Setting The Series At D-II, D-III and NAIA

Three College World Series start this weekend, beginning Friday at 11 a.m. in Appleton, Wis., where the Division III World Series is being held. The NAIA World Series will begin later in the day in Lewiston, Idaho, and Division II starts Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cary, N.C.

The Division II Series headliner is Mount Olive (N.C.) righthander Carter Capps, the top small college prospect in this year’s draft. Capps was picked as preseason Pitcher of the Year and followed that up by remaining undefeated in his career with a 14-0, 1.37 mark. He has struck out 124 batters in 111 innings. Capps broke the Division II record for consecutive victories, extending his career winning streak to 24 games. Mount Olive is chasing its second national championship in four years and will likely be the fan favorite in Cary. Mount Olive, the official host school, is located about an hour and a half from Cary.

Central Missouri is the only team making a return trip to the World Series this year. The Muleriders won one game before getting eliminated last year. Also making the trip to Cary are top-ranked Grand Valley (Mich.) State, West Florida, Sonoma (Calif.) State, Millersville (Pa.) and Winona (Minn.) State.

Marietta (Ohio) will be the favorite to win the Division III World Series and will open the tournament Friday afternoon. The 42-3 Pioneers are on a 17-game winning streak. Marietta last lost against Heidelberg in the second game of an April 17 doubleheader. Marietta paid Heidelberg back in the postseason, winning all four meetings, first in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament and then in the Mideast Regional. Kean (N.J.) righthander Mike Russo was rated as the best prospect in Division III before the season, and will be the top MLB draft prospect in the D-III Series. Russo has been dominant this season, going 10-1, 1.43. Opponents have hit just .184 off him.

Joining Marietta and Kean in Appleton will be Chapman (Calif.), Salisbury (Md.), Wisconsin-Whitewater, Buena Vista (Iowa), Western New England and Keystone (Pa.).

For more on favorite Grand Valley State and Marietta, see our final Weekend Preview of the regular season.

The NAIA World Series features three preseason top five teams, the preseason Player of the Year and the top NAIA draft prospect. Lee (Tenn.), Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State and Oklahoma City were ranked No. 3-5 in the preseason, and have all found their way to the World Series.

Lee returns to Lewiston this year hoping for a better result than last year. It lost the title game to in-state rival Cumberland 4-3 last year. This year, Lee is led by senior first baseman Michael Brown (.376/.473/.574, 7 HR, 12 SB) and ace Shay Crawford (10-2, 1.26, 86 IP/111 SO). Crawford transferred in from Alabama-Birmingham and fronted a pitching staff that posted a 2.75 ERA. Also making the trip to Lewiston are Conordia (Calif.), Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Faulkner (Ala.), LSU-Shreveport, Lubbock Christian, Oklahoma Baptist and Tennessee Wesleyan.

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