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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — National champion Trine is the unanimous choice as the top-ranked team in the final NFCA Division III Top 25 Coaches Poll of the 2023 season.

The (46-6) Thunder captured their first Division III softball championship last Wednesday at East Texas Baptist’s Bell Park at Taylor Field. Trine defeated Salisbury (49-6) — which had been the nation’s No. 1 team for the past 10 rankings — twice on the final day, including 1-0 in the finale of the best-of-three NCAA championship series.

After Salisbury (49-6) won the first game of the series, 4-2 on Tuesday, on Abby Mace’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, Anna Koeppl shut down the Sea Gulls for the majority of game two, taking a perfect game into the sixth. Alexis Michon came on in the seventh to get the final two outs, then tossed a two-hit shutout in game three, outdueling Salisbury ace Lindsey Windsor.

The lone run came on Carolyn Biel’s two-out single to left, which scored Emma Beyer in the bottom of the seventh. Beyer had opened the frame with a single and was sacrificed to second by Scarlett Elliott. This was just the second championship for a Trine team since the Thunder joined the NCAA in 2004.

Like Trine, the top-seeded Sea Gulls played elimination games all week after dropping their finals opener, 4-1, to Moravian. With no margin for error, Salisbury won four games in three days — including beating No. 3-ranked Berry twice last Sunday to reach the championship series.

Salisbury set a program record for wins in a season and reached the national finals for the 11th time, finishing runner-up for the fourth time. The Sea Gulls were ranked first nationally every week of the regular season, after taking over for preseason No. 1 Christopher Newport.

Meanwhile, the eight NCAA finalists all finished ranked in the top eight. Third-place finishers Berry (43-7) and Coe (39-11) are third and fourth, respectively, while fifth-place finishers Rowan (42-10) and Moravian (38-12) are Nos. 5 and 6. Linfield (46-6) and last year’s national champion Christopher Newport (31-13) ranked seventh and eighth after tying for seventh at the finals site.

The other eight teams that reached the Super Regional round find themselves somewhere in the final 17 positions, including Virginia Wesleyan (39-13) and Randolph-Macon (43-11) to round out the top 10. Bethel (36-5) and Concordia Wisconsin (40-5) are 11th and 12th, while Belhaven (32-13) moved into the final top 15 from the receiving votes category.

MIT (36-8) is ranked 18th, and No. 20 Lebanon Valley (36-12) and No. 21 Hiram (27-16), like Moravian, weren’t ranked heading into NCAA play, but made the final poll lineup.

The NFCA Division III Top 25 Coaches Poll is selected by 10 NCAA Division III head coaches representing the 10 NCAA regions. Final 2023 records are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses. 

NFCA Division III Top 25 Softball Coaches Poll – June 13, 2023

Rank

Team

Points

2023 Record

Previous

1

Trine (10)

250

46-6

5

2

Salisbury

240

49-6

1

3

Berry

230

43-7

2

4

Coe

220

39-11

21

5

Rowan

210

42-10

20

6

Moravian

200

38-12

NR

7

Linfield

190

46-6

4

8

Christopher Newport

180

31-13

10

9

Virginia Wesleyan

162

39-13

13

10

Randolph-Macon

156

43-11

9

11

Bethel

144

36-5

11

12

Concordia (Wis.)

118

40-5

14

13

Case Western Reserve

113

38-5

3

14

Texas Lutheran

109

40-8

8

15

Belhaven

105

32-13

RV

16

East Texas Baptist

100

39-7

6

17

Tufts

97

40-6

7

18

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

91

36-8

16

19

Rochester

68

38-9

15

20

Lebanon Valley

56

36-12

NR

21

Hiram

51

27-16

NR

22

Mary Hardin-Baylor

47

35-14

19

23

Central (Iowa)

32

33-11

22

24

The College of New Jersey

26

32-11

18

25

Transylvania

24

34-11

17

Others receiving votes: Birmingham-Southern 18, Millikin 4, Wisconsin-Whitewater 4, Eastern Connecticut State 3, Luther 1, Pfeiffer 1.

Dropped out: Calvin, Mount Union, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Roanoke, Saint Benedict (Minn.) and St. Thomas (Texas).

2023 NFCA Division III Top 25 Committee

Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded All-Region and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and a National Convention.

Learn more about the NFCA and consider joining nearly 6,700 coaches today at NFCA.orgNFCA.org.

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