It’s that time of the year again! The flowers are blooming, the rain is falling, and the inevitable Virginia humidity has already made a surprise appearance or two. And of course, it’s time for the CAA Baseball Tournament! William & Mary recently ended its regular season, finishing 3rd in the CAA with an impressive 31-23, 15-8 record. Northeastern (28-23, 16-7 CAA) and UNCW (28-27, 16-8 CAA) paced the pack, finishing #1 and #2 respectively. Northeastern finished the season strong, winning 6-in-a-row heading into the tournament. They’re certainly one of the primary front runners this year. UNCW also finished strong, going 4-2 in their final contests. But enough talk of the competition, we’re already bored writing it. How do things look for your William & Mary Tribe? Let’s find out.
The CAA baseball tournament is a double elimination format. Meaning, if you lose two games, you’re out. You can win one, lose one, win one, and lose one. Follow that? In that scenario, the team would have gone 2-1 in its first three games, then lost, knocking them out of the Tournament. Last season, W&M had lost one game going into the Championship against UNCW; UNCW had 0 losses. W&M had to beat UNCW twice in a row to win the CAA Championship, which naturally, the team did. No big deal. Don’t you soon forget!
Speaking of last season, W&M came in as the number 2 seed in the CAA tournament. This year, despite a better overall record, W&M gets the third seed. The team this year unfortunately does not procure a game-1 bye, and must play the first day. To get the ball rolling, the #3-seeded Tribe will face off against the number #6-seeded Elon Phoenix.
In this game, scheduled for 3 PM on Wednesday, May 24th, W&M will face off against Elon. W&M went 2-1 in the season series against Elon this year, all of which were played within the friendly confines of Plumeri Park. In the first and second contests of the series, W&M blew out Elon, by scores of 8-2 and 14-6. In game three, W&M was down 7-1 going into the bottom of the 9th. The Tribe would go on to score 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th in an attempt at a miracle comeback. Ultimately, the comeback would fall short, as the Phoenix squeaked out the close victory, 7-6.
Elon (24-30, 12-12 CAA), despite a mediocre record, has won three straight games, including a win over 2nd seed UNCW. They’re hot. They should pose a good matchup for W&M in the first round, but they certainly won’t be an easy out (get what we did there?).
If W&M beats Elon…
The team will face off against #2-seeded UNCW on Thursday, May 25th. In the season series against UNCW, which took place in Wilmington, NC, W&M finished just 1-2. After a blowout loss in game 1, losing by a score of 11-1, the next two games were very close. In game 2, W&M sported a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. In that inning, UNCW scored 4 runs and ended up winning, 6-5. Heartbreaker. However, the Tribe would get revenge. In game 3, W&M escaped with a narrow 10-9 victory, but a victory nonetheless.
It would be fun to see a rematch of last year’s Championship game between W&M and UNCW. If W&M defeats Elon, and comes away victorious against UNCW, it would do wonders toward procuring a Championship for the second year in a row. Easier said than done, but certainly possible. As we’ve seen last year, a loss wouldn’t mean the end, but it would make the road to the CAA Championship that much harder.
If W&M loses to Elon…
If W&M loses to Elon in the first game, it will be a difficult, uphill battle. The Green and Gold would find itself one game from elimination, and would have to play another game on Wednesday at 7 PM against the loser of the Charleston-Delaware game. Whichever team loses that game on Wednesday night would be eliminated from the tournament on day one. Not a good way to go.
As we stated in our last baseball article, this team is balanced and very talented. Offensively, the team finished third in the league in batting average, runs scored, and hits. In terms of pitching, W&M finished third in team ERA and batters struck out, as well as fourth in opposing batting average. Finally, the team finished third in the CAA in fielding percentage. Pretty good numbers from a very capable team.
We say all of this to prove that W&M is capable of winning in many ways. The team can win with its hitting, or with its pitching; any way you look at it, these are very nice luxuries to have, especially come playoff time. The most important thing is to get by Elon in game 1 with a W. In this double elimination format, losing the first game spells disaster right from the get-go. It’s all hands on deck this Wednesday.
W&M is certainly capable of winning the CAA championship. As Tribe fans remember, W&M has made it to the CAA title round three of the previous four seasons– including a Championship victory last year as the #2 seed. This team is experienced and has what it takes to make it to the title round again this year.
If the Tribe wins the CAA Championship for the second year in a row, it will only be the second time in school history that it has happened. The only other W&M baseball team to win back-to-back conference Championships occurred way back in 1914 and 1915 seasons. Remember those? Ah, the glory days. Just kidding, we don’t remember it either. Here’s to hoping that W&M Baseball can make some more history this year.
We believe. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!