FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University has been tabbed as the top seed and host for this week’s NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Baseball Tournament. The six-team, double-elimination tournament will played Thursday through Sunday (May 13-16) on FMU’s Clifford S. Cormell Field.
The Patriots, who are ranked fifth in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II Top 30 poll, own a 38-12 record and will face sixth-seeded and 20th-ranked Erskine College (40-15) in Thursday’s final contest (time to be determined).
Thursday’s two other opening-round games will have third-seeded and eighth-ranked Georgia College & State University (35-15) playing fourth-seeded and sixth-ranked Mount Olive College (40-9) and second-seeded and 10th-ranked Columbus State University (42-10) meeting fifth-seeded and 23rd-ranked Catawba College (40-11).
The regional winner advances to the Division II World Series, May 22-29, at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Lynn University is the defending national champion, while Mount Olive won the 2008 title.
The Southeast Regional could arguably be the toughest regional in the nation as it is the lone one to boast four teams ranked in the Top 10.
If FMU wins its opening game, the Patriots will play the GCSU/Mount Olive loser on Friday evening. A Patriot loss to Erskine would place FMU in the losers’ bracket against the CSU/Catawba loser on Friday.
This will be Francis Marion’s sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and fifth in the past eight seasons. Head coach Art Inabinet guided the 2006 Patriot squad to a 41-18 mark, the regional championship, and the school’s only appearance in the World Series. Last year, FMU was 2-2 in the Southeast Regional.
The 48-team NCAA Division II National Tournament field was released late Sunday (May 9) night. The tournament consists of eight regionals. Nineteen teams, including CSU (Peach Belt Conference), Mount Olive (Conference Carolinas), and Catawba College (South Atlantic Conference), earned automatic berths by winning their conference titles. Francis Marion received one of the 29 at-large invitations.
The Patriots were 4-4 during the regular season against teams in the regional tournament, including a split of two games against Erskine to open the 2010 season.