By ZACH GILLELAND
Following a two-week layoff since their previous contest, the Salisbury University baseball team now knows its destination in the NCAA Tournament.
Fresh off a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship, the Sea Gulls (31-9) eye their third College World Series appearance in four seasons. Salisbury will travel 323 miles to Danville, Va. as the No. 1 seed in the South Region.
The Sea Gulls open the regional slate against Roanoke College on Thursday at 11 a.m.
Headlining the region alongside the Sea Gulls is LaGrange College (Ga.). The USA South Conference Champion Panthers (38-4) head into the tournament as the top-ranked team in the country according to D3baseball.com
Below The Flyer breaks down each team in the South Region, in order by their seed.
The last time SU played, the maroon and gold upset the then No. 1 Shenandoah Hornets 8-4. The Sea Gulls are red hot heading into the tournament, winners of 17 of their last 19.
Boasting one of the top offenses in the nation, Salisbury is tied for first in the country with 49 home runs. Pitching became a strength for the Sea Gulls after a rough start, holding a 3.78 ERA that is good for second in the CAC.
The No. 2 seed in the region, the Panthers have won eight consecutive games. LaGrange players will have familiarity with the regional site, as the area is home to fellow USA South Conference member Averett University.
Only four losses on the season, two have come from No. 5 Birmingham Southern. LaGrange offers strong offense and pitching, hitting a .330 average at the plate and a 2.69 ERA that is second in the nation.
Receivers of an at-large bid, the Profs fell in extra innings in their conference championship game against Ramapo College. Rowan and Salisbury met earlier this season, with the Sea Gulls coming out on top with a 6-2 victory at home.
Pitching has led the way for the Profs this season as the team yields a 3.31 ERA. Although holding a .291 average on offense, the team has hit only nine home runs.
The Eagles return to the NCAA Tournament one year after falling to Wisconsin-La Crosse in the College World Series. Emory and LaGrange met earlier this season, with the Panthers winning 9-4.
Emory has a perfect 4-0 record in neutral site games this season. Offensively, Emory averages 6.82 runs-per-game and sports a 3.34 ERA.
Winners of seven consecutive games, the Cardinals defeated Mount Union University to win their sixth Ohio Athletic Conference Championship. Otterbein holds a 3-2 record against ranked opponents this season.
Like the Sea Gulls, the Cardinals have showcased their ability to hit the long ball, hitting 35 home runs. Otterbein boasts a .302 average on offensive and their 2.74 ERA ranks third in the nation.
Receiving the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s (ODAC) automatic bid, the Maroons head to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first conference championship. Roanoke and Salisbury have faced five common opponents this season, with Roanoke holding a 3-7 record against those teams.
The Maroons sport an even .300 average and score 6.67 runs-per-game. The Sea Gulls hold the edge over Roanoke in pitching as the Maroons’ 4.27 ERA ranks fourth in the ODAC.