LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - After going a perfect 4-0 in Sugar Land to win the Southland Conference Tournament, the 2019 McNeese baseball season lives on. The team was granted an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 years.
McNeese is headed to the Music City for regional play as Vanderbilt is hosting its seventh regional in program history. The bracket is paired with the West Virginia regional, meaning the winners of the two regionals will meet in a best 2-out-of-3 super regional matchup the following weekend.
With McNeese’s first NCAA tourney appearance in years, the Pokes aren’t trying to add any unnecessary pressure.
“Just ride it out. Have fun with it, and just keep doing what we are doing. Execute. Don’t let the nerves get to us,” McNeese second baseman Nate Fisbeck said. “We played in Baton Rouge. We’ve shown we can compete with the top teams. We need to go in there and execute and do what we do. Hopefully we can catch a couple of breaks.”
The Nashville regional consists of (1) Vanderbilt, (2) Indiana State, (3) McNeese, and (4) Ohio State. The Cowboys will face Indiana State in the regional’s opening game, Friday at noon.
The Pokes and Indiana State have some history. McNeese is 2-1 all-time vs. the Sycamores, with the last game coming in 2004.
“I don’t know anything about Indiana State,” McNeese catcher Dustin Duhon said. “It’s all about us, it doesn’t matter who we play."
Indiana State finished the season with a 41-16 record, including winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament to land an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Sycamores run-ruled (8 innings) the 1 seed in the tournament and the No. 25 team in the nation, Dallas Baptist to win the league tournament.
“I told somebody I didn’t care if the regional was in Baghdad, I was ready to go,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said. “Obviously, it’s a great regional with Vanderbilt as the host. I have a lot of respect for Vanderbilt, but that’s not who we play first. We got Indiana State. It’s going to be fun.”
In addition to the Cowboys history with Indiana State, McNeese has also seen Ohio State before. The Cowboys are 2-1 against the Buckeyes, with the last matchup also in 2004.
McNeese has never played Vanderbilt.