Smejkal, UNO make history
*Editor’s note: For a full story on Parker Smejkal’s season with UNO, overcoming an injury and starting at a community college, pick up Friday’s edition of The Telegram.
For the first time in the history of baseball in Nebraska, all three Division I programs will participate in the NCAA tournament when competition for the national championship begins later this week.
The City of Columbus and the Columbus High baseball program will be part of the festivities in the form of Nebraska-Omaha junior Parker Smejkal.
Smejkal and UNO won the Summit League tournament championship on Saturday in Oklahoma and earned the automatic bid to the 64-team field.
The Mavericks are in just their fourth year of Division I competition and will travel to California for the third time this season after winning their conference’s regular-season crown and postseason tournament - ending a run of 19 straight Summit League tournament titles for Oral Roberts.
Smejkal and UNO defeated Oral Roberts on its home field to make history.
“When we found out, it just happened right away, we didn’t think we were going to be the first team called as a four seed,” Smejkal said, during a phone interview on Monday afternoon.
Smejkal and his teammates were gathered at DJ’s Dugout in downtown Omaha to watch the NCAA selection show. UCLA was revealed as the top seed in the tournament.
The Bruins’ first-round opponent: The Mavericks.
“It was kind of a little unexpected, but people were still excited to get into the tournament and make a name for Omaha,” he said.
Smejkal leads the Mavs this year with a .333 batting average, 14 doubles, 40 RBIs and a .457 on-base percentage.