AMERICUS -- GSW baseball coach Bryan McLain doesn't want his guys to get too caught up in the school's second Division II ranking in school history.
But even McLain can't deny one thing: It's pretty darn nice.
"The recognition is great because these guys have worked so hard this season," said McLain, whose Hurricanes debuted at No. 30 in the Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division II Coaches' Poll released Monday.
And the timing of the latest ranking couldn't be sweeter.
Tuesday marked exactly one year ago that the Hurricanes were considered one of the nation's Top 30 NCAA programs when it was ranked for the first time in school history.
"I talked to my guys (Tuesday morning) and told them that while it was an honor to be ranked, we needed to keep the ranking in perspective because just being ranked doesn't guarantee us anything," McLain said of the Hurricanes, who made the jump from being an NAIA program to Division II during the 2006-07 season. "But in terms of progressing from where we were five years ago, to where we are today, I now think you have to start talking about us as one of the teams in the mix to win a conference championship (and reach the national playoffs). That once may have been an outer-space thought, but now it's a realistic goal."
GSW (18-13 overall, 6-6 in Peach Belt play) has won four of its last five games and even had a nine-game win streak going at one point in the season. Much of the team's success can be attributed to solid defense and strong pitching. The Hurricanes rank third in fielding percentage (.970) in a talented PBC that has six teams in the Top 30 (No. 5 Georgia College, No. 8 Armstrong Atlantic, No. 12 UNC Pembroke, No. 16 Francis Marion, No. 26 Columbus State and No. 30 GSW) and second in double plays turned (31).
The Hurricanes will get a chance to improve their standing, as well as knock off a Top 5 team, when they play Georgia College this weekend. Georgia College leads the PBC West Division currently, while GSW and Columbus State are tied for second.
"I think we really concentrated on building on last year's success and we've put the work in and now here we are," said McLain, whose program came oh, so close to capturing the school's first PBC title -- in any sport -- last season when the Hurricanes reached the conference title series before falling just short. "But we've still got work to do. Only six teams from our region make (the national playoffs) and right now nine of the teams in our region are ranked in the Top 30 in the poll."
GSW is tied for second in fewest errors (36), while the pitching staff ranks fifth in fewest runs allowed (139) and sixth in opponent's batting average (.258).
Individually, Michel Coffey leads GSW hitters and ranks ninth in the conference in batting average (.373). John Duran is fifth in the PBC in runs scored (32). Trent Franzago ranks third in the PBC in opponent's batting average (.200) and ninth in strikeouts (43). Reliever Gray Carden, a former Lee County star, leads the PBC in appearances (17) and games finished (16).
GSW VS. ASU RESCHEDULED:
Today's game against Albany State was rescheduled Tuesday for April 19 due to expected heavy rains in the Americus area. The game on the 19th will start at 5 p.m.
GSW GOLF TEAM SHINES AT BEARCAT INVITATIONAL IN FIRST ROUND, FALTER IN SECOND ROUND:
The GSW golf team fired its lowest round in five years of NCAA play Monday, a 7-under 281, to grab a six-stroke lead after Day 1 at the Second Annual Lander Bearcat Golf Classic being held at the par-72, 6,800-yard Greenwood Country Club. But the Hurricanes faltered on Day 2, as they slipped down the leaderboard and finished eighth. Final scores were not available at press time.
Craig Gibson paced the 'Canes with the low score of the 90-player field, a 5-under 67 on Monday. GSW's Nate Gahman, a former Lee County star and Herald Player of the Year, and J.P. Griffin are tied for seventh place after firing 2-under par rounds of 70. John Wilson Gordon shot a 74 to tie for 36th overall and Reese Moseley added a 9-over 81.
Albany Herald sports editor Danny Aller and GSW sports information director Keith Michlig contributed to this report.