Athletes and coaches don't get many chances for do-overs.
Ashland University's baseball team has that chance at the 2016 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament, Thursday-Monday (May 19-23) in Quincy, Ill. The Eagles, the No. 6 seed, will begin play on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern against Indianapolis (37-19), the No. 3 seed.
AU is 31-20 overall, but is looking for redemption following an 0-2 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
"It's a brand-new season. We're all 0-0," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "We've played a number of these teams over the years. If we play the way we're capable of playing, we think we can do very well in this tournament.
"Anyone can win this thing, and we feel we have as good a chance as anyone. We know we're going to have to play well to do it."
There is a precedent for what the Eagles will attempt to accomplish this week – in 2008, they were 0-2 in the GLIAC Tournament, then went 4-1 in the Midwest Regional to advance to the NCAA Division II Championships.
AU'S POSTSEASON HISTORY
The Eagles have advanced to the Division II Championships five times (2008, 2006, 2002, 1999 and 1995).
Ashland is 28-31 all-time in the Division II postseason. The Eagles are going to the playoffs for the second season in a row and the fourth time this decade. All of AU's D-II postseason appearances have come since 1995.
A LOOK AT THE EAGLES
Ashland boasts one of the top pitchers in the country in junior right-hander Brandyn Sittinger, who is 10-0 with a 2.34 earned-run average and 117 strikeouts and 80 2/3 innings. Junior lefty Mike Gentile has worked his way into a prominent starting role, and is 2-1, 3.17 in 48 1/3 innings.
"We've got a lot of arms that have gotten good experience through the year," Schaly said. "We're going to need our pitching staff to put it together and be consistent. We feel good heading into the tournament."
Seven starters are hitting .320 or higher, and eight have collected at least 20 RBIs. Sophomore third baseman J.P. Sorma is on a 25-game hitting streak, and is hitting .383 with 11 doubles, 15 home runs and 54 RBIs. Senior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire is a .384 hitter with 11 doubles, two triples, five homers, 53 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Ashland has scored at least 10 runs in 18 games in 2016.
"We have scored runs throughout most of the year. We need to put all phases of the game together," Schaly said. "If we can do that, we feel we can win this thing."
A LOOK AT THE FIELD
No. 1 seed and host Quincy (37-16) was the top-ranked team in the region in all three rankings prior to the announcement of the tournament field on Sunday (May 15) night. Senior outfielder Ryan Snyder is a .447 hitter with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs…No. 2 seed Grand Valley State (35-16-1) earned the GLIAC's automatic bid after winning the conference tournament. Junior closer Matt Williams sports a 0.22 ERA, a 3-0 record and a D-II-record-tying 20 saves…Indy, the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament winner, is on a five-game winning streak. Sophomore closer Dylan Stutsman is 6-1, 1.90 with 11 saves…No. 4 seed Southern Indiana (33-19), like Ashland, went 0-2 at its conference tourney. Sophomore infielder Sam Griggs is hitting .336 with seven homers, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases…No. 5 seed Missouri S&T (35-17) is 22-4 at home, but 13-13 in away/neutral-site games. Senior infielder Nick Ulrich is hitting at a .321 clip with seven homers and 52 RBIs…No. 7 seed Hillsdale (32-22) boasts a multi-faceted offense with both power and speed. Senior outfielder Luke Ortel is hitting .470 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 11 homers, 49 RBIs and 29 stolen bases…No. 8 seed Alderson Broaddus (31-19) is the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament champ. Junior infielder Marquis Collier is hitting .427 with four homers and 55 RBIs.