QUINCY — The expectation exists that on the second Sunday of May the Quincy University baseball team will see its name appear on the NCAA Division II Midwest Region bracket.
Yet, until it does, there is always a touch of trepidation.
“You really never know with the committee,” QU left-hander Tyler Carpenter said. “But we always have that feeling we will be seeing our name popping up on the screen.”
Midway through the unveiling of the 56-team field for this year’s NCAA Tournament during a live internet stream Sunday night, the Hawks saw it happen. Quincy drew the No. 4 seed in the Midwest and will travel to Caledonia Township, Mich., where top-seeded Davenport will be the host for the three-team half of the bracket.
The Hawks (33-22) will face fifth-seeded Northwood (30-21-1) in the opening round at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex.
“It’s always exciting,” Carpenter said. “We’ve always had that expectation for ourselves to always make it like that. But when you see it, it’s kind of like a heartfelt moment knowing that all the hard work from the practices and games paid off.”
Second-seeded Wayne State (35-17) will host the other half of the seven-team bracket with third-seeded Illinois-Springfield (43-8), sixth-seeded Ashland (35-19) and seventh-seeded Walsh (30-21) all making the trip to Detroit.
The Midwest super-regional will be played the following week with the champion advancing to the D-II World Series.
Knowing the Hawks are in that mix created a sense of excitement for the players and coaches who gathered in the Hawks’ Nest on campus to watch the selection show.
“The regional has kind of become synonymous with Quincy baseball,” said first-year coach Matt Schissel, who will be making his fourth national tournament appearance as part of the coaching staff. “Every guy who has been in this program for a while has played in one or two or three or four of these.
“It’s kind of the same feeling every time. It’s a breath of fresh air. We get to another week. For a lot of these guys, this could be their last week. Depending on how we play, it could not be.”
The last time the Hawks traveled to Michigan for regional play it turned out to not be the end of the road.
In 2017, Northwood was the region’s top seed, but the Hawks won five games over five days in Midland, Mich., to win the program’s first region championship and advance to the World Series. That run included beating Northwood in back-to-back games in a title showdown.
That can be inspiration and motivation with nothing but baseball to occupy their time this week.
“Finals are done. They have no classes. They have no books to turn in. They have no distractions other than baseball,” Schissel said. “I can’t say that will help us or not, but you’d think it would be a breath of fresh air for the guys. They can focus on one thing.”
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