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Cal Baptist Tops Final NAIA Poll

Cal BaptistKANSAS CITY, Mo. – No. 23 Simon Fraser (B.C.) and No. 25 Minot State (N.D.) both made a splash in the final regular-season edition of the 2011 NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The defending national champion Clan enjoys a national ranking for the first time since March 22, while Minot State is in the Top 25 for the first time this season. 

The official 32-team National Championship qualifiers will be announced Tuesday by 3 p.m. CDT. The National Championship pool play assignments and schedule will be announced Wednesday by 3 p.m. The 31st annual Softball National Championship will be played out at Gulf Shores, Ala., from May 19-25. 

No. 1-ranked California Baptist has a stranglehold on the top spot for the 24th-consecutive poll. The Lancers earned all 23 first-place votes and 653 total points. California Baptist is one of six teams to hold its position from last week. Two clubs slipped out, including Dickinson State (N.D.) at No. 24 and Oklahoma Baptist at No. 25. 

Winners of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) regular season and tournament championship, California Baptist will enter the National Championship in Gulf Shores, with an NAIA-best 59 wins. The Lancers are advancing to their eighth-straight national tournament and seek their second title in the last three years. Since the Lancers were ranked No. 1 starting on March 24, 2009, they hold a 154-10 (.939) overall record. 

Second-ranked Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) climbs up three spots, with 612 total points, after a TranSouth Athletic Conference (TSAC) regular season and tournament title last weekend. The Trojans will enter the National Championship on an 18-game winning streak and hold a 46-3 overall record. This ranking is the highest of 2011 for Trevecca Nazarene. 

Holding at No. 3 with 609 total points is William Carey (Miss.). In the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, the Lady Crusaders lost 4-3 to then-No. 16 Shorter (Ga.) in the second day of action. William Carey will gear up for its fourth-straight National Championship with a 50-6 overall record. 

No. 4 California State-San Marcos fell two slots and totaled 590 points. The Cougars were the No. 1 seed in the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) tournament, but lost to then-No. 9 Houston-Victoria (Texas), 2-1, in 13 innings in the semifinals on May 6. California State-San Marcos, who is 40-9 overall, has been ranked in the top 10 in all nine polls this year. 

Sliding down one spot is No. 5 Central Baptist (Ark.) with 555 total points. The Mustangs are one of four teams in the NAIA with 50 or more wins. Central Baptist placed second in the AII Tournament, losing to Simon Fraser, 5-3, in the title game on May 7. 

Thirteen conferences / independent / unaffiliated groupings are represented in the poll. The SSAC continues to dominate with the most ranked clubs with five: William Carey, No. 6 Belhaven (Miss.), No. 10 Brenau (Ga.), No. 15 Shorter (Ga.) and No. 21 Mobile (Ala.). The AII claims four teams: California State-San Marcos, Central Baptist, No. 11 Houston-Victoria and Simon Fraser. The GSAC is represented by three teams in the Top 25. 

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences /independent /unaffiliated groupings. 

To view the entire poll, click here

- Courtesy of the NAIA