By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Concord University baseball team was happy on Sunday night to hear about its destination in this week’s NCAA Division II Atlantic Region baseball tournament.
The Mountain Lions will play on Thursday in Winston-Salem, N.C., against Millersville (Pa.) University. The pairings for the national tournament field were released via an NCAA webcast on Sunday night, and the Con-cord team was watching at the Rahall Technology Center on campus.
In a phone interview, Concord head coach Andrew Wright said about the site, “I think it’s probably a most ideal situation for us. It’s so close. We can be there in a couple of hours. It’s a big advantage for us.”
The location was not a complete surprise. Wright said, “Just from talking to people in the last week or so, it looks as if we will have a pretty good turnout for fan support, and that’s really important to us as well.”
Concord (36-18) was seeded sixth in the region by the NCAA selection committee and therefore drew the top seed, Millersville (38-16) of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
“I expected for us to be sixth, to be honest,” Wright said. Even though Concord won the WVIAC baseball championship earlier this month — for the second time in three years — Wright said, “There’s not been a lot of respect for us the last part of the season.”
Asked what he knew about the Marauders, Wright said, “I know they’re a very, very good baseball team. I have a lot of respect for their program, and I expect a very good, very competitive game. They’re going to see our best game. It should be a good one.”
Millersville has posted a .319 team batting average and their pitchers have a composite earned-run average of 3.62.
“They kind of make their living off their pitching,” Wright said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, especially in the tournament format, you’ve got to be able to pitch.”
He added, “The way we’ve pitched last 15 to 20 games, we’re going to be in great shape.”
The Marauders lost in the PSAC semifinals but retained the top regional seed and were awarded an at-large berth.
Wright said the atmosphere was “great” among his players when they met Sunday night.
“As a program, we’ve kind of developed an expectation to be sitting and watching the selection show. We’ve been pounding into our players’ heads every year, we play for more than February through April.”
Regarding the seeding, he said, “Our guys took it in stride. ... I think what it did for some of them is to put a chip on our shoulders. It’s a good thing to go down there with that.”
The time and exact location of Thursday’s game will be sorted out when Wright participates in a conference call planned for today.