Calling it fast is an
understatement.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Reigning national champion Virginia Wesleyan starts the season right where it left off, as the No. 1 team in the NFCA Division III Top 25 softball rankings.

The Marlins set a Division III record for wins in a season in 2017, going 54-3 en route to their first NCAA Division III crown. Virginia Wesleyan claimed the title with a sweep of St. John Fisher in the best-of-three NCAA Championship Series on May 29 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, after two straight wins the previous day over defending national champ Texas-Tyler.

The national runner-up Cardinals continue in the No. 2 slot in a slightly shuffled top eight composed of the same eight teams from last year’s final poll. Texas-Tyler, which finished tied with St. John Fisher in that ranking, starts 2018 third, while Williams and Illinois Wesleyan, who also advanced to the NCAA Championship site, are fourth and fifth, respectively. Only three points separate places three through five.

Trine, meanwhile, jumps ahead of Amherst and St. Catherine from that final poll, to the No. 6 spot, while Luther and Texas Lutheran round out the top 10.

Two teams receiving votes — No. 19 Berry and Whitworth — have already started their seasons. Berry (2-0) swept Covenant with a pair of run-rule wins on Tuesday, while Whitworth (3-3) split its first three doubleheaders on a three-day road trip at the end of January.

In all, 22 of the teams starting the year in the Top 25 were ranked, with two of the other three — No. 18 Moravian and No. 19 Ithaca — receiving votes in the final 2017 poll. Only No. 17 Washington (Mo.) did not receive votes in that final ranking.

Eighteen of the 34 teams that received votes in this first poll — including NCAA Championship finalists Virginia Wesleyan and St. John Fisher — will compete in the 32-team NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic on March 2-4 in Tucson, Ariz.

The NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll is selected by eight NCAA Division III head coaches representing the eight NCAA regions. Final 2017 records are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses.

NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll – Feb. 7, 2018

Rank

Team

2017 Record

Points

1

Virginia Wesleyan (8)

54-3

200

2

St. John Fisher

44-8

192

3

Texas-Tyler

46-6

173

4

Williams

38-13

172

5

Illinois Wesleyan

37-15

171

6

Trine

37-10

159

7

Amherst

34-12

147

8

St. Catherine

38-14

144

9

Luther

41-5

129

10

Texas Lutheran

38-6

126

11

Wisconsin-Whitewater

37-9

102

12

Texas-Dallas

36-10

92

13

Transylvania

35-13

90

T14

Christopher Newport

34-10

81

 

Ramapo

32-11

81

16

East Texas Baptist

38-11

77

17

Washington (Mo.)

27-14

65

18

Moravian

36-6

60

19

Berry

40-4

42

20

Ithaca

33-12

40

21

Kean

36-10

37

22

Central (Iowa)

32-10

34

23

Wisconsin-Oshkosh

33-13

33

24

Cortland

33-15

32

25

Babson

33-16

28

Others receiving votes: Randolph-Macon 22, Messiah 21, Whitworth 18, Hope 7, Otterbein 7, St. Thomas (Minn.) 7, Linfield 6, Rowan 3 and Alma 2.

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