KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the 17th-consecutive poll dating back to the 2009 season, California Baptist boasts the No. 1 ranking in the first regular-season edition of the 2011 NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. Behind 591 total points and all 21 first-place votes, the Lancers rule the top of the poll. California Baptist holds the most wins in the NAIA with a 33-1 record and leads No. 2-ranked William Carey (Miss.) by 19 points this week. Following the Lady Crusaders is No. 3 Concordia (Calif.) with 541 points and fourth-ranked California State-San Marcos with 531 points. Lubbock Christian (Texas) holds steady at No. 5 with 503 points.

Riding a 16-game winning streak on the season, California Baptist’s only loss came against then-No. 8 California State-San Marcos on March 1 by a 1-0 shutout. The Lancers have a doubleheader remaining this week at home against Sioux Falls (S.D.) on Thursday. They rank No. 1 in five major statistical categories, including total hits (333), runs (299), RBI (284) and earned run average (0.480). Looking at the dominance since California Baptist was ranked No. 1 starting on March 24, 2009, the Lancers hold a 128-8 (.941) overall record.

There are five newcomers to the first regular-season Top 25. Making the biggest leap is No. 7 Central Baptist (Ark.) with the only NAIA undefeated record at 24-0. Also making the jump is No. 17 SCAD Savannah (Ga.), No. 18 Southern Nazarene (Okla.), No. 19 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and No. 24 Biola (Calif.).

Lee (Tenn.), ranked seventh in the Preseason Top 25, fell out of the ranks after a 11-5 start to the year. Other teams to drop out are Azusa Pacific (Calif.) (No. 22 – tied), MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) (No. 22 – tied), Union (Tenn.) (No. 24 – tied) and Warner (Fla.) (No. 24 – tied).

Stumbling to a 4-6 overall record, defending national champion Simon Fraser (B.C.) is ranked 25th. The next scheduled games will be against No. 4 California State-San Marcos on April 2.

Thirteen conferences and unaffiliated groupings are represented in the poll. The Southern States Athletic Conference leads all leagues with five ranked teams: William Carey, No. 6 Brenau (Ga.), No. 9 Belhaven (Miss.), No. 15 Mobile (Ala.) and No. 22 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.). The Association of Independent Institutions lands four programs, while the Golden State Athletic Conference and Sooner Athletic Conference boast a trio of Top 25 teams.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conference/independent/unaffiliated. The second regular season Top 25 will be announced on March 29, 2011. For more information about NAIA softball, click here.

To view the entire poll, click herehere.

- Courtesy of the NAIA

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