By Jim Dixon, D3sports.com
Washington University maintained a lock as the top team in the Central region and with the map's dictates, the NCAA placed South Region member Birmingham-Southern here as the top seeded team in the Sauget Regional. It is not common to see the top ranked team moved out of their region but geography made this choice necessary, as BSC was more than 500 miles from every other regional.
Wartburg returns for another shot at a regional title. The Knights first test will be Webster who had a rare absence last year. North Central (Ill.) almost did not make the field and two last day comeback in the CCIW tournament have propelled the Cardinals into the Sauget Regional. Joining NCC are the SLIAC champions, the Greenville Panthers who are making their second trip in three years to the NCAA playoffs.
Sauget Regional schedule - All times Central
Thursday, May 18
Game 1: No. 1 Birmingham-Southern (36-8) vs. No. 6 Greenville (30-15), Noon
Game 2: No. 2 Washington U. (26-8) vs. No. 5 North Central, Ill. (25-16), 3:30
Game 3: No. 3 Wartburg (31-12) vs. No. 4 Webster (29-13), 7:00
Friday, May 19
Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 12:00
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 loser, 3:30
Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7:00
Saturday, May 20
Remaining schedule depends on whether four or five teams remain alive after Game 6. If five teams remain, then Game 7 is an elimination game between the losers of Game 5 and Game 6.
With a 15th best strength of schedule and two wins over top ranked LaGrange, Birmingham-Southern has the pedigree as a favorite. With 35-plus wins in each of the last four years, the Panthers know what it takes to win and having come close to their first D-III World Series appearance on a number of occasions. In 2017, they are looking to seal the deal.
Most likely to disappoint
Webster cruised through the regular season but showed some chinks in the armor along the way. There were unable to win the SLIAC tournament and will have a tough time making it out of the Sauget Regional. Several things will be in their favor this coming weekend. They are the host team and have a coaching staff that has been here before and knows the pressures to perform well.
Greenville is the one team that was not expected to be in the playoffs and had to win the SLIAC tournament to get a pass into the playoffs. These Panthers will have a tough path to Appleton starting with an opening game with our favorite to win the regional.
Players to Watch
C Cody Hyler, Wartburg (.380, 26 R, 5 2B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, .514 SLG)
1B Kyle Uhrich, Webster (.292, 30 R, 12 2B, 6 HR, 30 RBI, .539 SLG)
1B Nick Sotiros, North Central (ill.) (.349, 38 R, 17 2B, 5 HR, 55 RBI, .581)
2B Ben Browdy, Washington (.380, 27 R, 16 2B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, .599 SLG)
3B Michael Mateja, North Central (Ill.) (.420, 55 R, 13 2B, 4 HR, 35 RBI, .651 SLG)
SS Danny Strohm, Greenville (.308, 30 R, 5 2B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .462 SLG)
OF Preston White, Birmingham-Southern (.333, 33 R, 18 2B, 9 HR, 30 RBI, .652 SLG)
OF Jacob Thumann, Wartburg (.340, 40 R, 11 2B, 12 HR, 44 RBI, .642 SLG)
SP Brad Margolin, Washington (9-0, 1.70 ERA, 6 CG, 74.1 IP, 46 H, 61 K, 6 BB, .176 AVE)
SP Stephen Himic, Birmingham-Southern (10-0, 2.03, 4 CG, 77.1 IP, 69 H, 53 K, 16 BB, .243 AVE)
SP Josh Fleming, Webster (8-0, 0.52 ERA, 7 CG, 84.2 IP, 46 H, 108 K, 11 BB. .156 AVE)
SP Jonah Moore, Greenville (8-2, 3.23 ERA, 2 CG, 64.0 IP, 62 H, 47K, 26 BB, .252 AVE)
UTL Kyle Uhrich, Webster (7-2, 2.26 ERA, 2 CG, 4 SV, 55.2 IP, 22 H, 86 K, 24 BB, .119 AVE)
RP Nick Rogalski, North Central (Ill.) (5-2, 4.05 ERA, 7 SV, 33.1 IP, 46 H, 15 K, 11 BB. .333 AVE)