LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Following an undefeated run through the Southland Conference Tournament, the McNeese Cowboys are headed to the NCAA Tournament. McNeese will be the No. 3 seed in Vanderbilt’s Nashville Regional.
“It’s awesome. They got it right and put the Cowboys in Nashville," said McNeese catcher Dustin Duhon. "Can’t complain about that.”
It’s the first regional appearance for McNeese since the Cowboys played in Rice’s Houston regional in 2003.
“It’s been surreal for us fighting to come from way out of it to then winning the conference tournament. It’s huge for all of us," admitted McNeese pitcher Aidan Anderson. "It’s something I think we’ll take with us as we go.”
It came as a bit of a surprise to the Pokes when McNeese wasn’t selected for LSU’s Baton Rouge Regional.
“I was a little shocked," said McNeese infielder Nate Fisbeck. "Coming in I was thinking Mississippi State or LSU.”
Although, the Cowboys are still heading to SEC country in the Music City. At least one Cowboy wasn’t surprised at the reveal.
“I knew before I even got here that Baton Rouge wasn’t an option just because of some people that I knew," McNeese coach Justin Hill said. "A couple of things were crossed off the list beforehand. After that, its kind of like, let’s go, man, wherever it’s going to be.”
Another welcome surprise was that McNeese was awarded the No. 3 seed in the regional. Meaning they’ll avoid Vanderbilt in the opening round and will instead take on second-seeded Indiana State. The Sycamores won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament to land their bid. Indiana State finished the year with a 41-16 record along with four wins over ranked opponents.
“It doesn’t matter what the front of the jersey says, we respect everybody as ball players and their a good ball club," Anderson said of ISU. "For us, it was a matter of knowing where we were going more so than who we were going to play against.”
The winner of the first-round game won’t avoid the Commodores for long however as they’ll likely play Vanderbilt on Saturday.
“Everybody knows Vanderbilt. They are number two in the nation or number one if you ask certain people," said Duhon. "Playing on a bigger stage like that, you have to bring your 'A' game every time. The Cowboy don’t fear anybody.”
Nashville Regional Schedule
Double elimination format
Game 1: No. 3 McNeese (35-24) vs. No. 2 Indiana State (41-16), noon Friday (ESPN3)
Game 2: No. 1 Vanderbilt (49-10) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (35-25), 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN2)
Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, noon Saturday
Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m. Saturday
Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2 p.m. Sunday
Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 8 p.m. Sunday
Game 7 (if necessary): Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 6, 6 p.m. Monday