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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An 8-2 start for last year’s national runner-up Texas-Tyler keeps the Patriots firmly in the top spot in this week’s National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III Top 25, the first poll of the regular season.

After being the unanimous choice in the preseason ranking on Feb. 3, Texas-Tyler received seven of the eight first-place votes available. Second-ranked Christopher Newport earned the other first-place vote on the strength of a 6-0 start that catapulted the Captains 10 spots higher than they started.

Similarly solid starts moved new No. 3 Washington (4-0) University up five places and surged Emory (9-1) a poll-best 14 places, to a tie for No. 4 with three-time reigning national champion Tufts, which hasn’t opened its season yet.

Meanwhile, East Texas Baptist’s 7-3 start moved the Tigers down two spots to sixth, and NCAA Championship participants Salisbury (3-3) and Linfield (5-3) each fell nine spots, to 11th and 14th, respectively. The biggest drop, though, was by fellow NCAA finalist Alma (0-2), which fell 13 places to No. 24.

Strong starts had both No. 7 Virginia Wesleyan (5-1) and No. 8 Texas Lutheran (8-0) surge up the rankings, while Berry (10-1) went all the way from receiving votes to the No. 12 position.

Three new teams — Pacific Lutheran, St. Catherine (Minn.) and William Peace — garnered votes this week, while Oneonta and Trine fell off the list.

The NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll is selected by Division III head coaches representing the eight NCAA regions. Records through Sunday’s games are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses.

NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll – March 2, 2016

Rank Team 2016 Record Points Previous
1 Texas-Tyler (7) 8-2 199 1
2 Christopher Newport (1) 6-0 180 12
3 Washington (Mo.) 4-0 177 8
T4 Emory 9-1 162 18
  Tufts 0-0 162 6
6 East Texas Baptist 7-3 149 4
7 Virginia Wesleyan 5-1 142 14
8 Texas Lutheran 8-0 138 13
9 Luther 3-1 130 7
10 Alfred 0-0 129 10
11 Salisbury 3-3 119 2
12 Berry 10-1 116 RV
13 Illinois Wesleyan 0-0 100 T16
T14 Heidelberg 0-0 98 15
  Linfield 5-3 98 5
16 Kean 0-0 74 T16
17 Wheaton (Mass.) 0-0 66 19
18 Lake Forest 0-0 60 20
19 Rowan 2-4 43 9
20 Central (Iowa) 1-1 39 21
21 Moravian 0-0 29 22
22 Cortland 0-0 27 24
23 Wis.-Oshkosh 3-1 26 25
24 Alma 0-2 20 11
25 Gustavus Adolphus 2-0 19 RV

Others receiving votes: Bethel 14, DePauw 13, St. Catherine 8, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 4, William Peace 3, Wheaton (Ill.) 3, St. Thomas (Minn.) 2, Wis.-Eau Claire 2, Aurora 1 and Pacific Lutheran 1.

Dropped out: Oneonta and Trine.

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