CLEVELAND, MS - Florida Southern college opens play here Thursday against Valdosta State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament at Harvey Stadium/Ferriss Field on the campus of Delta State University.
The Moccasins, seeded fourth in the tournament, will take a 34-15 record into their game against No. 5 seeded Valdosta State (33-20) at 8 pm. ET in the third game of the tournament. The winner moves on to face host Delta State at 4 p.m. ET on Friday while the loser will play in the loser's bracket game on Saturday, also at 4 p.m. ET in the double elimination tournament.
The is the 41st trip to NCAA postseason for the Moccasins who have won a Division II record nine national championships—the last in 2005—and 20 regional tournament titles. Overall, the Moccasins sport a 146-76 record in the postseason. The last time Florida Southern competed in the South Region Tournament was in 2013 when current head coach Lance Niekro led the Moccasins to a regional runner-up finish.
Florida Southern has faced Valdosta State in NCAA postseason play seven times and holds a slim 4-3 advantage over the Blazers. The last time the two clubs met in South Regional play was in 2009 when the Moccasins won 6-3 in a game played in Magnolia, Ark. This is the 71st time the two clubs have played overall and Florida Southern has a 50-20 record vs. the Blazers.
Offensively, the Moccasins are led by shortstop Omar Villaman, who is tops with a .384 batting average and 15 stolen bases. Logan Browning, who plays right field or serves as DH when not pitching, is second on the squad with a .380 mark and has six homers and 40 RBI.
Mitch Reeves has smashed 17 homers this season, the second most ever for any Moccasin hitter, and is tied for fourth on the FSC career list with 28 round-trippers. Reeves leads a quartet of FSC hitters with 10 or more homers, joining Cody Burgess (13), Austin Mauer (11), and Jason Sierra (10). This year's squad has tied the school record with 76 home runs.
As a team, is batting .316 and has a .961 fielding percentage.
On the mound, Jake Walsh leads FSC with a 12-1 record, 2.37 ERA and 103 strikeouts. The 12 wins in the most for a Moccasin pitcher since Brett Tomko posted a 15-2 mark in leading the 1995 team to a national championship. Walsh is just the 25th pitcher in Moccasin history to record 100 or more strikeouts in a single season.
Browning sports a 7-2 record and a 3.96 ERA. With 99 strikeouts he needs one more to join Walsh and give the Moccasins a pair of pitchers with 100 or more punchouts for the first time since 1994 when David Harris (155), Brian Dalton (122) and Phil Harris (101) each hit triple digits.
Cameron Hanes is the Moccasin closer with 10 saves this season to go with his 1.44 ERA.
Valdosta State, out of the Gulf South Conference, brings a 33-20 record into its 20th NCAA postseason appearance and its first since 2013.
Murray Dalton leads the team with a .390 average and has six homers and 44 RBI, while Luke Suchon sports a .365 mark and Cody Ilgenfritz boasts a .329 average. As a team, the Blazers are hitting .275 with 30 homers and a .962 fielding percentage.
On the hill, Hunter Jones (7-5, 2.97 ERA, 77 K) and Austin Hamilton (5-6, 3.65 ERA, 103 K) top the team while Beau Blair (5-1, 7 SV, 2.45 ERA) is in the closer role.
NCAA SOUTH REGION TOURNAMENT HOME PAGE (for live video and live stats)
NCAA DIVISION II BASEBALL
SOUTH REGION TOURNAMENT
(all times Eastern Time)
THURSDAY, MAY 18
GM1 - #3 Nova Southeastern vs #6 West Alabama – 12:00 pm
GM2 - #2 Tampa vs #7 Miles – 4:00 pm
GM3 - #4 Florida Southern vs #5 Valdosta State – 8:00 pm
FRIDAY, MAY 19
GM4 - Loser GM1 vs Loser GM2 – 12:00 pm
GM5 - #1 Delta State vs Winner GM3 – 4:00 pm
GM6 - Winner GM1 vs. Winner GM2 – 8:00 pm
SATURDAY, MAY 20
GM7 - Loser GM5 vs Winner GM4 – 12:00 pm
GM8 - Loser GM3 vs Loser GM6 – 4:00 pm
GM9 - Winner GM5 vs. Winner GM6 – 8:00 pm
SUNDAY, MAY 21
GM10 - Winner GM7 vs Winner GM8 – 1:00 pm
GM11 - Winner GM10 vs Loser GM9 – 4:00 pm
MONDAY, MAY 22
GM12 - Winner GM9 vs Winner GM11 – 2:00 pm
GM13 - If Necessary – 5:00 pm