By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oklahoma Baptist, fueled by a 10-game winning streak during which the Bison have outscored opponents 141-16, maintained the No. 1 ranking for the third-straight week in the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Bison, who gathered 18 first-place votes and 589 total points, were the only team among the top 10 to hold its position from last week.
Oklahoma Baptist earned its fourth-straight and 13th all-time 40-win season with a three-game sweep of Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) rival SAGU (Texas) on April 17 – 18. The Bison tallied 37 runs on 35 hits in the series to improve on their already NAIA leading runs scored per game (9.8) and RBIs per game (8.6) averages. Oklahoma Baptist also paces the NAIA in doubles (126), hits per game (11.4), batting average (0.357) and slugging percentage (0.566). The Bison, who enter Tuesday with a 2.5-game lead over No. 14 Oklahoma City and Wayland Baptist (Texas) in the league standings, have six games remaining on their regular season schedule – none against teams ranked in this week’s Coaches’ Poll.
Defending national champion Faulkner (Ala.) comes in at No. 2 this week with two first-place votes and 566 total points. The Eagles, who held the No. 1 ranking for three-straight polls earlier this season, picked up a pair of key home victories against then-No. 4 Georgia Gwinnett, 6-1 and 5-4, on April 15 – 16. Faulkner also won its second-straight conference series, taking 2-of-3 games against Southern Wesleyan (S.C.) over the weekend. The Eagles face another tough test on Tuesday when they travel to No. 15 Southern Poly (Ga.).
Despite wins in 17 of its last 18 games, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) fell one position to No. 3 with one first-place vote and 560 points. The Warriors only loss during the stretch came against Corban (Ore.), 5-0, on April 18. Lewis-Clark State returns to the diamond on April 24 against NCAA Division II Northwest Nazarene (Idaho) for the first of a four-game series.
No. 4 Georgetown (Ky.) and No. 5 Oklahoma Wesleyan, which are both making its first-ever top-five appearance dating back to 2000, round out the top five with 517 and 509 points, respectively. Georgetown enters the week riding a seven-game winning streak, including a pair of Mid-South Conference series sweeps of Cumberlands (Ky.) (April 11 – 12) and Campbellsville (Ky.) (April 18 – 19). The Tigers battle Union (Ky.) on Wednesday before wrapping up the regular-season with a three-game series at Pikeville (Ky.) April 25 – 26.
Oklahoma Wesleyan, which was unranked in the 2014 Preseason Poll, owns a NAIA-best and program record 44 victories. The Eagles also locked up the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 7-5 win at Central Baptist (Ark.) on April 19.
No. 18 Westmont (Calif.) is the edition’s lone newcomer. The Warriors are ranked for the first time, dating back to 2000, and rest two games out of first place in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) standings. Westmont (33-14), which has won 12-straight and is one victory shy of tying the program record for wins in a season, closes the regular-season with a weekend series against No. 12 The Master’s (Calif.).
Fourteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four programs from the Southern States Athletic Conference and the GSAC.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. The sixth regular-season Top 25 will be announced on April 29.
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Notes (all information dates back to 2000): Oklahoma Baptist is making its third-straight appearance at No. 1 … The Bison and defending national champion Faulkner (Ala.) are the only teams to hold the No. 1 ranking in 2014 … Four teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2013: Faulkner, Oklahoma City, Tennessee Wesleyan and former-member Lee (Tenn.) … Ten different teams have held the No. 1 ranking since 2000 … No. 3 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) leads all programs with 53 top mentions, while Oklahoma City is second with 31 … Eight other teams have been ranked No. 1 in at least two polls: former member Lubbock Christian (Texas) (13), Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (11), LSU Shreveport (La.) (6), Lee (6), Cumberland (Tenn.) (4), Faulkner (5), Oklahoma Baptist (3) and Tennessee Wesleyan (2) … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 133-straight polls … The next closest active streak is owned by Embry-Riddle, who has received Top 25 mentions in 71-straight … Thirty-seven programs received Top 25 recognition in 2013 … No. 4 Georgia Gwinnett, which opened the year unranked, received its first-ever Top 25 appearance on March 25 … No. 18 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) made its first appearance since the 2005 Preseason Poll – a string of 87-straight editions – on April 8 … No. 18 Westmont (Calif.) received its first-ever Top 25 mention this week … Forty-three teams have been ranked in 2014 … The Golden State Athletic Conference and the Southern State Athletic Conference lead all leagues with four ranked teams.2014 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 5 (April 22)
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Oklahoma Baptist (18)||40-6||589|
|2||3||Faulkner (Ala.) (2)||39-10||566|
|3||2||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (1)||35-6||560|
|7||5||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||35-15||478|
|8||9||LSU Shreveport (La.)||37-12||451|
|12||12||The Master’s (Calif.)||35-13||370|
|15||17||Southern Poly (Ga.)||36-15||306|
|17||18||Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)||34-5||275|
|23||22||Point Park (Pa.)||35-13||204|
Others receiving votes: Jamestown (N.D.) 73; William Woods (Mo.) 66; St. Thomas (Fla.) 49; Midland (Neb.) 33; Judson (Ill.) 28; Talladega (Ala.) 28; Davenport (Mich.) 23; Tennessee Wesleyan 19; Northwood (Texas) 14; Vanguard (Calif.) 12; Friends (Kan.) 8; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 7; LSU Alexandria (La.) 7; Mobile (Ala.) 5; Mayville State (N.D.) 3.