Senior catcher Tyler Parke freely offers to share a scouting report on the Husson University baseball team as it prepares to make its second straight appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
Coach Chris Morris’ club, 24-15, will play 10th-ranked Arcadia (38-7) at 10 a.m. Friday in one of two first-round games. Pairings and locations for the 60-team tournament were announced during a selection show Monday.
“We play with a lot of toughness, we’re not there to mess around,” said Parke, a Bangor High School product in his second year back in his hometown after spending his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Southern Maine.
“We’re not there to feed you fastballs down the middle. We’re not there to roll over at the plate. We’re there to play. I hope teams see that, but should they underestimate us and throw out who knows who and think they’re going to be playing for the game after us, then they’re going to be in for a treat.”
Such a biography may not determine when an opponent should try to steal bases or throw a 3-2 breaking pitch against the Eagles, but it is an accurate representation of the progress made by the team since opening its season with a vigorous nonconference schedule that left the Eagles a sub .500 team entering the bulk of its North Atlantic Conference schedule.
Husson then closed out its regular-season slate by sweeping six consecutive NAC doubleheaders, then added three more wins without a loss to capture the conference title and its automatic NCAA tourney berth.
“That was our plan, to play these really good teams out of conference and compete well in those games, and then we knew that once we get into conference we’re going to be ready for those games and compete at a high level,” Husson senior shortstop Kobe Rogerson of Brewer said.
“Obviously there are a lot of great teams that made it to this point so whoever we play is going to be great competition, and we’re just looking forward to it.”
Husson will be the only representative from Maine in the 60-team NCAA Division III baseball field, and its four-team regional features two ranked opponents in Arcadia and No. 11 SUNY-Oswego, which received an at-large bid representing the State University of New York Athletic Conference.
Elizabethtown (Pennsylvania) College, champion of the Landmark Conference, rounds out this year’s four-team field, with the Blue Jays facing SUNY-Oswego at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
No game time for the Husson-Arcadia matchup was immediately available Monday afternoon.
While Husson has not played Arcadia before, it has a very recent tournament experience against SUNY-Oswego, having lost to the Lakers 17-6 in the opening round of the 2021 regional tournament held in Hartford, Connecticut.
SUNY-Oswego scored 13 runs in its first three at-bats in that contest, and Husson went on to lose to the Lakers and then to Johnson & Wales (Rhode Island) 8-5 in its second game.
“From last year I think we learned what we have to do down there and that’s just to play the same game we’ve been playing here for the last 2 ½ months,” said Morris, Husson’s third-year head coach. “We don’t have to change ourselves, we don’t have to make it bigger than it is. Let’s just go play some Husson baseball, relax and play the game and let the dominoes fall where they fall.”
Husson has relied heavily on a deep pitching staff led by senior lefthander Cam Graham (5-3) and junior righthander Harrison Lendrum (4-0).
The Eagles have been aided during their recent surge by their offense, which during their current win streak has raised their team batting average from .237 to .300.
That offense has been led by Parke (.396 batting average with two home runs and 24 RBIs), Rogerson (.336 with two home runs, 16 RBIS and 15 stolen bases), freshman third baseman Tanner Evans of Greenbush and Old Town High School (.342, 35 RBIs), sophomore first baseman Jackson Curtis of Ellsworth (.305, six home runs, 37 RBIs) and junior outfielder Joshua Scott (.296, seven home runs, 37 RBIs).
“Last year we got there and played good baseball but not what we could have played. To get a win this year would just prove that all the work we’ve put in has led to something and that we have made a step in the right direction,” Parke said.
“Whether it’s a baby step or whether it’s a big leap or a massive jump, who knows? But just to see a little more than we did last year is a goal.”