The Arkansas Tech Winter Invitational welcomed eight ranked teams on the opening weekend of the DII softball season. When the dust settled, we had a new No. 1 and a shakeup in this week’s Power 10 rankings, the first of the regular season.
If you missed the preseason Power 10 softball rankings, let’s do a quick refresh. 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 first 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 first Power 10 of the 2020 DII softball season.
The DII softball Power 10: Week 1 (all games and stats through Feb. 2)
No. 1 Texas A&M-Kingsville | 6-0 | Preseason: 2
The Javelinas jump one spot to No. 1 after a perfect weekend at the Arkansas Tech Winter Invitational. They handed four nationally-ranked teams — Central Oklahoma, Southern Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Tarleton State — a loss while their two aces helped limit the six teams to 15 runs. This team is locked and loaded for another big season.
No. 2 Augustana (SD) | 4-2 | Preseason: 1
The Vikings dropped two games in Conroe, Texas, at the Arkansas Tech Winter Invitational, and despite dropping two games, the reigning champs still picked up top-25 wins against Cameron and Texas A&M-Commerce. Augustana also lost both games by a combined three runs, so the Vikings were very much in every game they played. This team has plenty of returning fire power, and the way Ashley Mickschl played, Augustana has nothing to worry about.
PRESEASON RANKINGS: Vikings top first-ever preseason Power 10
No. 3 UC San Diego | 5-0 | Preseason: 6
The Tritons went to the Desert Stinger Tournament in Las Vegas and came out a perfect 5-0. Now, they didn’t pick up any wins against ranked competition, but 5-0 is 5-0. Keila Bosinger enjoyed the desert air, as the outfielder hit .471 with three bombs over the weekend, driving in 11 of the Tritons’ 31 runs scored. UCSD opens conference play this week with a packed six-game schedule against Hawaii Pacific and Sonoma State.
No. 4 West Chester | 0-0 | Preseason: 4
Not much to report here. The Golden Rams wisely await for their opening day on Feb. 15 instead of trying to brave the cold or battle postponements. Now that being said, West Chester will test itself right out of the gates, playing Southern Indiana twice and fellow Power 10-er North Georgia on their first weekend of play. We’ll see pretty quickly if the Rams have what it takes for a third-straight trip to the DII softball championship finals.
No. 5 Grand Valley State | 0-0 | Preseason: 6
See above. We’ll have to wait to see what the Lakers bring to the circle with the graduation of ace Allison Lipovsky, but the Lakers are a top 5 team in my mind for now. GVSU will open at the Music City Invitational on Feb. 14 against Illinois Springfield with a big matchup against UIndy the next day.
HOME RUNS: Here’s the top sluggers returning for 2020
No. 6 Young Harris | 2-0 | Preseason: 9
We didn’t get to see all that much of the Mountain Lions as two games from their four-game opening weekend were postponed. That said, we had questions about their pitching entering the season and Sam Davis (complete game, eight-strikeout, one-run victory) and Sara King fared well. Both struggled a bit with walks but this was the momentum-builder the new-look staff needed.
No. 7 West Florida | 2-2 | Preseason: 3
What an up-and-down weekend for the Argonauts at the Gulf Coast Invitational. They came out and routed No. 9 and South Region rival Florida Tech 11-2 before falling to unranked Nova Southeastern 8-1. The next day, West Florida fell to an underrated Saint Leo team (ranked No. 25) before blowing out Miles in the finale. We know this team can hit — Teala Howard is already 7-for-14 with seven runs scored while Grace Gilbert went 7-for-15 with eight RBI on the weekend — and we know from last year they can pitch. Gilbert and Kelsey Sweatt just need to settle in and find that consistency and the Florida Tech Invitational this weekend would be a good place to start.
No. 8 Concordia (CA) | 4-1 | Preseason: 7
The Eagles record looks good on paper, but the one loss came at the hands of the lone ranked team they faced this opening weekend, getting blanked by No. 20 Chico State. Concordia Irvine earned its lofty ranking because of the returners — every single one of them to be precise — especially ace Callie Nunes. And Nunes delivered on opening weekend, picking up two wins and allowing just one earned run over her first 16 innings while striking out 19. If she keeps this up, these Eagles are just fine.
No. 9 Texas A&M-Commerce | 4-1 | Preseason: NR
The Lions came out and sent an early message, dominating No. 7 Central Oklahoma 10-0 in five innings on opening day. They were headed to a perfect weekend at the Arkansas Tech Winter Invitational, until an Ashley Mickschl vs. Emily Otto pitcher’s duel ended 1-0 in Augustana (SD)’s favor. Still, the Commerce pitching allowed three runs all weekend which was pretty impressive in the stacked field at Conroe. There’s little time to celebrate as they prepare for Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas in their own tournament this weekend.
No. 10 North Georgia | 4-0 | Preseason: NR
This was a tough spot to pick as it came down to a few teams, but the Nighthawks’ perfect start sees them jump into the mix. I had them as a preseason honorable mention primarily because of Kylee Smith and she certainly didn’t disappoint this weekend. Smith tossed two complete game shutouts, striking out 22 over 14 innings. The hitting could prove to be a problem for the Nighthawks on some weekends, but with Smith in the circle, this team will win ballgames.
Also considered (in alphabetical order)
- Lincoln Memorial
- Southern Arkansas
- Winona State