By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
Photo by Nathan Kelly
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Propelled by a four-game series sweep against a top-five opponent, Oklahoma City receives the No. 1 ranking in the fourth regular-season edition of the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, announced Tuesday by the NAIA national office. The top billing is the 29th all-time for the Stars since 2000 and first since the 2012 Preseason Poll on Nov. 15, 2011. Oklahoma City claimed 15 first-place votes and 586 points in this week’s edition.
Oklahoma City, who has not been ranked outside of the top 10 since the 2009 Preseason Coaches’ Poll (Nov. 8, 2011), has lost only twice – both by one run – in its last 19 games en route to a 37-8 overall record. The Stars improved to 17-3 in the Sooner Athletic Conference – three games ahead of second-place No. 15 Rogers State (Okla.) (14-6) – after completing a four-game series sweep of then-No. 5 Lubbock Christian (Texas) April 12 – 13. Oklahoma City is second in the NAIA in slugging percentage (0.511) and home runs per game (1.0) and returns to the diamond Friday at Wayland Baptist (Texas).
Lee (Tenn.) lands at No. 2 this week with four first-place votes and 571 points after spending the three previous polls at No. 1. The Flames won 2-of-3 over the weekend against Southern Wesleyan (S.C.) to improve to 36-9 on the year and 20-4 in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Lee continues to showcase one of the NAIA’s top pitching staffs, leading the nation in opponent batting average (.201) and earned run average (1.91), while resting at No. 2 in strikeouts (379).
No. 3 Northwood claimed the final two first-place votes and 546 points. The Knights lead the Red River Athletic Conference by one-half a game over No. 24 Bacone (Okla.) with a 21-3 mark. Northwood enters the week ranked amongst the top five in the NAIA in doubles (105), slugging percentage (0.489), hits per game (10.3), home runs per game (0.7), RBI per game (6.8) and batting average (.328).
Falling one-spot to No. 4 is Faulkner (Ala.) with 539 points, while perennial power No. 5 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) climbs back into the top five after a one-week hiatus with 503 points. The Eagles have won 13 of their last 15 games en route to a NAIA-best 38 victories this season. Lewis-Clark State boasts a six-game winning streak after sweeping Simpson (Calif.) April 13 – 14 in NAIA West Group action.
Bellevue’s (Neb.) four-spot jump from No. 10 to No. 6 highlights the poll, as the Bruins are the only team within the Top 25 to post a positive movement of more than two places. Bellevue, who trails No. 14 York (Neb.) by one game in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference race, entered the week riding a seven-game winning streak after sweeping Central Christian (Kan.) April 12 – 13.
In contrast to Bellevue, No. 23 St. Thomas (Fla.) dropped four spots from last edition after losing two-of-three last weekend at No. 8 Embry-Riddle (Fla.).
No new teams joined the poll this week.
Thirteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four squads from the Sooner Athletic Conference – Oklahoma City, No. 6 Lubbock Christian, Rogers State and No. 19 Oklahoma Baptist. The Southern States Athletic Conference and Red River Athletic 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 fifth regular-season Top 25 will be announced on April 23.
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Notes (All information dates back to 2000 season): Oklahoma City is making its 29th appearance at No. 1 and first since the 2012 Preseason Coaches Top 25 Poll on Nov. 15, 2011 … Oklahoma City has been rated within the top 10 in every poll since last going unranked on Nov. 8, 2008 (2009 preseason poll), a span of 39-straight …The Stars’ 29 No. 1’s rank second all-time, trailing only Lewis-Clark State’s (Idaho) 53 all-time top mentions … 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) … Three teams have been ranked No. 1 this season: Oklahoma City, Lee and Tennessee Wesleyan … Lewis-Clark Stats has been ranked in a NAIA-best 124-straight polls … The next closest consecutive polls streak is owned by Lee (Tenn.), who has received Top 25 mention in 68-straight polls …Thirty-six 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-10 squads.2012-13 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 4 (April 16)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||2||Oklahoma City (15)||37-8||586|
|2||1||Lee (Tenn.) (4)||36-9||571|
|3||4||Northwood (Texas) (2)||35-8||546|
|5||7||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||34-9||503|
|T6||5||Lubbock Christian (Texas)||32-13||464|
|9||6||The Master’s (Calif.)||32-14||442|
|11||11||Cal State San Marcos||29-7||405|
|15||15||Rogers State (Okla.)||29-12||313|
|18||16||William Carey (Miss.)||31-15||250|
|21||22||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||34-15||196|
|23||19||St. Thomas (Fla.)||31-15||179|
Others receiving votes: Georgetown (Ky.) 69; Science & Arts (Okla.) 56; Mayville State (N.D.) 46; Madonna (Mich.) 40; Belhaven (Miss.) 38; Ave Maria (Fla.) 29; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 28; LSU Alexandria (La.) 26; Point Park (Pa.) 14; Arizona Christian 13; LSU Shreveport (La.) 10; Bethel (Tenn.) 3; Tabor (Kan.) 3; Judson (Ill.) 3.