Division II Regionals Get Underway

Baseball America’s College Blog allows us to cover the game like never before, and this year we’re experimenting with coverage of the postseason at levels other than Division I.

The Road to Montgomery begins today as 48 teams square off in Division II regional action. The eight regionals will be played at eight different on-campus sites and consist of six teams competing in double-elimination tournaments. Winners of the eight regionals will advance to the double-elimination championship finals at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., from May 25 to June 1.

Defending national champion Tampa makes its eighth straight appearance in the Division II Championships. Tampa (45-9), the South Regional host, brings a 12-game winning streak and an eight-game postseason winning streak into today’s matchup with 26-17 Stillman (Ala.). The Spartans lead the nation in team batting average with a .364 mark and are led by senior third baseman Craig Corrado (.437 batting average, 57 RBIs). Lefthander Kevin Ferguson was tabbed earlier this week as the Sunshine State Conference pitcher of the year going 11-2, 2.68 with 78 strikeouts. The Spartans are also led by junior righthanded closer Jonathan Holt. Holt, who is likely to be drafted in the first five rounds in June, tallied 16 saves during the regular season and struck out 60 in 45 innings of work.

Sonoma (Calif.) State claimed its first ever No. 1 ranking after winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association crown last weekend. The Seawolves (49-10) share the top spot with Tampa in the latest Collegiate Baseball/ABCA poll. The Seawolves are the top seed in the very deep West Regional, which consists of five nationally ranked teams. No. 7 Cal State Los Angeles hosts the regional as the third seed. Fifth-ranked and 2006 national runner-up Chico (Calif.) State is the No. 4 seed. No. 16 Mesa (Colo.) State is the second seed while No. 22 UC San Diego is the fifth seed.

Sonoma State is led by sophomore righthander Brent Lysander. The 2007 Daktronics West Region pitcher of the year was nearly unhittable during the regular season, going 10-1, 1.39.

Central Missouri State (48-11) is making its 14th consecutive postseason appearance and will host the Central Regional as the No. 2 seed. The Mules are led by Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association player of the year Josh Paul. The slugging first baseman batted .378 with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs and posted a slugging percentage of .782. Minnesota State Mankato (44-8) holds the regional’s top seed after winning its 21st North Central Conference title. Minnesota State is led by 2007 All-Central Region pitcher of the year Jon Bjelland (10-0, 2.26).

One of the major stories in this year’s Division II Championships is the amazing run the Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) team has put together this season. The No. 4 ranked Tigers are making their first appearance in the D-II Championships and come into today’s matchup against Angelo (Texas) State in the South Central Regional with a school record 50 wins. OBU is the host of the regional and is the No. 1 seed. The Tigers headline the four Gulf South Conference teams in the tournament. Fellow GSC members Delta (Miss.) State, Montevallo (Ala.), and West Florida join the Tigers at the South Central Regional.