Tennessee is one of four SEC teams to be seeded in the top eight and one six of chosen as regional hosts. Wright State is the only Horizon League team in the field. But because baseball is more matchup-oriented than other sports, the Raiders don’t feel like they are playing a Goliath.
“You can lose to anybody and you can beat anybody,” said junior outfielder Quincy Hamilton, a Centerville High School grad who on Thursday was named an All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper. “It’s not like we’re playing the New York Yankees, but even then you’re playing against the ball. Or we could be playing the Bad News Bears and they could come out and win.”
The Raiders have never won a regional to advance to the two-team super regional round. After that, of course, is the eight-team College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. This year’s team leads the nation in scoring at 10.6 a game and in team batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
“Our expectation is that we aren’t just going there for the experience,” Hamilton said. “We’re going there to do something that’s never been done in our program.”
The Raiders have three starters ready to go in senior Austin Cline, junior Jake Schrand and sophomore Bradley Bremer. Sogard said Tuesday he had not decided who would start Friday. He and his staff were still reviewing scouting reports and looking for the best matchup.
“Realistically they’re all No. 1 starters, so we could go any direction with them,” Sogard said.
Sogard is in his third season as head coach and fifth season with the program. Winning a regional would be a big step toward earning more respect for the program in Ohio, regionally and nationally.
“Not to be cocky, but more confident, I do think we’re the best baseball team In Ohio,” he said. “And I think when you look at the numbers we could back that up the last four or five years.
“This team, just the depth, it may be the best team we’ve had here since I’ve been an assistant or head coach. I wish we could have played 56 games because I do think we would’ve won 40-45 games.”