The Pioneer softball team is ranked eighth in the first NCAA Division II West Region Ranking of the season. (Photo: John Hefti)
Following its third series win of the season in California Collegiate Athletic Association play last weekend, the Cal State East Bay softball team checked in at No. 8 in the first NCAA Division II West Region rankings released April 11. The Pioneers (27-20) joined five other CCAA teams in the rankings, which are used to help determine which teams will earn bids to the NCAA Division II Softball Championships.
CSUEB enters the final two weeks of the season as the No. 8 team in the regional ranking – a first for the Pioneers since returning to Division II – and locked in a tie with Sonoma State for fifth place in the league standings. The top four teams in the conference will earn trips to the 2012 CCAA Championships, set for April 27-29 in Stockton. Both Cal State Dominguez Hills and UC San Diego have already clinched berths in the conference tournament.
The Toros (38-9), ranked 10th in the national poll, claimed the top spot in the rankings, thanks in part to a 36-9 record against West Region teams so far. No. 8 Cal State Monterey Bay took the No. 2 ranking, while 19th-ranked Chico State and Dixie State followed in third and fourth, respectively. UC San Diego, the defending national champions and 23rd-ranked team, claimed the No. 5 spot in the regional ranking, while Sonoma State and Montana State-Billings were sixth and seventh, respectively. Grand Canyon and St. Martin’s rounded out the top 10 in the West Region.
In each of the last three seasons at least three CCAA teams have earned NCAA Tournament bids. The final NCAA West Region rankings will come out on April 29, with the top team from each region earning bids to the NCAA Softball Championships. The top two teams in each region are also the frontrunners to host the NCAA regional tournaments.
Cal State East Bay will look to improve its CCAA and NCAA Tournament chances this weekend, when it heads north to take on Humboldt State. The Pioneers and Jacks will open the four-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday, scheduled for a 12 p.m. start at McKinleyville High School, just north of Arcata.