By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oklahoma Baptist garners its fourth-straight No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Bison, who enter the week riding a 14-game winning streak, received 19-of-21 first-place votes and 590 total points.
The final regular-season Top 25 Coaches’ Poll will be announced May 9 at 4 p.m. CDT with the 45 NAIA National Championship Opening Round qualifiers announced at 5 p.m. The brackets for the nine Opening Round host sites will be announced via a video selection show at 7 p.m. on www.NAIA.org.
Oklahoma Baptist (44-6) clinched the regular-season Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) title with an 18-11 shootout victory against St. Gregory’s (Okla.). The Bison went on to sweep the series against the Cavaliers to wrap up the SAC regular season with a 22-4 record. Oklahoma Baptist has two regular-season games remaining on its schedule – Tuesday against NCAA Division II Rogers State (Okla.) and Wednesday against NCCAA Hillsdale Free Will Baptist (Okla.) – before opening conference tournament action on Friday against Mid-America Christian (Okla.) at 6 p.m.
Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) returns to the No. 2 ranking after a one-week hiatus with one first-place vote and 554 total points. The Warriors enter the week with a 39-7 record, one win shy of their third-straight 40-win season. Lewis-Clark State, which does not participate in the NAIA West Group Tournament, rounds out the regular season with games against NCAA Division II Western Oregon and NCAA Division III Linfield (Ore.).
Georgetown (Ky.), which made its first-ever top five appearance dating back to 2000 last week, checks in at No. 3 with 542 points. The Tigers won their first-ever Mid-South Conference (MSC) regular-season title after finishing the regular season on an 11-game winning streak that included three-game series sweeps of Cumberlands (Ky.), Campbellsville (Ky.) and Pikeville (Ky.). Georgetown opens MSC tournament action on Sunday against Cumberlands at 1 p.m.
Rounding out the top five this week are No. 4 Faulkner (Ala.) with one first-place vote and 540 points and No. 5 Oklahoma Wesleyan with 531 points. The defending Avista-NAIA World Series champion Eagles are 2-2 in their last four games with losses coming against Southern Wesleyan (S.C.), 7-6, on April 21 and Martin Methodist (Tenn.), 8-5, on April 25. Despite the losses, Faulkner claimed its third-straight Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) regular-season banner after finishing the year with a 22-8 mark in the league. The Eagles play Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the SSAC first round.
Oklahoma Wesleyan, which was unranked in the 2014 Preseason Poll, owns a NAIA-best and program record 49 victories. The Eagles, who locked up the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 7-5 win at Central Baptist (Ark.) on April 19, are the No. 1 seed in the conference’s postseason tournament and await the winner of Central Baptist and College of the Ozarks (Mo.) on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 19 Point Park (Pa.) highlighted the positive movement within the poll this week, jumping four spots from No. 23. The Pioneers, who claimed both the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament crowns, are idle until the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
No. 22 Vanguard (Calif.) and No. 25 Jamestown (N.D.) are this week’s newcomers. The Lions were last ranked on April 15, while Jamestown receives its first Top 25 mention since ranking No. 23 in the 2009 Preseason Poll.
Fifteen 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.
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Notes (all information dates back to 2000): Oklahoma Baptist is making its fourth-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), Faulkner (5), Cumberland (Tenn.) (4), Oklahoma Baptist (4) and Tennessee Wesleyan (2) … Lewis-Clark State has been ranked in a NAIA-best 134-straight polls … The next closest active streak is owned by Embry-Riddle, which has received Top 25 mentions in 72-straight … Thirty-seven programs received Top 25 recognition in 2013 … No. 6 Georgia Gwinnett, which opened the year unranked, received its first-ever Top 25 appearance on March 25 … No. 21 Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) made its first appearance since the 2005 Preseason Poll – a string of 87-straight editions – on April 8 … No. 24 Westmont (Calif.) received its first-ever Top 25 mention on April 22 … Forty-four 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. 6 (April 29)
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2014 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Oklahoma Baptist (19)||44-6||590|
|2||3||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (1)||39-7||554|
|4||2||Faulkner (Ala.) (1)||42-12||540|
|7||7||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||37-16||461|
|10||8||LSU Shreveport (La.)||40-14||419|
|12||12||The Master’s (Calif.)||37-14||377|
|14||15||Southern Poly (Ga.)||38-16||326|
|19||23||Point Park (Pa.)||38-13||223|
|21||17||Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)||37-8||203|
Others receiving votes: Davenport (Mich.) 99; William Woods (Mo.) 96; Sterling (Kan.) 59; Concordia (Calif.) 56; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 46; Cumberland (Tenn.) 39; Talladega (Ala.) 38; Tennessee Wesleyan 25; Northwood (Texas) 13; Midland (Neb.) 13; Mayville State (N.D.) 12; British Columbia 6; Friends (Kan.) 4; Judson (Ill.) 3; Thomas (Ga.) 3; LSU Alexandria (La.) 3.