
|25||Hail Regina Seahawks||Rhode Island||NR||24-6-1||4-0|
Abandonment:UW-Whitewater, Metodista, Suroeste
Salisbury to the Gull
Unlike their D-II and NAIA counterparts North Greenville and Southeastern, preseason number one team D-III Salisbury did not finish the previous year as national champions. Despite this, they had a strong 2022 season as they were runners-up at East Connecticut State. Unlike ECSU, Salisbury returns the vast majority of its roster, making it a much stronger contender to return to Cedar Rapids for another title shot.
Salisbury is currently 26-4 and a few weeks ago they moved back up to first after falling to second. Their drop from the No. 1 rank came after back-to-back midweek losses to currently #2 Shenandoah and Ursinus in mid-March. The week before they had a shocking 4-23 loss to now #5 Johns Hopkins. Their only other loss came last Sunday when they were blown out by #12 Penn State Harrisburg. Thus, three of Salisbury's four losses have come against teams in the top half of the national standings. Meanwhile, the Seagulls won against No. 13 Rowan, No. 18 Catolico, Cortland, St. John Fisher and Maria Washington. A better gauge of how Salisbury will fare in the postseason will emerge in the next two weeks. The Seagulls play two games at #10 Christopher Newport this weekend and close out the regular season with a game against #15 Randolph-Macon and a 26-12 comeback win over Mary Washington.
There are no weak spots in an everyday powerhouse lineup, as the Gulls are hitting fifth in the state collectively, and their .597 fielding percentage leads all D-IIIs. They are also in the top ten in on-base percentage at .458. Transfer from the University of WashingtonDanny Sheelerhe was the team leader in attack. He is hitting .444 with nine home runs and has nearly twice as many walks as anyone else on the team to boost his career-high .556 on-base percentage. Kavi Caster, the C2C Player of the Year last season, is magnificent again. In addition to hitting .408, he had nine home runs and a team-leading 17 stolen bases. Cam Hyder, who set multiple Salisbuy batting records in his career and in a single season, is hitting .391. OlderJakob Ferencehe's having a banner year both at the plate and behind. He is hitting .381 with a team-leading 11 home runs while striking out eight of 20 would-be base stealers as the team's catcher.they were riceHe is another player who contributes to the team's victory both at the plate and on defense. He is hitting .328 with a .971 fielding percentage.
salisbury tandemjimmy adkinsand Jackson Balzan are 11-1 overall on the season. Adkins has a 2.91 ERA and has struck out 50 batters in 52 ⅔ innings while allowing just six hits. Balzan has 49 strikeouts in 47 ⅓ while hitting with a .232 batting average. Olderrobbie hollenbeckhe appeared in 19 of 30 games for the Gulls as a utility player. He had a 2.31 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 23 ⅓ innings.
The Seagulls had a strong season in 2023 and mostly played at the level of their prophecy to be the best team, but they are not as strong candidates to start and finish the season as NGU or SEU. Also, of the three small school divisions, D-III has traditionally been the one with the most upsets and unexpected champions. Regardless, the Gulls remain the first pick to advance to Cedar Rapids and return to campus with a title trophy; however, if you're going to Las Vegas to invest money in a small college and earn a degree, hedge your bet with money at Southeastern or North Greenville.