NORFOLK (WAVY) — Three victories in the MEAC Tournament is all that separates Norfolk State from its first ever trip to the Division 1 NCAA Baseball Tournament.
“I think we’re rising, I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” senior Kyle Hass said. “I think we’re getting ready to peak in the tournament.”
“We’re starting to play some of our best baseball right now,” said senior pitcher Matt Outman. “We’re really excited for the tournament.”
NSU is playing its best ball at the right time. The Spartans have won 14 of their last 17 games and they matched last years school record with 27 wins.
“It validates that last year was not a fluke,” said head coach Claudell Clark.
But last season ended in disappointment as the Spartans failed in their bid to make baseball’s version of the big dance.
“I think last year when we got knocked out of the tournament a little earlier then we wanted to that definitely resonates with me,” Haas said. “It’s been my mission to get back to the championship game.”
Norfolk State is strong on the mound. The Spartans are led by two-time MEAC pitcher of the year Matt Outman from Chesapeake.
“I think everyone has been working hard throughout the year we’re starting to put it together as a whole,” Outman said. “Now everyone is kind of finding their stride individually so that’s kind of helping us put it together as a team.”
By virtue of winning the North Division of the MEAC, NSU gets a bye in the conference tournament, which coach Claudell Clark says is a good thing.
“It gives us the opportunity to save some pitching and also gives us a chance to do some scouting and ease our way into the tournament a little bit where as other teams may be on their second game by the time we are playing our first.”
NSU has been in the MEAC championship six times and has never been able to bring home the prize. This group knows how special it would be to the team that finally gets it done.
“Our motto has been has been be the first,” Outman said. “We want to be the first team to bring this championship to Norfolk. That’s what our goal has been since we’ve been here and we’re really looking to push and get it done this year.”
“Well we’d be the first,” coach Clark said. “We’ve been to the championship game a number of times but to be the first team to get that done would be historic for us.”
The Spartans will face the winner of Thursday’s opening round game between Bethune-Cookman and Coppin State Friday at 3:00 in Salisbury, Maryland.