KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Lee baseball team opens the 2013 season Feb. 1 against the University of Northwestern Ohio, coach Mark Brew’s club will be listed as the No. 3 team in the NAIA poll.
“I think this is a solid starting spot for us,” said Brew after viewing the poll. “It is a direct reflection of the consistency of our program over the past years. One of the most amazing numbers to me is that we have appeared in 63 consecutive polls dating back to March of 2006.”
Maintaining the consistent play from February till the end of May has always been the trademark of a Brew-coached team. “To sustain that level over the course of the years is a tribute to the players that have come through our program,” Brew added. “We are excited about the upcoming season and are confident we have a team that can compete on a very high level in 2013.”
As usual, there are many roadblocks standing in the way of the Flames. Defending national champion Tennessee Wesleyan tops the 2012-13 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. The Bulldogs and Flames split four games last season, but TWC got hot at the right time, outscoring its opponents 68-32 over six games en route to the program’s first-ever Avista-NAIA World Series title.
LSU Shreveport (La.), which reached the semifinals of the NAIA World Series last season before falling to Tennessee Wesleyan, jumped one position from the 2012 postseason poll to No. 2 with 501 points.
Third-ranked Lee tallied the two remaining first-place votes and 493 points, while No. 4 Oklahoma City and No. 5 Rogers State (Okla.) garnered 486 points and 454 points, respectively, to round out the top five. It’s just the second-ever top-five mention for Rogers State. The ninth-seeded Hillcats played Cinderella at last year’s national championship by unexpectedly reaching the title game.
Five newcomers join the ranks: No. 17 Bellevue (Neb.), No. 19 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 22 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), No. 23 Doane (Neb.) and No. 24 Madonna (Mich.). Of the quintet, only St. Francis and Doane were not ranked last season.