An 18 year absence from the NCAA tournament was snapped Sunday when the West Georgia Wolves baseball team was selected as the 6th seed in the South Regional of this year’s tournament.
The last time UWG achieved this goal was in 1998 when they won the Gulf South Conference and went on to win the regional. This was the only College World Series appearance in school history.
The Wolves amassed 39 wins this year, 37 of them coming in the regular season. They went on a streak late, winning 21 of their final 24 games to close out the regular season.
56 teams made the tournament from 8 different regions: South Central, West, Atlantic, East, South, Southeast, Central, and Midwest. The South Central and West Regions only have 1 through 6 seeds, while the Central and Midwest Regions have 1 through 8 seeds. The remaining four have 1 through 7 seeds.
Three teams from the Gulf South Conference made the south regional this year: #2 West Florida, #4 Delta State, and #6 West Georgia. Delta State won the GSC tournament, defeating UWG in the semi-finals, 11-1.
South Regional Seeds/Matchups
*#1 Tampa (41-8) BYE
#2 West Florida (33-15) vs #7 Claflin (20-27)
#3 Nova Southeastern (34-14) vs #6 West Georgia (39-14)
#4 Delta State (35-15) vs #5 Lynn (27-20)
If West Georgia beats Nova Southeastern in the first round, they will move on to face the winner of West Florida and Claflin. If they lose first round, they will face the loser of West Florida and Claflin. The tournament is double elimination.
West Georgia has already played Delta State and West Florida multiple times this year. UWG defeated DSU twice in the regular season and lost once. In the Conference tournament, DSU handed UWG two more losses. So, UWG has won 2 of the 5 games against DSU this year. UWG beat West Florida in 1 of the 3 regular season games, and beat them again in the conference tournament to bring the overall series record to 2-2 in 2016.
If you look at this season in terms of overall record, UWG should be the #2 seed in their south regional. This is the case across the whole tournament. West Georgia has the same or more wins than 3 of the 8 #1 seeds, 6 of the 8 #2 seeds, and every single one of the #3 seeds. The only possible explanation I have for this is the fact that they didn’t win their conference tournament.
The two teams that finished ahead of UWG in the conference tournament are the #2 and #4 seeds in the South Regional. So, the committee really must have looked at Conference tournament results when determining seeds. This brings me to another point though, if conference tournament results are so important, why did Delta State get the 4 seed and West Florida get the 2 seed?
Delta State ended up winning the Gulf South Tournament and West Florida got second (UWG third), Delta State also had more wins and a better winning % than UWF on the year. Yet, somehow they got the 4 seed and UWF the 2 seed? Unless I am completely missing something here, the selection committee really botched this regional. I guess that’s what UWG gets for playing in a conference that lands 3 of the 7 available spots in the regional.
Preview of Nova Southeastern
Nova Southeastern finished the year with a 34-14 record and a 2nd place finish in the Sunshine State Conference. This is their fourth appearance in the South Regional in the past six years. Like the Wolves, the Sharks have been impressive later on in the year as they have won 24 of their last 29 games.
Nova Southeastern is ranked #17 in the latest NCBWA Poll. The Wolves are currently unranked.
The Sharks and Wolves have one common opponent on the year, Alabama-Huntsville. UWG played UAH 3 times this year. They lost the first game 6-4, won the second game 11-2, and lost the third game 14-6. This was very early in the season as these were the 11th, 12th, and 13th games of the year.
The Sharks played UAH in back-to-back double-headers in the regular season. On February 5th, Nova Southeastern defeated Alabama-Huntsville 11-8 and 4-2. The next day, they beat them in game one 7-4, but UAH defeated the Sharks in game two, 10-5.
Nova Southeastern has played a rough schedule this year as their conference also landed three teams in the South Regional: #1 Tampa and #5 Lynn. They played Division 1 Miami earlier in the year too, a team that only has 10 losses on the year while playing in a tough ACC. They lost this game, 8-3. However, they looked strong against a Miami team that was #1 in the nation at the time.
The pitching staff is headlined by Alex Mateo, who is 7-4 on the year with a 3.18 ERA. His fastball ranges from 89-91 mph and his changeup is his best off-speed pitch. His teammate Brandon Gomez is hitting .345 with 13 doubles, three triples, 19 homeruns, and 68 RBI’s.
The game is this Thursday at 7PM in Tampa, Florida. If UWG wins, they will play Friday at 7PM. If they lose, they will play Friday at 11 AM.
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A full, 56 team 2016 NCAA Bracket can be found by clicking this link.
Follow me on twitter- @Brandonwright84 for updates during the NCAA tournament.
Good luck to the Wolves!