Baseball ranked top in West Region

Camille Botello, Staff Writer

The Linfield baseball team is alive and well after its NWC Tournament championship last Sunday and is looking to the NCAA Regional Tournament. With the championship, Linfield is the projected No. 1 seed, per the NCAA regional rankings listed on their website.

If the regional were today, Linfield’s opponents likely would be Cal Lutheran, Texas- Tyler, Centenary (Louisiana), Concordia University Texas, Texas-Dallas, Chapman, and Willamette.

California Lutheran University, of Thousand Oaks, California, trails the ‘Cats at the perverbial second seed for the regional tournament. The Kingsmen are 28-10 overall, with a .310 batting average and 14 season home runs.

“After starting this season 7-6 with five early losses in conference play, the Kingsmen caught fire and proceeded to win 15 in a row, including 12 straight conference games to reclaim its familiar spot atop the SCIAC standings,” the CLU men’s baseball website stated.

At third seed would stand the University of Texas at Tyler, who went 33-6 in their regular season. “UT Tyler (33-6) won the ASC regular-season championship with a 21-3 conference record and will host half of the first-round tournament next week at Irwin Field,” according to their website.

“While the Gents are done with conference play, plenty of intrigue will take part among conference foes this weekend in the run-up to the SCAC Tournament at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, April 28-30.

Centenary, at 15-3, has already wrapped up the outright SCAC regular season title and will be the first seed,” said the Centenary College of Louisiana website about its baseball team. Centenary will enter the NCAA Regional Tournament as the fourth seed team.
Fifth seed Concordia University- Texas has had a season filled with strong offense. In its last game on April 28, the team dominated at the plate, scoring 19 runs on 17 hits. The Wildcat pitching staff will no doubt have to be on the top of their game against the Concordia Tornados.

The University of Texas at Dallas would be the sixth seed, and is 31-9 overall.

“The UT Dallas baseball team took advantage of a three-game sweep of Howard Payne in their final American Southwest Conference series of the regular season to assure themselves the opportunity to host a first-round playoff tournament in the ASC Championship Tournament, set to begin next weekend,” said the UT Dallas baseball web page.

Southern California’s Chapman University would be heading to the NCAA Regional Tournament at seventh seed. “After helping Coach Laverty to his 400th career win on Friday night, the Chapman University baseball team swept Occidental College on Saturday to earn a SCIAC Tournament berth,” stated the team’s web page.

Coming into the tournament as the eighth seed would be one of Linfield’s conference rivals, Willamette University, which has a team batting average of .275, on base percentage of .373, and 33 home runs in its season. The ‘Cats beat Willamette eight days ago during the NWC Tournament.

The ‘Cats are in a great position going forward even though the team lost NWC Player of the Year Scott Hilpert, ‘17. During the last set of games before the NWC Tournament, Hilpert broke his tibia and fibula in a collision with left fielder Jared Evans. “He slid to try to catch it, and I didn’t slide, so my foot got caught under his knee,” Hilpert said.

“Obviously being the Player of the Year it’s a big loss. This being said, as a team we have to be able to find ways to keep winning. We are all playing for him and each win we have is in his honor. He’s got us this far, now it’s time for us to get him a ring,” said teammate and First Team All-NWC pitcher Cal Neely, ‘18.

Officially the NCAA regional tournaments will not be announced until May 14. The predictions can be made in good confidence as the west region conferences’ seasons are finished. The delay to make the regional final is due to the eastern and northern regions still having games to play because of the inclement weather.