LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Last season’s national runner-up Texas-Tyler is the unanimous No. 1 team in the NFCA Division III Top 25 Preseason Poll to start the season.
The Patriots, who went 50-5 and recorded the second-most wins in a Division III campaign last season, host Pacific Lutheran later today in their 2016 opener. Texas-Tyler returns 16 players, including NFCA All-America pitcher Kelsie Batten and staffmate Alaina Kissinger.
Tufts, which was 51-0 a year ago to become the first team to win three straight Division III national championships, starts the year at No. 6 after graduating four-time NFCA All-America pitcher Alyson Fournier and four other players, including NFCA All-Region outfielder Michelle Cooprider. The Jumbos were ranked No. 1 for all 13 weeks of last season and spent 16 consecutive weeks as the unanimous No. 1 team overall, dating back to April 2014. They come into the season having won 84 of their last 85 games.
Fellow NCAA Championship participants Salisbury (37-8 last year) and DePauw (36-16) occupy the No. 2 and 3 spots, while perennial national contender East Texas Baptist (35-6) is ranked fourth and Linfield (39-15), who also reached the NCAA Championship in Salem, Va., starts the year at No. 5.
Rounding out the top 10 teams are Luther, Washington (Mo.), Rowan and Alfred. The No. 10 Saxons, No. 11 Alma and Kean at No. 16 were the other three teams that advanced to the NCAA Championship site last season.
The NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll is selected by eight NCAA Division III head coaches representing the eight NCAA regions. Final 2015 records are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses.
NFCA Division III Top 25 Preseason Poll – Feb. 3, 2016
|4||East Texas Baptist||35-6|
|16 (tie)||Illinois Wesleyan||36-10|
Others receiving votes: Gustavus Adolphus, St. Thomas (Minn.), Berry, Trine, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Wheaton (Ill.), Wis.-Eau Claire, Aurora and Oneonta.