Potential NCAA spots popping up for UNCW baseball

Noah Thomas | Sports Editor

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With just one series remaining in the 2016 regular season, it is time for UNCW to look toward postseason play.

The Colonial Athletic Association’s conference tournament is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 25 in Charleston, South Carolina. UNCW clinched a first-round bye in the tournament over the weekend after a Northeastern loss, despite the Seahawks dropping two of three games at James Madison.

Matchups in the tournament have yet to be decided. Second-place William & Mary is only 1.5 games back of the Seahawks in the standings with just three games to play, keeping UNCW from clinching a second straight CAA regular season championship. The Tribe is 13-7 in conference play.

Even more exciting, though–and much higher on the priority list of the fans–is where UNCW will end up after the CAA tournament. The 64-team NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament will start in just over two weeks on June 3.

UNCW (35-13, 14-5) made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008 a year ago, and the Seahawks are currently on their way to making a return trip. Boasting a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rank of 34 (a five-spot slide after the series against JMU), UNCW may very well earn an at-large bid if it does not win the CAA tournament in Charleston.

With the possibility of hosting an NCAA Regional nearly out of the question, UNCW fans will have to travel. According to D1Baseball.com, a likely landing spot may be in Raleigh.

Currently projected to be a host, North Carolina State faced UNCW twice in the regular season and split the home-and-home series 1-1. The first game in the series, a 5-2 win for NC State, occurred way back on March 2.

Game 2 of the series took place a few weeks later at Brooks Field in Wilmington, where the Seahawks sent the Wolfpack home with a 6-4 loss and what stands, at this point, as UNCW’s signature win of 2016.

The trip would be much more manageable than UNCW’s 2015 trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

A year ago, head coach Mark Scalf led UNCW to an exciting win in the CAA tournament, followed by a trip down to bayou country. The Seahawks went 2-2 in the regional, beating Tulane twice.

They dropped a pair of 2-0 decisions to Louisiana State, which was ranked No. 2 overall in the nation, fulfilling the double-elimination scenarios that ended their season.

UNCW will be looking for more this time around.