For Ashland University's baseball team, the road to the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships will go through St. Charles, Mo.
The Eagles (36-17) will begin Midwest Regional play on Thursday (May 14) at 4 p.m. against Quincy (39-15) at the Lou Brock Sports Complex, the home of Lindenwood University's baseball team. Ashland is the No. 6 seed in the six-team, double-elimination regional, while the Hawks are the top seed.
"Seeding, to me, doesn't mean anything. Anyone can win it," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "We've won tournaments where we were a lower seed. Everyone starts the same."
The winner of each of the eight Division II regionals will advance to the D-II national tournament, May 23-30 in Cary, N.C.
Regional Schedule (all times Eastern)
Game 1: Quincy vs. ASHLAND, May 14, 4 p.m.
Game 2: Grand Valley State (34-16) vs. Drury (31-22-1), May 14, noon.
Game 3: William Jewell (37-17) vs. Truman (31-20), May 14, 8 p.m.
Game 4: Loser of Game 1 vs. loser of Game 2, May 15, noon.
Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. loser of Game 3, May 15, 4 p.m.
Game 6: Winner of Game 2 vs. winner of Game 3, May 15, 8 p.m.
Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. winner of Game 6, May 16, noon.
Game 8: Winner of Game 4 vs. loser of Game 6, May 16, 4 p.m.
Game 9: Winner of Game 8 vs. loser of Game 7, May 16, 8 p.m.
Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs. winner of Game 9, May 17, 1 p.m.
Game 11: (if needed), May 17, 4 p.m.
"We're used to this tournament format," Schaly said. "We may handle our pitching a little differently. We'll just see how it goes from one day to the next."
Scouting The Midwest Regional
ASHLAND boasts Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year Stephen James, a senior second baseman who is hitting .393 with 64 runs scored, 18 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 53 RBIs and a .716 slugging percentage. Junior pitcher Jake Baldwin is 9-1 with a 2.54 earned run average…DRURY has three players with at least 38 RBIs and three .300-plus hitters. The Panthers have outscored opponents 41-11 in the eighth inning…GRAND VALLEY STATE has eight .300 hitters, including Matt Williams, who was 11-for-20 with 14 RBIs in four games in the GLIAC Tournament. Patrick Kelly is 7-1 with a 3.03 ERA…QUINCY has four .300 bats, and nine players with 20 or more RBIs. Graham Spraker is 5-1 with three complete games and a 2.12 ERA…TRUMAN is going to the NCAA postseason for the first time thanks to five .300 hitters and an offense with 69 stolen bases in 51 games. Kent Frantz (8-2, 2.44) and Cody Gardner (8-5, 3.62) have combined for 15 complete games…WILLIAM JEWELL has seven regulars hitting better than .300, and six players collecting 30 or more RBIs. Austin Kretchmar is 9-2 with seven complete games and a 2.53 ERA.
"Everyone there is good. You don't get this far without being talented," said Schaly. "We feel we have as good a chance as anyone there."
This is the 13th time Ashland has played in the Division II postseason in the last 17 seasons…Schaly has led the Eagles to 36 or more wins in 12 of his 18 seasons. "We've had talented players over the years who have bought into our system, and have worked very hard to achieve these successes," he said. "This is a testament to the players and the assistant coaches over the years."…James' 35 extra-base hits are the most for an Eagle since Nate Moore (37) in 2001.