FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University moved up seven spots to No. 17 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s NCAA Division II Top 30 poll, released on Monday.
The Patriots, 11-3 and winners of their last nine contests, face an interesting week that will pit FMU against nationally ranked opponents in five consecutive road games.
Francis Marion will play a doubleheader at seventh-ranked Mount Olive College (13-2) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Patriots will then open their Peach Belt Conference schedule with a three-game series at 16th-ranked USC Aiken (11-2) this coming weekend. The series will start with a single game on Saturday at 3 p.m. and conclude with a doubleheader on Sunday at 1 p.m.
This week’s ranking means the Patriots have appeared in 97 of the past 105 national polls dating back to the 2005 season. Francis Marion was ranked 15th in the 2011 pre-season poll, dropped out of the first two rankings, but returned last week at No. 24.
Fellow PBC member Georgia College (13-2) takes over the No. 1 spot in this week’s poll, and altogether seven Peach Belt squads are ranked among the Top 30 programs.
FMU’s next home game will be on March 9 – a doubleheader against Clarion University.
Freshman third baseman Michael Wilson, a Florence native and a second generation Patriot – his father was a Patriot infielder from 1976 to 1979, leads the Patriots with a .500 average and 20 runs scored in 14 games. Senior first baseman Preston Shuey, who recently broke the school record for career RBIs, is batting .373 with three homers and 21 runs batted in.
The Patriot pitching staff has allowed only two earned runs over the past 50 innings and has a season ERA of 1.44 with 112 strikeouts in 119 innings.