Eight teams set to close out Appleton

Texas-Tyler head coach Brent Porche has his Patriots in the D-III World Series for the first time.
photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - All week, the fans, tournament organizers, and D3baseball.com, will be reflecting on the final series in Wisconsin. On Thursday, the teams took their final pre-tournament practices and the coaches reflected on their chances to take home the Walnut and Bronze.

Last May, Oswego State and Concordia-Chicago led a large group of newcomers to the D-III World Series and are now part of three veteran teams in this year's field.

"It's a great feeling as there is a lot of hard work that went into it and it is really gratifying to sit back and understand that you don't get this opportunity too many times," said Oswego head coach Scott Landers. "With the spring we had, being back with all these great people, I could not be more proud of this team."

"I feel weird as we are young pups around the block but feel like veterans with us and Oswego being here last year," said Concordia-Chicago head coach Mike Stawski. "I have coaches asking me about the lay of the land. Our program is back and so are the most of they guys who were here last year."

Wooster is the only school that has been to more than one World Series but only the coaching staff made the trip with the Scots here in 2009.

"We always have a great time in Appleton," said Wooster head coach Tim Pettorini. "The experiences of the guys are something they will remember for a long time. We want them to enjoy the experience, see everything there is to see and soak it in but don't forget to play. That's important too."

Texas has two teams in the final eight. Texas-Tyler won the Central regional and Texas Lutheran took the West crown.

"It is great to have two Texas teams here," said Texas-Tyler head coach Brent Proche. "We have a lot of good baseball down there and it is awesome to see the region get the recognition by getting teams in the postseason."

"I think it says a lot," said Texas Lutheran head coach Greg Burnett. "Texas has pretty good baseball. To get two teams in Appleton is pretty awsome."

Misericordia might gain a couple of the Texas fans as they started their travels in Dallas - Pennsylvania that is not Texas.

"When I first got to Misericordia, I had to explain to people who did not know about Dallas, Misericordia," Misericordia head coach Pete Egbert said. "It has been an unbelievable experience. We have been in the regional eight years straight but did not think we were close. For our guys to accomplish that they have accomplished, being one of eight teams left in the country, is very special."

Joining Misericordia from the Mid-Atlantic is Swarthmore. The Garnet is the biggest surprise in the tournament.

"This has caught a lot of us off guard," said Swarthmore head coach Matt Midkiff. "We finished last year's spring strong and we took our spring break trip to the northwest and that toughened us up a bit. When we got back to Pennsylvania, we played real well and that did not stop. We have to keep staying within ourselves but understand that this is just a baseball game."

Randolph-Macon's head coach Ray Hedrick has made the trip with NCAA administration duties the past couple years but this year, his role is going to be different.

"It is exciting to be here," said Hedrick. "2016 was a little bittersweet since we were only 90 feet away from being here. It is certainly special and a great opportunity for our team."

Bennett summed up what the trip means for all the players and coaches.

"For most of the players it is a dream come true but for us as a coaching staff it is too.  I have been in the game twenty-five years as a player or coach and all I ever wanted was a shot to be in a World Series."