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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Unbeaten Salisbury has taken over the top spot in the NFCA Division III Top 25 Coaches Poll.

The (14-0) Sea Gulls have four victories over ranked teams so far this season, beating No. 6 Virginia Wesleyan and 12th-ranked Pfeiffer twice each earlier this month, to help make them the unanimous choice of voters. They have outscored their opponents 112-26 and boast a team ERA of 1.37.

Salisbury takes the No. 1 position from reigning national champion Christopher Newport (6-2), which had held the top spot for the past 10 weeks, including the last nine weeks of the 2022 season. The Captains fall to second in the rankings, just ahead of Trine (10-2), which Christopher Newport defeated 7-5 at home on Saturday in a rematch of the top two finishers from last year’s NCAA tournament.

Texas Lutheran (13-2) and Berry (14-3) round out the first five, with perennial power Virginia Wesleyan (7-3) looming at No. 6 and unbeaten Case Western Reserve (8-0), which earned head coach Josie Henry her 300th win on Monday, in seventh, just ahead of one-loss East Texas Baptist (10-1). Bethel (6-2) and Randolph-Macon (5-3) complete the top 10.

After Linfield (8-2) at No. 11, three poll newcomers who are off to a solid start against top competition — Pfeiffer (10-8), Transylvania (9-3) and Saint Benedict (9-1) — are next, followed by No. 15 Tufts, which is the only ranked team yet to start its season.

Four-time national champion Central (9-1) is back in the poll for the first time since March 17, 2021. The Dutch earned NFCA Hall of Famer George Wares his Division III-best 1,200th career win in their season opener against Webster on Feb. 25. A 5-4, eight-inning loss to DePauw later that same day remains the lone blemish on Central’s record so far this season. Like Salisbury, the Dutch combine a prolific offense (56-run scoring margin) with a stellar pitching staff (0.72 ERA).

No. 24 Hardin-Simmons (16-2), which split a doubleheader with No. 4 Texas Lutheran on Feb. 24 and lost by one against St. John Fisher last Wednesday, is the other newcomer in the Top 25 this week.

The NFCA Division III Top 25 Coaches Poll is selected by 10 NCAA Division III head coaches representing the 10 NCAA regions. Current 2023 records are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses. Weekly polls continue through May 16. A final poll will be released on June 13 following completion of the national championship.

NFCA Division III Top 25 Softball Coaches Poll – March 14, 2023

Rank

Team

Points

2023 Record

Previous

1

Salisbury (10)

250

14-0

3

2

Christopher Newport

240

6-2

1

3

Trine

230

10-2

2

4

Texas Lutheran

220

13-2

4

5

Berry

210

14-3

5

6

Virginia Wesleyan

200

7-3

7

7

Case Western Reserve

190

8-0

11

8

East Texas Baptist

180

10-1

13

9

Bethel

170

6-2

9

10

Randolph-Macon

160

5-3

10

11

Linfield

150

8-2

12

12

Pfeiffer

140

10-8

NR

13

Transylvania

130

9-3

NR

14

Saint Benedict (Minn.)

120

9-1

NR

15

Tufts

110

0-0

15

16

Concordia (Wis.)

100

6-0

16

17

Eastern Connecticut State

90

2-2

17

18

Rowan

80

9-1

24

19

Belhaven

70

7-8

6

20

Millikin

60

4-4

8

21

Birmingham-Southern

43

14-5

19

22

Piedmont

30

11-5

25

23

Central (Iowa)

19

9-1

NR

24

Hardin-Simmons

17

16-2

NR

25

WashU

11

4-4

23

Others receiving votes: Lynchburg 9, Coe 6, Hiram 6, Rochester 4, Luther 3 and Babson 2.

Dropped out: Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mount St. Joseph, Wartburg, Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

2023 NFCA Division III Top 25 Committee

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

 

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