LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Texas-Tyler left no doubt which team is the undisputed No. 1 team in the country over the weekend, rolling to the gold bracket championship at the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic to extend its reign in the NFCA Division III Top 25 poll to a fourth week.
The (17-2) Patriots made an impressive 6-0 run through a 24-team field at the South Commons Complex in Columbus, Ga., which contained 12 teams ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes. Tyler beat Berry twice and Illinois Wesleyan, Oneonta, Christopher Newport and Trine each once, scoring 41 runs while allowing none.
Both of Tyler’s two losses this season were to Belhaven (11-5), which will soon join the Patriots in the American Southwest Conference and is in its first season transitioning to Division III from NAIA.
Following a 10-0 week that clinched its seventh straight University Athletic Association title, Emory (21-1) moves up two places into the No. 2 spot. The Eagles have won 12 straight, with the only blemish a 7-6 loss to Salisbury on Feb. 28, which snapped a 9-0 start to the season.
Christopher Newport (14-1) remains third after going 4-1 at the Leadoff and suffering its first loss of the season against top-ranked Tyler, and Texas Lutheran (16-1) went from sixth to No. 4 after a 4-1 Leadoff, which included a loss to Trine in the gold bracket semifinals.
Three-time defending national champion Tufts remains fifth, as the wait continues for its 2016 debut. The Jumbos finally open on Saturday with the first two of its 14 games slated for The Spring Games in Clermont, Fla.
The top five teams in the poll this week were unanimous choices in that order by the NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll Committee.
Solid showings at the Leadoff propelled No. 13 Trine (9-5), No. 17 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-5-1) and No. 22 Birmingham-Southern (14-4) into the rankings. The gold bracket runner-up Thunder were 5-1, while both the Athenas and Panthers went 4-2 at the event.
Linfield (11-6) won three of its five games at the Leadoff and swept a doubleheader from Trine at South Commons the day before the tournament to move up seven places to No. 16, while a 6-4 week at the UAA Championship tournament dropped Washington University (14-4) all the way from second to a tie with Berry (17-4) for ninth.
Coe (12-2) and No. 25 Messiah (9-2) received votes for the first time this season, while Kean, Ramapo, St. Catherine and Wheaton (Ill.) all fell out of the rankings.
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 16, 2016
|6||East Texas Baptist||15-4||151||7|
|12||St. John Fisher||9-1||102||15|
Others receiving votes: Rowan 22, Wis.-Oshkosh 20, Wheaton (Mass.) 15, St. Thomas (Minn.) 8, Simpson 7, Coe 3, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 3, Alfred 2 and Wis.-Eau Claire 1.
Dropped out: Kean, Ramapo, St. Catherine and Wheaton (Ill.).