Texas A&M-Kingsville had another strong weekend, improving to 9-1 on the season and remaining the cream of the DII college softball crop, for now. That said, this week’s Power 10 rankings sees two newcomers enter the mix.
We must remember that DII softball is a rolling start so to speak. Some teams in our Power 10 haven’t even played yet, but they are still top-10 worthy. Because of that, I’ll take a look at five additional teams that were considered based purely on their starts to the 2020 season.
How do the DII softball Power 10 rankings work? These are my top 10 rankings, put together using much of the same criteria the selection committee uses for the DII softball championship tournament. These early rankings will be based more on current record and preseason ranking, but as we move forward I’ll look at strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups and records against DII ranked opponents amongst other criteria.
Let’s break down the second Power 10 of the 2020 DII softball season.
The DII softball Power 10: Week 2 (all games and stats through Feb. 9)
No. 1 Texas A&M-Kingsville | 9-1 | Previous: 1
The Javelinas dropped their first game of the season, but that doesn’t diminish the strong start at all, especially considering Mississippi College is a very good team. Saidi Castillo has been absolutely dominant in her four starts, allowing just three runs in 26 innings while striking out 32. At the plate, Matisen Onofrei is in the proverbial zone, hitting. 387 with a team-high four home runs. On the whole, the Javelinas are hitting .321.
No. 2 Augustana (SD) | 4-2 | Previous: 2
The Vikings had an off week so we won’t penalize the defending national champions after not playing a game. Sure, Augustana had two losses at the Arkansas Tech Winter Invitational, but the field was stacked. Half of the Vikings wins are against top 15 teams in the early going, so they appear to be just fine.
No. 3 UC San Diego | 9-2 | Previous: 3
The Tritons didn’t match their 5-0 opening week as California Collegiate Athletic Association play opened this past weekend. That said, they lost a pair of games by a mere run each to a very solid Sonoma State squad. This team is hitting .346 overall with Mikalla Reyes leading the charge hitting .394 with a team-high six extra base hits. In the circle, starters Robyn Wampler and Alanna Phillips have pitched to a 1.96 combined ERA so far. The Tritons are in a tricky region, so this is the solid start they need.
No. 4 West Florida | 6-3 | Previous: 7
The Argos bounced back after a .500 opening weekend with a 4-1 run through the Florida Tech Invitational. They now have three of their six wins against top 25 competition, avenging a Week 1 loss to Saint Leo on Saturday. Last year’s breakout freshman star Teala Howard is still hitting everything thrown her way, starting the season with a .485 average as two-way star Grace Gilbert continues to shine at the plate (.406, one home run) and in the circle (2-2, 1.30 ERA).
No. 5 Young Harris | 5-0 | Previous: 6
I know what you’re going to ask: why aren’t the undefeated Mountain Lions ranked higher than teams with losses? Young Harris was in my preseason Power 10 but had question marks surrounding its new-look rotation. Thus far, the pitchers have answered the call, pitching to a 1.91 ERA led by Sam Davis who is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA while holding opponents to a .143 batting average. The teams ahead of Young Harris have played some stiffer, ranked competition so we’ll wait and see how the Mountain Lions respond to their big showdown against Lincoln Memorial next week.
HOME RUNS: Here’s the top sluggers returning for 2020
No. 6 West Chester | 0-0 | Previous: 4
Still nothing doing in West Chester as the Golden Rams finally open their season this weekend. And we’ll learn quickly what they are made of facing off against Southern Indiana and fellow Power-10er North Georgia. West Chester is looking to make a third-straight trip to the DII softball championship finals and on paper they have the returners and talent to do it.
No. 7 Grand Valley State | 0-0 | Previous: 5
Like West Chester, we’ll finally see the Lakers in action this coming weekend at the Music City Invitational. We know Grand Valley State has the bats with Lydia Goble and Nikoma Holmen returning, but there will be big shows to fill in the circle with the loss of Allison Lipovsky. While this weekend won’t define their season, it will be a great test to see how the new-look pitching will work.
No. 8 North Georgia | 5-1 | Previous: 10
The Nighthawks had a 1-1 week dropping a heartbreaker to Lenoir-Rhyne and losing 1-0 on a run scored in the final inning of play. It was the first run all-world pitcher Kylee Smith allowed this season and on top of that, it was unearned. Overall, this pitching staff has posted a 0.83 ERA and 1.00 WHIP and looks very sharp. Offensively, North Georgia has some nice bats — like Kaylyn Anthony and Shelby Hammontree — helping the Nighthawks off to a .301 average while the pitchers are holding opponents to a .195 average.
No. 9 Chico State| 9-0 | Previous: NR
The Wildcats were at the DII softball championship finals in 2018 and the way they’ve started 2020 it looks like they are more than capable of another deep run. Chico State had a big opening weekend at the Concordia Kickoff Classic, including a big 4-0 shutout over host and then-Power 10-er Concordia (CA). This team is built on pitching as starters Brooke Larsen and Sam Mulock have allowed just five earned runs over their first 61 innings pitched. UCSD and Chico should make for a fun season in the CCAA.
No. 10 Southern Arkansas | 6-2 | Previous: NR
This spot came down to the Muleriders and Texas A&M-Commerce, and Southern Arkansas picked up a big win in Commerce this past weekend as the deciding factor. We know the story with Southern Arkansas: offense won’t ever be a question. As a team, the Muleriders are hitting .320 with 16 doubles, seven triples, and eight home runs already.
Also considered (in alphabetical order)
- Cameron: I know, I’m still too high on the Aggies, but they rebounded from a rough start with a 4-1 weekend. The returning experience should compete, even in a loaded Lone Star Conference.
- Central Oklahoma: How do you respond from a 1-5 opening weekend? You plow through your own tournament and go a perfect 6-0, winning those games by a combined score of 45-9.
- Concordia (CA): It’s probably unfair that the Eagles dropped out of the Power 10 during an off week, but Chico State is red-hot and handed Concordia its only loss this season. This is a very experienced squad and I expect them back in and around the Power 10 all season.
- Lincoln Memorial: Unfortunately the opening showdown against Southern Indiana was postponed, but the Railsplitters walked away 3-1 on their opening weekend.
- Texas A&M-Commerce: Like I said, the Lions were a just miss, dropping from the Power 10 solely based on a loss to a team that replaced them. This team has wins against ranked opponents this season and is more than capable of competing.