On first…

CNU Baseball and Softball earn simultaneous No. 1 rankings

The Captains are moving on up. Last week the updated Division III rankings came out for collegiate baseball and softball and they moved into the first place spot.

This is a huge honor for both teams and is well deserved as they are both sitting comfortably in the top spot in the CAC, and both teams have strong records with baseball having a record of 20-2 and 9-0 in CAC play and softball with a record of 18-2 and 2-0 in the CAC.

For the baseball team, this is the second time in program history that they achieved the top ranking in the nation and the team. The fact that this feat has been achieved before gave Coach John Harvell an interesting perspective on the accomplishment.

Harvell feels as though his team “Thinks it’s pretty cool to look at but ultimately it means nothing, and we know we now have a larger target on our back and that we have a lot of work left to do.”

Harvell and the baseball team here at CNU have some tough competition in the CAC with the Seagulls of Salisbury being ranked 18 in the nation. The Captains will have a battle in the top 25 of the nation for the CAC title this year if these rankings hold until the end of the season.

The main story for the team so far this season has been the offensive explosions they have had in certain games, with 16 of their wins coming off of 10 plus run games by the Captains.

It also helps that CNU Baseball boasts one of the best pitching core in DIII baseball with #16 Josh Husby headlining the rotation. The pitching staff has held their opponents to two or fewer runs in nine of their wins on the season.

The CNU Softball team has a different reason to be proud of this new ranking as it is the first time in program history that they have climbed to the top of the rankings.

Coach Keith Parr and his team made it to this point on the back of some solid performances so far this season including a win against fifth ranked Rowan University and a double header sweep against 13 in the nation University of Lynchburg. 

Parr is looking forward to the opportunity to continue the solid run all the way through the end of the season and take home the CAC championship with his team once again.

When asked for comment Parr showed his pride in his team while also explaining what an honor it is to be recognized at this level, “I feel it is a honor to be recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s (NFCA) top 25 coaches committee. There are eight coaches representing the eight regions nationally and I know that they do a wonderful job throughout the year ranking teams. Year after year we have one of the best softball programs in the nation and this year is no different.“

The Captains have been on a tear offensively this season and have managed to win 12 of their games by the mercy rule of having a lead of eight or more runs by the end of the fifth inning.

This is due to the stellar offensive performance the Captains core has put together. With players like #5 Grace Wild batting to an average of .509, #22 Patty Maye Ohanian batting an average of .492 and #27 Kaitlyn Hasty batting an average of .472 being your top hitters for contact it is hard not to win by eight or more runs.

This is compounded by the excellent pitching staff the team puts together with #6 Aubrey Bates, who recently won CAC pitcher of the week three times in a row, and #32 Emily Weatherholtz both having incredible starts to the season. All of this combined last week as the softball teams went on to split a series with the current number two ranked team Virginia Wesleyan proving that the Captains deserve to be fighting for the top spot with the other top ranked teams.

Parr went on to explain the hopes for the rest of the season, “The 2019 team has come together nicely and there is still great room for improvement as we move through the season. We are working to be sure we are in the same spot in the rankings after the end of May!”

Both teams are looking to show what they have in the CAC once again this year with the goal for both teams being another title. Softball has the easiest route to the CAC championship as they are the only team in the CAC to be ranked. Baseball does however have to beat Salisbury who are ranked in the top 20 and for the past few years have been competing with the Captains for dominance over the CAC.

For both teams going forward they will need to continue winning games and finish at the top of the CAC. Softball will then move onto the NCAA tournament whereas winning the CAC doesn’t guarantee baseball a birth in the Division III College World Series.

The baseball team will have to win the region as well to go on to the final tournament and have a chance at the title. If the Captains go all the way in either the NCAA or the College World Series it would be the first title taken home by either of the programs.

Baseball is back in action against Marymount University on April 3, and softball will play Randonlph-Macon College in double header action on April 3.

~Michael innacelli, Sports Editor & Managing CNUTV Editor~

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