By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oklahoma Baptist receives its first-ever No. 1 ranking, dating back to 2000, in the third regular-season edition of the 2014 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Bison, who received 11 first-place votes and 577 points, replace defending national champion Faulkner (Ala.), which had held the top-spot for five-straight polls.
Oklahoma Baptist has won four of its last five games, including a 6-5 walk-off win against then-No. 12 Tabor (Kan.) on April 1. Second baseman Ridge Hoopii-Haslam was the hero in the contest with a two-out, two-strike home run in the bottom of the ninth. The Bison rank among the top five nationally in seven major offensive categories, including slugging percentage (.542), hits per game (11.0), batting average (.350), doubles (97), triples (17), runs scored (338) and RBI (294).
Jumping one spot to No. 2 is Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) with five first-place votes and 567 points. The Warriors, who have been ranked amongst the top 10 in 19-straight polls, have won 10-consecutive games, including a four-game sweep of Concordia (Ore.) last weekend.
Faulkner and Missouri Baptist are tied at No. 3 this week with 546 points. The Eagles also received four first-place votes. Faulkner’s two-spot slide was due in large part to a 2-3 record in its last five games, including dropping 2-of-3 at Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) rival and then-No. 16 Brewton-Parker (Ga.) on April 4 – 5. The Eagles host Auburn Montgomery for a three-game set this weekend before welcoming No. 5 Georgia Gwinnett on April 15.
Missouri Baptist continues to roll through American Midwest Conference (AMC) play. The Spartans are 15-2 in the league – 30-5 overall – after downing Harris-Stowe State (Mo.), 7-6, on April 1 and Benedictine-Springfield (Ill.), 5-0 and 8-3, on April 5. Missouri Baptist is No. 2 in the NAIA in home runs per game (1.06), led by Jeff Smith’s seven.
With 517 points and one first-place vote, Georgia Gwinnett ranks fifth for the second-straight week. The Grizzlies showcase one of the NAIA’s most potent offenses, leading the nation in triples (24), hits (466), runs scored (414), RBI (357) and stolen bases (146). Georgia Gwinnett also paces the NAIA with 36 wins entering the week.
No. 14 Vanguard (Calif.) vaulted a poll-high 10 spots to post the best improvement within the Top 25. The Lions are 8-2 in their last 10 games, including a series win against then-No. 14 The Master’s (Calif.).
Conversely, Concordia’s (Calif.) 12-position fall from No. 6 to No. 18 was the worst among the poll.
Three newcomers break into the Top 25 this week – No. 22 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio), No. 24 Northwestern (Iowa) and No. 25 Point Park (Pa.). Northwestern and Point Park were both ranked earlier this season, while Mount Vernon Nazarene is making its first appearance since being No. 9 in the 2005 Preseason Poll – a string of 87-straight polls.
Fourteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four programs from the SSAC and the Golden State Athletic Conference
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. The fourth regular-season Top 25 will be announced on April 15.
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Notes (all information dates back to 2000): Oklahoma Baptist is making its first-ever appearance at No. 1 … The Bison join defending national champion Faulkner (Ala.) as 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. 2 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) leads all programs with 53 top mentions, while Oklahoma City is second with 31 … Seven 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) and Tennessee Wesleyan (2) … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 131-straight polls … The next closest active streak is owned by Embry-Riddle, who has received Top 25 mentions in 69-straight … Thirty-seven programs received Top 25 recognition in 2013 … No. 5 Georgia Gwinnett, which opened the year unranked, received its first-ever Top 25 appearance on March 25 … No. 22 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) is making its first appearance since the 2005 Preseason Poll – a string of 87-straight editions … Forty-two 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. 3 (April 8)
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||2||Oklahoma Baptist (11)||32-6||577|
|2||3||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (5)||28-5||567|
|T3||1||Faulkner (Ala.) (4)||33-10||546|
|5||5||Georgia Gwinnett (1)||36-6||517|
|6||8||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||31-11||487|
|8||7||LSU Shreveport (La.)||32-10||453|
|17||14||The Master’s (Calif.)||30-12||290|
|22||RV||Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)||22-5||147|
|25||RV||Point Park (Pa.)||26-11||106|
Others receiving votes: Wayland Baptist (Texas) 104; Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) 94; LSU Alexandria (La.) 58; British Columbia 53; Southern Poly (Ga.) 46; Sterling (Kan.) 41; Tennessee Wesleyan 32; Westmont (Calif.) 29; Midland (Neb.) 24; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 21; Jamestown (N.D.) 18; St. Thomas (Fla.) 17; William Woods (Mo.) 15; Talladega (Ala.) 10; Davenport (Mich.) 9; York (Neb.) 4; Spring Hill (Ala.) 4; Shawnee State (Ohio) 4; Judson (Ill.) 3.