The DII baseball season is in the books, and with it ends this wonderfully weird 2020-21 NCAA DII season. Eight days in Cary, North Carolina ended, and the only flag left waving was Wingate, winning its first national championship in a thrilling 5-3 victory over Central Missouri. And with the victory comes the honor of sitting at the top of the final DII baseball Power 10 rankings in this 2021 season.
The Bulldogs were solid all season, often hovering in the top 25 call, but always on the outside and looking into our DII baseball Power 10 ranking. This is no longer the case: Wingate jumps from the “also considered” category all the way to No. 1, the biggest jump since we started doing DII power rankings in some sports.
The latest DII baseball Power 10
Wingate was a team that really went in the right direction at the end of 2019 and looked good in the shortened 2020 season. But all aside, the Bulldogs were not in our top 25 before the season, nor were they considered a sleeper for Cary. Now, your opponent for the championship game? Central Missouri entered season No. 3 in our top 25 top season and never left the top tier of DII baseball, finishing season No. 2 on the season’s final power ranking.
Remember these are my ratings. Making it to Cary does not guarantee a team a place in these last 10. When you look at a region like South Central, there were three legitimate No. 1 seeds playing against each other, in Colorado Mesa, Angelo State and West Texas. IS. While the weather is advanced, it does not reduce the seasons of the two regional opponents.
Nor does this final ranking have anything to do with the future. Due to COVID-19, several teams were stacked with experience thanks to extra qualification. This will drastically change the landscape of DII college baseball in 2022. Fear not, we will look at what next season’s top 25 can do just after the smoke clears, the MLB draft goes down and we have more of a sense of what the rosters will look like.
1. Wingate | Previous – Also rated: For a season for national champions. The Bulldogs finished 39-13 and won 13 of their last 15 games. This race drove victories over that time. 7 Catawba, da-nei. 19 North Greenville, a few over the then No. 11 Mount Olive, and then five victories in the elimination match over the top 15 opponents, including the defeat of former No. 1 Central Missouri for the title. Logan McNeely (.359, 1,004 OPS, 17 doubles, four home runs, 50 RBIs) and McCann Mellett (.328, 1,098, 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 50 RBIs) led a regular offense, but it was the pitching that saved Cary’s day. .
Aside from a 5-1 win over Seton Hill, every win in Cary was a nail-biter, with Wingate winning three balls in one race and then winning two races in the final. It started with a bulldog performance by Brody McCullough, which went eight innings to defeat Southern New Hampshire, followed by a full game by David Nash to eliminate Seton Hill and then 7.1 innings by Austin Mitchell. Thus, the bullpen became healthy for the decisive semifinal game against Angelo State, and also left Sam Broderson’s arm unused. Broderson’s heroic five rounds in the final – where he did not allow a hit or a run – drove the Bulldogs to their first title.
2. Central Missouri | Previous – No. 1: This Mules squad has quite an impressive resume. They reached the semifinals in 2019, ran a 20-3 record in the shortened 2020 season, and were then completely dominant during the championship in Cary. For a team to compete this season at No. 3 – in a season with so much uncertainty with long layoffs and delayed starts, remember – talking volumes created by cultural director Kyle Crookes in Warrensburg. This offense – led by Dusty Stroup’s power outage and the always consistent Erik Webb – was outrageous, the pitching – led by Ace Mason Green – was deep and the felling was some of the best in the tournament.
3. Tampa | Previous – No. 7: The Spartans make a big leap in the final rankings, and it’s really because they showed us that they are still who we know they are. The Spartans played just 20 games in the regular season, dropped their last series of the regular season to Florida Southern and then had more than a week of the season canceled to close things out. But then, in true Tampa style, the Spartans swept through the South Regional with victories over three top-25 teams, including two over West Florida. Then they won a pair in Cary before falling to Central Missouri in the rubber match. There’s a reason Tampa is always on the hunt, and there’s no reason to believe it’s not going on.
4. Angelo State | Previous – 2: The Rams had a fantastic season from start to finish, ending the season in Cary with a 44-9 season. Angelo State reached the semifinals – the longest program ever – before running into the glowing Wingate Bulldogs, falling into two memorable ball games. The Rams left Cary to hit .338, the best in the field. Josh Elvir finished the season again with startling numbers that beat .393 with a 1,247 OPS, 22 doubles, 13 home runs, 64 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
5. Colorado Mesa | Previous – No. 3: No, the Mavericks did not reach Cary. Yes, they certainly stayed in the top 5. There’s no way we’ll leave this team out of the final Power 10. Colorado Mesa ended the season 42-7 with our very first NCAA.com player of the year in Haydn McGeary. There is nothing to be ashamed of if the last two losses are against Angelo State and West Texas A&M. This team hit .373 with 1,118 OPS, 109 home runs and 612 scores, with its 12.5 runs per game second most in DII baseball history. Sure, they did not finish in the round of 16, but this list was one of the best from start to finish.
