By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) regular-season and tournament titles propel Faulkner (Ala.) to the No. 1 ranking in the final regular-season edition of the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, announced Sunday by the NAIA national office. The top billing is the first all-time for the Eagles, dating back to the 2000 season. Faulkner received 11 first-place votes and 581 points.
The 45 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round qualifiers will be announced today at 5 p.m. CDT. Opening Round seeds and brackets are scheduled to release Monday at 12 p.m. CDT on www.naia.org.
Faulkner (Ala.) carries a NAIA-best 47 victories (tied) into the Opening Round, which is scheduled for May 9 – 13. The Eagles have won nine-straight and 14 of their last 15. Faulkner rolled through pool play at the SSAC Tournament, including back-to-back shutouts against Southern Poly (Ga.) (10-0) May 1 and Belhaven (Miss.) (1-0) May 2. The Eagles were named co-champions after the tournament final was cancelled because of weather conditions.
Oklahoma City drops one spot to No. 2 with 10 first-place votes and 580 points. The Stars are 47-11 following a 6-5 extra-inning loss against No. 4 Lubbock Christian (Texas) in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) Tournament championship game. Prior to its game against Lubbock Christian, Oklahoma City had won six-straight. The Stars feature one of the NAIA’s best offenses, ranking in the top 10 nationally in triples (27), slugging percentage (0.528), RBI (377), runs scored (418) and doubles (111).
Resting at No. 3 for the second-consecutive week is Lee (Tenn.) with 547 points. Similarly to Faulkner, the Flames cruised through pool-play at the SSAC Tournament to earn a share of the conference tournament crown. Strong pitching continues to be a key for Lee this season, as the Flames lead the NAIA in opponent batting average (.200), earned run average (1.82) and total strikeouts (458).
Lubbock Christian, propelled by 525 points and its previously mentioned SAC Tournament title, jumped one spot from No. 5 to No. 4 in this week’s edition. The Chaps have won 11-of-13 since being swept at Oklahoma City April 12 – 13, including a sweep of then-No. Rogers State (Okla.) April 19 – 20 and a victory against then-No. 15 Oklahoma Baptist in SAC Tournament pool play on May 3.
Rounding out the top five is No. 5 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) with 505 points. The Eagles, who were upset in extra-innings in the first round of The Sun Conference Tournament, won three-straight on the final day of the event to claim the 2013 conference tournament crown. Embry-Riddle also won the conference’s regular-season championship.
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) tournament champion Sterling (Kan.) made the biggest jump within the poll, vaulting three spots from No. 18 to No. 15. The Warriors finished the season with a 46-12 record, including a 24-4 mark in KCAC action.
No. 24 LSU Shreveport (La.) is the only newcomer to the Top 25 this week. The Pilots, who were last ranked on Nov. 13, 2012 (2013 Preseason Poll), rebounded from a first round loss to No. 16 Texas Wesleyan with four-straight victories to win their third-straight Red River Athletic Conference Tournament title.
Lyon (Ark.), previously ranked No. 22, fell out of the Top 25 this week.
Fourteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four squads from the Sooner Athletic Conference. The Southern States Athletic Conference, Red River Athletic Conference and Mid-South Conference are tied for second with three teams each.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups. The postseason Top 25 will be announced on June 5.
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Notes (All information dates back to 2000 season): Faulkner (Ala.) is making its first-ever appearance at No. 1 … The Eagles are the ninth team since 2000 to receive the No. 1 ranking … Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) leads all teams with 53 top mentions, while Oklahoma City is second with 31. Six other teams have been ranked No. 1 in at least two polls: Lubbock Christian (Texas) (13), Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (11), LSU Shreveport (La.) (6), Lee (Tenn.) (6), Cumberland (Tenn.) (4) and Tennessee Wesleyan (2) … Four teams have been ranked No. 1 this season: Faulkner, Oklahoma City, Lee and Tennessee Wesleyan … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 127-straight polls … The next closest consecutive streak is owned by Lee, who has received Top 25 mention in 71-straight … Thirty-seven programs have received Top 25 recognition this season … The Sooner Athletic Conference leads all leagues with four teams in the Top 25, including a pair of top-five squads … Lee and Oklahoma City have been ranked in the top five in every poll this season … No. 24 LSU Shreveport (La.) joins the poll for the first time since the Preseason edition (Nov. 13, 2012).2012-13 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Final (May 5)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||2||Faulkner (Ala.) (11)||47-10||581|
|2||1||Oklahoma City (10)||47-10||580|
|4||5||Lubbock Christian (Texas)||42-15||525|
|7||7||The Master’s (Calif.)||40-15||489|
|10||10||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||38-13||415|
|T11||12||Cal State San Marcos||35-10||388|
|19||21||Point Park (Pa.)||39-14||228|
|22||23||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||42-18||166|
|23||25||Science & Arts (Okla.)||40-17||149|
|24||RV||LSU Shreveport (La.)||40-16||147|
|25||24||William Carey (Miss.)||35-21||143|
Others receiving votes: Lyon (Ark.) 121; Judson (Ill.) 83; Ave Maria (Fla.) 80; Mayville State (N.D.) 63; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 45; Tabor (Kan.) 44; Taylor (Ind.) 31; Southern Poly (Ga.) 29; Davenport (Mich.) 9; Menlo (Calif.) 7; Northwestern (Iowa) 4.