By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the second-straight week, Oklahoma Baptist owns the top spot in the 2014 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Bison received 12 first-place votes and 552 total points en route to their second all-time No. 1 ranking, dating back to 2000.
Oklahoma Baptist’s offense has been unstoppable in its last six games, outscoring its opponents 92-8, including a 23-4 trouncing of NCAA Division II East Central (Okla.) on April 8. The Bison (36-6) continue to be led by reigning NAIA Player of the Year Matt Page, who ranks among the top four in the NAIA in RBIs per game (1.4), total bases per game (2.7), runs scored per game (1.2), total bases (110), RBIs (57) and slugging percentage (0.797).
No. 2 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and No. 3 Faulkner (Ala.) hold down their positions for the second-consecutive week. The Warriors (32-5), who enter the week riding a 14-game winning streak, claimed five first-place votes and 541 points this edition. Lewis-Clark State wraps up NAIA West Group play with a four-game series against Corban (Ore.) April 18 – 19.
Defending national champion Faulkner claimed two first-place votes and 526 total points this week. The Eagles rest atop the standings of a heavily contested Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) regular-season race with an 18-6 record. Faulkner faces arguably its toughest test of the season with a two-game, mid-week series against No. 4 Georgia Gwinnett on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Georgia Gwinnett, which received the final first-place vote and 513 points, jumped one spot from last edition. The Grizzlies have won 14 of their last 16 games, including a series sweep of LSU Alexandria (La.) this past weekend. Georgia Gwinnett’s 14-7 victory against the Generals on Sunday was its 40th of the season, which enters the week as the most in the NAIA.
Rounding out the top five is No. 5 San Diego Christian with 465 points. The Hawks took 2-of-3 this past weekend against then-No. 14 Vanguard (Calif.) to improve to 34-13 on the year, including a 21-9 mark in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). San Diego Christian faces another tough test on Wednesday and Thursday when it travels to No. 16 Concordia (Calif.) for a three-game set.
No. 12 The Master’s (Calif.) highlights the positive movement in this week’s poll, jumping five places from No. 17. Conversely, Belhaven (Miss.) dropped a poll-high 12 spots to No. 23 after going winless in a three-game series at then-unranked Southern Poly (Ga.) on April 11 – 12.
No. 17 Southern Poly, fueled by its aforementioned sweep of Belhaven, and No. 25 Sterling (Kan.) are the newcomers to the poll. The Hornets have won eight-straight and rest in third-place in the SSAC standings. Similarly, Sterling has won six of its last seven games, including taking three of four against then-No. 10 Tabor (Kan.) last weekend.
Fourteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four programs from the SSAC and the GSAC.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups. The fifth regular-season Top 25 will be announced on April 22.
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Notes (all information dates back to 2000): Oklahoma Baptist is making its second-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. 2 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), Tennessee Wesleyan (2) and Oklahoma Baptist … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 132-straight polls … The next closest active streak is owned by Embry-Riddle, who has received Top 25 mentions in 70-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 … 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. 4 (April 15)
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Oklahoma Baptist (12)||36-6||552|
|2||2||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (5)||32-5||541|
|3||3||Faulkner (Ala.) (2)||36-10||526|
|4||5||Georgia Gwinnett (1)||40-6||513|
|5||6||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||34-13||465|
|9||8||LSU Shreveport (La.)||36-11||425|
|12||17||The Master’s (Calif.)||33-12||352|
|17||RV||Southern Poly (Ga.)||32-14||255|
|18||22||Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)||28-5||230|
|22||25||Point Park (Pa.)||31-12||182|
Others receiving votes: St. Thomas (Fla.) 83; Westmont (Calif.) 43; Jamestown (N.D.) 40; Midland (Neb.) 30; Talladega (Ala.) 29; Tennessee Wesleyan 28; Friends (Kan.) 24; Lyon (Ark.) 24; LSU Alexandria (La.) 21; Northwood (Texas) 16; William Woods (Mo.) 11; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 11; Judson (Ill.) 10; Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 9; Campbellsville (Ky.) 8; Davenport (Mich.) 8; Mobile (Ala.) 5.