KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tennessee Wesleyan is the ninth-ranked team in the first regular-season edition of the 2013 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday.
The Bulldgos (25-9 overall, 10-2 Appalachian Athletic Conference) received 437 total voting points to land at No. 9.
Fellow AAC team Virginia Intermont (16-6 overall, 7-2 AAC) also received three voting points, placing the Cobras 16 spots outside the top 25.
For the second-straight season, Lee (Tenn.) claims the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Coaches' Poll. The Flames, who are earning their fourth all-time top billing and first since March 27, 2012, were awarded six first-place votes and 546 points.
Lee enters the week winners in six of their last seven games en route to a 26-7 overall record. The Flames showcase one of the NAIA's top pitching staffs, ranking amongst the top three in ERA (1.83), strikeouts (260) and opponent batting average (.192). Jose Samayoa leads the staff with a 6-1 record in 44 innings, while Myles Smith owns a team-best – 18th nationally – 50 strikeouts, including a season-high 11 K's in his most recent outing on March 21 against Southern Poly (Ga.).
Coming in at No. 2 is fellow perennial power Oklahoma City with six first-place votes and 530 points. The Stars, who jumped two positions since the preseason poll, are 26-6 and have won six-straight. During the streak, Oklahoma City has outscored its opponent 46-4.
Cal State San Marcos, who was previously unranked, is No. 3 with six first-place votes and 467 points, while No. 4 Faulkner (Ala.) and No. 5 The Master's (Calif.) round out the top five with 466 and 464 points, respectively. Similarly to Cal State San Marcos, The Master's was not ranked in the preseason poll.
The poll's two remaining first-place votes went to No. 7 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and No. 10 Northwood (Texas).
In a poll that saw all 25 positions change hands, Faulkner, No. 11 Lubbock Christian (Texas) and No. 12 Bellevue (Neb.) boast the largest improvement as each team advanced five places since the Preseason Top 25. Conversely, Sterling (Kan.) fell the farthest within the poll, dropping eight places from No. 15 to No. 23.
In addition to Cal State San Marcos and The Master's, eight newcomers joined the Top 25: Northwood, No. 15 Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 19 William Carey (Miss.), No. 20 York (Neb.), No. 21 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 22 Science & Arts (Okla.), No. 24 Bacone (Okla.) and No. 25 Lyon (Ark.). Lyon ends the longest drought amongst the newcomers with its last mention coming on March 28, 2007.
The following schools dropped out since the preseason poll: Madonna (Mich.) (No. 23), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (No. 12), LSU Shreveport (La.) (No. 2), Georgetown (Ky.) (No. 20), St. Francis (Ill.) (No. 19), Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (No. 18), Doane (Neb.) (No. 23), Judson (Ill.) (No. 25), Point Park (Pa.) (No. 6) and South Carolina Beaufort (No. 21).
Thirteen of the 21 baseball conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by five squads from the Sooner Athletic Conference – Oklahoma City, No. 6 Rogers State (Okla.), Lubbock Christian, No. 14 Oklahoma Baptist and Science & Arts. The Southern State Athletic Conference is second with three teams, including two in the top five – Lee and Faulkner.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups. The second regular-season Top 25 will be announced on April 2.
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