The 2021 DII baseball tournament is here. This is the time of year that pitching plays a pivotal role in silencing the loudest bats in hopes of taking home the national championship. 

Unless, of course, those bats are unstoppable.

Here’s a look at the scariest lineups heading into the regional rounds of the DII baseball championship. Let’s be sure to be perfectly clear: these are just the top lineups remaining in the field. Teams like West Chester and MSU Denver, for example, had solid seasons and very scary lineups but did not make the bracket in this season’s lessened field. And don’t think that any one of these lineups guarantee a team a spot in Cary, N.C. among the final eight in June. Augustana (SD) won a title behind excellent pitching and well-executed small ball with a lineup that hit a mere .307 with 37 home runs in 2018.

So, our focus is on the teams still alive, and while we love home runs (which were obviously part of our considerations), we’re looking at the lineups that produced runs galore all while making contact at absurd — or scary — rates.

Angelo State

The Rams are in the top five in just about every team category. They rank fourth in DII with a .351 batting average, second with 10.9 runs per game and are tops with a .485 on-base percentage (OBP). Angelo State had 10 players who saw regular playing time and made at least 27 starts. Each and every one of them hit above .300. Aaron Walters and Josh Elvir are the heart of this lineup, combining to hit .418 with 34 doubles, 20 home runs and 114 RBIs.

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Azusa Pacific

As a team, the Cougars have slugged the second-most home runs with 99. That equaled 2.41 home runs per game, tops in all of DII baseball. That’s scary alone right there. They are also fourth in the division with a .611 slugging percentage, while hitting a combined .337 with a 1.035 OPS. Osvaldo Tovalin leads the charge, hitting .402 and is one of four Cougars — joining Casey Dykstra, Omar Lopez and Aaron Roose — with at least 10 home runs. Eight of their nine regular starters are hitting.344 or higher and when you throw in two-way star Nick Estrella who split time on the mound and in the lineup — producing a .306 average, nine home runs and a .706 slugging percentage — there is nary a hitter a pitcher can confidently avoid in this lineup.

Central Missouri

The Mules .345 average? Top 10 in DII baseball. Their 79 home runs? Another top 10 mark in DII baseball. Their 429 runs scored? Yes, indeed, it’s a top-10 mark in DII. Their .600 slugging percentage? You get the picture. You’ll see Central Missouri across all the statistical category leaders. That’s because they are dangerous up and down the lineup. 

When Erik Webb is, statistically speaking, not your best hitter, you have a deep lineup. Webb was still plenty amazing in 2021 — hitting .337 with a 1.077 OPS, 11 doubles, four triples and 15 home runs — but there was plenty more, with eight starters hitting above .300 this season. Josh Schumacher led the team with a .425 average, while Dusty Stroup slugged his way to the top of the conference leaderboard with a 1.325 OPS, 17 doubles, 19 home runs and a ridiculous .853 slugging percentage all while hitting .406.

UC Colorado Springs

Most of the teams you see on this list are no-brainers — the usual suspects if you would. Not the Mountain Lions, who not only won their first RMAC tournament title in 2021 but took down the mighty Colorado Mesa twice to do so. That was thanks to a loaded lineup.

The Mountain Lions are hitting .350 as a team with 117 doubles, 79 home runs, 407 runs scored and a .624 slugging percentage — all top-10 marks in DII baseball. Six regular starters are hitting over .300 with at least 10 doubles. Jake Anderson and Evan Richards have been sensational leading the way, combining for a .414 average, 35 doubles, 32 home runs and 113 RBIs, with Richards adding 14 stolen bases to his resume. This Mesa/UCCS rematch in Round 1 of the tournament could be a fireworks show.

Colorado Mesa

Did someone say Colorado Mesa? We’ve talked plenty about this offense all year. They lead DII in average at .378, doubles per game at 3.09, slugging percentage at .673 and are chasing the DII single-season record for runs scored in a season, sitting at 12.9 per game. Individually, there’s no rest for a pitcher. Haydn McGeary, our 2021 DII player of the year, is having a ridiculous season, but he is nowhere near alone. Tyler Parker and Matt Turner join McGeary as three Mavericks hitting north of .410. Turner also happens to lead DII in home runs with 22. Every regular starter is hitting above .310 and eight hitters have an OPS above 1.010. This team is deep and every one of them can do damage this postseason.

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Columbus State

The Cougars are scary for a few reasons. When Coach Greg Appleton gets Columbus State to the tournament, it typically finds another level. Secondly, they are scorching hot at the right time, and as we all know, this time of year it’s not always the best team, but the hottest that makes a run.

The Cougars had an up and down year but caught fire in the Peach Belt tournament. They took down two ranked teams in UNC Pembroke and North Georgia, winning all four of their games by scoring 61 runs over that span. Earlier this season, we told you Robert Brooks was a player to watch that could be an impact bat down the stretch, and he certainly delivered, finishing second in DII with 21 home runs. Brooks, Dane Bullock, Isaac Bouton and Steven Minter all have double digit home runs with slugging percentages north of .630. That’s a tough part of the lineup to pitch around, no matter how good a pitcher one may be.

Illinois Springfield

This Prairie Stars lineup was one of the best all season long. They finished second in batting average (.359), third in slugging percentage (.618), fifth in on-base percentage (.451) and fourth in scoring with 10.3 runs per game. And like many of the other lineups listed here, just about everyone can hit.

Zion Pettigrew is the unquestioned star. That’s not to take away from Kal Youngquist’s terrific season (.426, 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 58 RBI), but Pettigrew is simply on of the best in DII. He led the GLVC with a .450 average, 17 home runs and a .979 slugging percentage, which was also the top mark in DII. While Pettigrew has his eyes set on a DII championship, you’ll be able to see him will into June in the inaugural MLB Draft League in the State College Spikes lineup when his DII play concludes. 

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North Greenville

The Crusaders have been fueled by one of the scariest lineups in DII for several years, and this year may be their best yet. North Greenville enters the tournament a top-5 team in DII in batting average (.358), OBP (.456) and runs scored (10.8) while launching 78 home runs, tenth-best in the circuit. John Michael Faile, a perennial name on our player-of-the-year watchlists, once again led the way, hitting .438 with a 1.385 OPS, 21 home runs and 73 RBI, but every starter in the lineup hit at least .327. Gehrig Octavio won’t light up the scoreboard with homers, but he hit .441 to lead the Crusaders while adding 16 stolen bases. 

Keep an eye on:

  • Quincy: Who saw this coming? Well, we did calling the Hawks one of the biggest sleepers in 2021. They finished top 10 in DII in average and OBP.
  • Augustana (SD): No small ball for the Vikings this year: they have 69 home runs to go with 389 runs scored but also hit .328 with three players topping the 20 stolen base mark. They are causing havoc all over the place.
  • Davenport: Don’t worry about the overall numbers. After a five-game losing streak from April 23-May 1, the Panthers closed the season with 14-straight wins — including its first-ever GLIAC tourney — while scoring 10 runs a game over that span. Teams this hot are scary teams.
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