Tuesday’s rankings were nice, but Wednesday’s are more important, and all focus is on Friday.
The Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team moved up one spot to No. 11 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II poll Tuesday. But the South Central Region rankings will be released for the first time this season Wednesday, and those rankings have national tournament implications. The regional poll will come out once a week through the end of conference tournaments, and the top eight teams in the region will make the NCAA Tournament, with the top seed hosting games.
While rankings are fun to talk about, the Skyhawks (22-3, 17-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) haven’t focused one bit on the national attention. None of that will matter Friday when FLC hosts No. 22 Colorado School of Mines (20-4, 15-3 RMAC) in the biggest conference game of the season. The entire South Central Region will have eyes on that game, with the winner taking an advantage in the conference standings and solidifying their place ahead of the loser in the regional rankings.
Despite FLC being ranked higher and leading the conference standings along with three consecutive Skyhawk wins against the Orediggers, many expect to see Colorado Mines ranked ahead of FLC in the regional rankings. No. 9 Tarleton State (22-3, 13-2 Lone Star Conference) is expected to be the top team in the region in the initial release.
The RMAC coaches selected the Orediggers ahead of the defending regular season and RMAC Shootout champion Skyhawks in the preseason poll. It’s all part of the storyline that plays into an epic clash of the conference’s titans at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Bob Hofman Court at Whalen Gymnasium in Durango.
Since falling out of the NABC poll for one week on Jan. 10, FLC has spent five consecutive weeks in the top 25, climbing each week. Colorado Mines entered the poll last week at No. 25.
SoftballFive games in three days at the West Texas Invitational gave Fort Lewis’ Gianna Melaragno a chance to showcase her offensive capabilities.
The sophomore second baseman went 8-for-16 at the plate and scored 10 runs and drove in three more. Of her eight hits, four went for extra bases, with a pair of triples and two doubles. That gave her a healthy .875 slugging percentage.
Melaragno, who is from Loveland, started 46 games last season and finished with a .291 batting average with 23 runs, 14 runs batted in, nine doubles and one triple. She has already doubled her triples mark from 2016 and appears poised to have a productive season hitting in the second spot in the Skyhawks’ batting order.
FLC went 1-4 against tough competition last weekend in Texas. This week, FLC will play another five games in three days at the Cactus Classic in Tucson, Arizona.