6. Seton Hill | Previous – No. 10: Things did not go as the Griffins wanted in Cary, but they won before falling to Angelo State and the eventual national champion Bulldogs. Per Nick Herfordt on Perfect Game, Seton Hill was tied for the third best RPI in DII baseball, and it speaks volumes for what it achieved. Seton Hill balanced one of the strongest pitching staffs in DII – as number three in the ERA and second in the WHIP – with Tommy Pellis and Derek Orndorff, who were two of the better hitters in the division from start to finish.
Southern Southern Hampshire | Previous – also rated: Penmen entered the season as No. 23 on our pre-season rankings, and that was largely because head coach Scott Loiseau said he felt last year’s squad had the potential to be the best he had ever had. With so much return, it turned out he was right. Southern New Hampshire finished 28-9 by playing against the fourth toughest schedule in DII baseball. This team was just so balanced and hit .309 with a .907 OPS while the pitching staff combined for a 3.31 ERA with a .205 stroke average against.
8. West Florida | Previous – No. 4: What a season for the Argonauts. This team ticked all the boxes. They played one of the toughest schedules in DII – the 31st strongest, to be precise – while capturing the Gulf South title and number 1 seed in the South Regional. It included taking the last five games they played against Lee – a team that was highly ranked in the NCBWA poll all season – and defeating a glowing Delta State team in the best of three GSC championship series. Had they not run into Tampa, things might have been different, but we’ve said it to many teams in this century.
9. West Texas A&M | Previous – also rated: I dropped Buffs to No. 11 on the final rankings before the tournament, but when I looked at the overall resume, it could have been a mistake. If you look at the same list from Herfordt, West Texas A&M finished with one of the best RPIs in DII while playing against one of the toughest schedules, setting a 34-9 record against teams with a .549 winning percent. It was enough to beat – Keone Givens is one of the more exciting players in the division – and Mathieu Gauthier was a real DII ace. It’s tough when you have to go through Colorado Mesa and Angelo State in the following days to reach Cary, so you can not hold it against the buffs.
10. Northwest Nazarene | Previous – also rated: What a wonderful season for the Nighthawks. They finished 35-10 and advanced to the final – the first team from GNAC to ever do so. They were also the first team to take down Colorado Mesa this season at the Courtyard Marriott Leadoff Weekend back in February. I had Minnesota State in this tenth place, but the fact that the Northwest Nazis came to Cary and won a game before going home gives them the last promise.
Just missed – Trevecca Nazarene: I expect to take some heat without having Trevecca Nazarene in my last 10 since it came to Cary and I’m ok with that. But since the Trojans reached the final, they deserve a closer look. Braden Odom had a superb all-round season as Trevecca Nazarene, who made his first NCAA tournament and rode the wave all the way to the quarterfinals. The Trojans were just the second team in the school’s history to advance to an NCAA final in any sport.
Rounding off the top 20 (in alphabetical order): Augustana (SD), Azusa Pacific, Catawba, Columbus State, Illinois Springfield, Lee, Minnesota State, Mount Olive, North Greenville
Erik Webb grateful posts
Before we sign off for the DII baseball season, there must be a special call to Erik Webb. The senior recorded a hit in every game in Cary and achieved four home runs, including this which was the 100th hit at the USA Baseball National Training Complex since the tournament moved there in 2009 (a quick reminder: the tournament was played in Grand Prairie, Texas in 2017 and canceled last season).
– Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) June 12, 2021
So why, in a season with so many outstanding performances, do we single out Webb? The Central Region and the MIAA player in 2019 ended the 2021 season as DII baseball active career leader in hits, races, doubles, triples, home races, RBI and total bases. It places Webb in the top 10 in DII baseball history in races scored with 256, doubles with 77, home runs with 65 and No. 1 all the time in total bases, and surpasses Erskine’s Bryan Fogle’s mark of 630 sets between 2007-10 and the end. with 640. And while they are not top 10 marks, there is nothing to be ashamed of .355 career strokes and 1,125 career OPS. Here’s a tip for the hat, statistically speaking, one of the best that has ever done so.