Were the Arizona Wildcats ranked sixth in the nation? Or were they ninth? Or was the team that swept three from the Washington State Cougars last weekend 11th?
The Wildcats were all those things, depending on which college baseball poll from last week you wanted to use.
There are three baseball polls from Division I, each with a different constituency and each with a different agenda.
The Wildcats were ranked 11th last week by Collegiate Baseball, a weekly newspaper based in Tucson, Ariz., that started putting out a poll in 1957. It is ironic the Wildcats lowest ranking last week – they are sixth this week in the Collegiate Baseball poll – came from its hometown publication because the newspaper’s perceived Arizona and Arizona State bias during the late 1960s and early 1970s led, indirectly at least, to the next poll.
Baseball America started in the late 1970s in Bellingham, the brainchild of Allan Simpson, who has since moved the magazine’s headquarters to Durham, N.C. The publication, which also covers the minor leagues, has its poll, picked by staff members. The Wildcats were sixth last week – and this week as well – in Baseball America’s poll.
The American Baseball Coaches Association began working with USA Today in the 1990s to publicize its poll, voted upon by 40 college baseball coaches. Last week the Cats were ranked ninth, though they moved up to eighth this week.
So which poll is better?
Polls are polls, so better probably isn’t an issue. Luckily, like basketball and unlike football, Division I college baseball has a playoff, so the only poll that really matters is taken during June in Omaha, Neb.
Until then, however, sports information directors at the nation’s Division I schools can tout their team’s – or their team’s opponent’s – highest ranking.
By the way, there is a fourth poll available to SIDs. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association started a poll in 1997, and last week listed Arizona 12th.
Around the area
Gonzaga and Washington State will meet once more (the third of four scheduled non-conference games) today at Avista Stadium starting at 3 p.m. For the Cougars, who are still looking for the first Pac-10 win in the Donnie Marbut era, it is their only game of the week. The Pac-10 is actually the Pac-9 in baseball because Oregon doesn’t have a program, so one team has a bye each week. The Cougars’ coaching staff is using the weekend to put on high school coaches clinics in Battle Ground and Naches, Wash. … No matter what Arizona is ranked nationally, the Wildcats showed WSU why they are leading the Pac-10. They won each game in a different manner, getting a shutout on Friday, scoring in six innings for a hard-fought 7-4 win Saturday, then rallying from a five-run deficit to win Sunday. … The Cougars have three Zachs on their roster, and all three had hits Sunday. Co-captain Zach Franklin was 2 for 4 to raise his average to .425 in 40 at-bats. Starting third baseman Zach McAngus, who is hitting .319, also added a run while Zach Kosturos’ pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning upped his average to .287.
Gonzaga took two of three from the University of San Francisco last weekend, dropping the Dons three games behind Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference West Division. GU is still a game ahead of Loyola Marymount in the Coast Division going into the Zags’ three-game weekend series in Portland starting Friday. The University of Portland lost two of three to LMU last weekend and is last in the WCC in hitting (a team batting average of .255) and pitching (a team earned run average of 6.49). In contrast, GU has a team batting average of .299, led by Jeff Culpepper‘s .353, and, with Josh Monroe at 2.07, a team ERA of 3.69, both second-best in the WCC. … Brandon Harmon was the winning pitcher for GU Saturday and earned the save Sunday. The two appearances gave the Shadle Park High grad 13 appearances (a team high) with a 2-0 record and a 4.44 ERA. Culpepper made him a winner Saturday, scoring Scott Campbell with a one-out single to right in the bottom of the ninth.
Whitworth dropped two of three to visiting Willamette last weekend, but still remained a half-game ahead of the Bearcats for fifth in the Northwest Conference. The Pirates should pad that lead this weekend when they travel to Portland to face Lewis & Clark, which has lost 15 consecutive NWC games to open the season. … Trevor Sheffels has emerged as the Pirates closer, earning his second save of the year Sunday with two scoreless innings in relief of starter and winner Ben McCracken. McCracken yielded just two earned runs over seven innings and raised his record to 2-3.
The Community Colleges of Spokane had its first losing week of the season, culminated by a doubleheader sweep by Big Bend on Saturday. The Sasquatch, in third in the NWAACC East, hosts Yakima Valley College on Wednesday before traveling to Ontario, Ore., to face division-leading Treasure Valley (8-0) in a doubleheader Saturday.
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