Misericordia Set For Opening-round Series In NCAA Tournament
As tempting as it may have been, Misericordia’s Ian McCole decided the best approach to take ahead of today’s start against Christopher Newport, was to make sure the Captains’ first look at him would be his first look at them as well.
McCole didn’t look for any Christopher Newport statistics. The sophomore right-hander from Shenandoah Valley High School has no idea who leads the team in home runs, batting average or on-base percentage.
“I tried to stay away from it,” McCole said on Wednesday as the Cougars wrapped up practice, preparing to head to Christopher Newport for today’s start of the best-of-five series in the NCAA Division III Regional tournament. “I’m approaching it the same way as any other game. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. I just go about it the same way. I definitely think it’s to my advantage pitching against a team that never saw me before.”
The series starts with a doubleheader today at noon. Game 3 Saturday at noon. A second game will be played on Saturday if necessary, while Sunday’s potential deciding game is scheduled for noon.
The winner of the Misericordia/Christopher Newport series advances to next week’s Super Regional against either Salisbury, Rowan, Washington & Jefferson or Penn State-Abington.
While McCole elected to get his first glance at the Captains today, Misericordia center fielder Parker Abate is taking a different approach. He’s trying to gather as much information as possible.
“We definitely know they know how to hit the baseball,” said Abate, a senior from Malvern Prep. “Being the center fielder, I’m part of the scouting report moving the outfielders during the game. We know they like to swing a lot. They are one of the best teams in the country. There is a lot going into it. It is two different teams and that should make for an interesting series.”
Misericorida (32-11) is making its ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Christopher Newport is 35-7 and won the Capital Athletic Conference. This is the 10th time in program history the Captains are in the tournament.
The Cougars are hitting .324 on the year and lead the country in being hit by a pitch with 97. The Captains are ranked first in the country in walks (298) and home runs (72)
“We joke about that, every team we play has more home runs than we do,” said Misericordia manager Pete Egbert. “We teach plate discipline. Those are the type of players we are recruiting, the guy that has a big on-base percentage. We are pretty athletic and run a lot. We like to put some pressure on the defense and give ourselves an opportunity to score more runs.”
McCole is 10-1 on the year with a 1.88 ERA. He won two games in the MAC Freedom Tournament and was named MVP. Kenny Jarema is hitting .438, while Abate is batting .338. First baseman Tyler Holzapfel leads the team with 47 RBIs.
Misericordia is one of four teams that played in last year’s World Series to advance to this year’s tournament.
“We’re not afraid of anybody. We proved that last year and we are out to prove that this year,” Abate said. “Getting almost everyone back from last year, we have that experience in the clubhouse. We are not going to walk up to that field nervous or feel like we don’t belong there.”
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