The 24-17 Husson University baseball team will face eighth-ranked Wheaton College in the 10:30 a.m. opener on Friday at the NCAA Division III baseball regional, which will be held at Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut.
Mitchell, 31-8, will take on Tufts, 31-9, at 1:30 Friday in the double-elimination affair.
Husson went 1-2 in the regional held in Glenside, Pennsylvania, a year ago, losing to host and No. 5-ranked Arcadia 10-5, beating Elizabethtown 13-12 and losing to No. 16 SUNY Oswego 12-10.
“The one thing I have learned is the teams that make the fewest mistakes in the regionals have the best chance to win,” said Husson head coach Chris Morris, who pointed out that it was his team that made the fewest mistakes in the North Atlantic Conference tournament and enabled his Eagles to win and earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals.
He said the experience his team gained in previous regionals and the team’s challenging non-conference schedule will serve his players well.
“They know what to expect and what the pressure is like,” he said.
In addition to limiting their mistakes, he said the other key will be their ability to get clutch two-out hits to deliver runs and extend innings.
He said Tufts, Wheaton and Mitchell are all top-quality programs so “we’re going to have to play our best baseball.”
The Eagles had three players chosen to the All-North Atlantic Conference East Division team recently, including freshman right fielder Hunter Curtis, who was named the Rookie of the Year, along with sophomore pitchers Matt Wallingford from Greene and Connor Abood from Sandown, New Hampshire.
Husson exhibited its depth in the NAC Tournament because four different Eagles were chosen to the all-tourney team in first baseman Jackson Curtis — Hunter’s brother — second baseman Keegan Cyr, shortstop Kobe Rogerson and reliever Ryan Robb.
Cyr was the Most Valuable Player.
Wheaton, like Husson, lost the second game of their conference tournament but won the next three games to capture the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference title.
The Lyons have the conference Baseball Athlete of the Year in shortstop Cavan Brady and Pitcher of the Year Ryan McCarroll.
Wheaton had four conference first teamers and four second-teamers and coach Eric Podbelski and his staff was named the league’s staff of the year.
Mitchell left fielder Dougie DelaCruz was the New England Collegiate Conference Player of the Year and one of seven Mitchell players on the all-conference team.
Tufts has been led by second baseman Jesse McCullough, right fielder Jimmy Evans and pitcher Silas Reed.