Tulane nabs nation’s top seed in regional play

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Green Wave to open up against SWAC Champ Southern on Friday at 2:30, possible Super Regional match-up with LSU

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Tulane University baseball team claimed the No. 1 National Seed and will play host to Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern in the NCAA New Orleans Regional beginning Friday, June 3, the NCAA Baseball Selection Committee announced Monday.

The Regional is the second to ever be played at Turchin Stadium, and the first since 2001 when the Green Wave defeated Southern once and Oklahoma State twice to claim the program’s first Regional championship. Like the 2001 postseason tournament, the Green Wave will open postseason play in 2005 against fourth-seeded Southern at 2:30 p.m. No. 2 seed Alabama battles third-seeded UL-Lafayette at 6:30 p.m.

“This is a credit to our kids,” Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. “They performed all year, had preseason accolades and it’s not easy to go out every day when you know you’re going to get the `A’ game of every other team you play. We talked about it earlier in the season, there’s a reason you get ranked high. One is because of your talent level, but certainly your experience has a lot to do with that. And I think our experience really played a factor.

“Our kids handled it very well all year long, and we’ve pitched and played defense almost every day. If you can do that, you have a chance to stay in a lot of ballgames. I thought our work ethic was good. You can’t get the No. 1 seed in the country unless you do a lot of things right.”

The postseason bid marks the 17th time Tulane qualified for the NCAA Regionals, and extends its consecutive appearances streak to eight in a row. The Green Wave earned the No. 1 national seed after going 50-9 prior to Regional play, including the Conference USA regular-season championship and a share of the 2005 C-USA Tournament title. The league’s championship game was rained out, Tulane was named co-champion along with regular-season runner-up TCU, and the Green Wave earned the automatic Regional bid via the higher seed.

Southern, Tulane’s first-round opponent, earned an automatic bid in the Regional after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament with a dramatic 6-5, 15-inning victory over Prairie View A&M in Birmingham, Ala. The Jaguars enter the Regional 29-15 on the year, including the SWAC West title courtesy of a 17-7 mark in league action.

“They’re very good,” Jones said. “We opened the Regional with them in ’01 and played them again in the regional in ’02, so we know a little bit about them. The one thing I know about (Southern head) Coach (Roger) Cador, he’s always going to have a lot of talent on the field and they’re going to put pressure on you. Offensively, they’re a tough team to deal with. If they get a hot hand on the mound, you’ve got a tough matchup there, and one we certainly have to be ready to play.”

Alabama earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Regionals after going 38-21, including a 17-13 mark in Southeastern Conference play, which ranked third in the SEC West. UL-Lafayette, meanwhile, earned an at-large berth as well after going 47-17 overall and winning the Sun Belt Conference regular-season crown with a 16-8 league mark.

“Alabama is an outstanding program, as is UL-Lafayette,” Jones said. “Both of those teams had great years, and Southern has always been so tough. To be in the field of 64 means you have a real good club. You’re not going to have a regional without a lot of challenges, and this is one of them.”

The winner of the 2005 NCAA New Orleans Regional will advance to take on the winner of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, which features host LSU, second-seeded Rice, third-seeded Northwestern State and fourth-seeded Rice. The winner of the Super Regional matchup will advance to the 2005 College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Tulane is one of four current Conference USA teams to advance to NCAA Regional play as TCU claimed the No. 2 seed in the Baylor Regional, Southern Miss was seeded second in the Oxford Regional and East Carolina was seeded third in the Tempe Regional. In addition, 2006 C-USA member Rice is the second seed at LSU.