The 2022 NCAA baseball tournament is getting underway today. Out of all the teams in South Carolina, only Coastal Carolina manged to merit a bid to the dance, a far cry from the potential 4 teams we could have had. Prior to the final week of the season, we were looking at the possibility of Clemson maybe backdooring their way in, the College of Charleston being a favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association and get the automatic bid from there, Coastal Carolina getting in on RPI, USC Upstate having a chance to beat Campbell and earn the Big South bid, and Wofford being heavy favorites to win the Southern Conference tournament.
We certainly wish the best of luck to #3 seeded Coastal as they will be taking on the 2-seeded Virginia tonight in the Greenville (NC) regional.
I would be remiss not to point out that South Carolina does have a team in the College World Series already. North Greenville is in the NCAA Division II college world series for the first time in school history after sweeping their regional and taking 2 out of 3 from Columbus State in the Tigerville Super Regional last Saturday. Not only that, but they are the #1 seed of the “Cary 8” (equivalent to the elite 8 in D1 that go to Omaha). They will be taking on the 8th-seeded West Chester University Golden Rams at the USA Baseball National Team training complex in Cary, NC this Sunday at 6:00 in the opening round of the CWS.
Best of luck to Landon Powell’s Crusaders as they pursue a Division II national championship.
Now for what many may find to be the most shocking news from the announcement of the Division I baseball tournament field of 64 back on Memorial Day: Wofford was left out, as the last of the last 4 out.
The Terriers had a historic season. Despite the disappointment of losing the SoCon tournament championship to a red-hot UNC-Greensboro team, Wofford had an incredibly historic 2022 season. Let’s list their accomplishments:
- The Terriers won a school record 42 games, finishing with a record of 42-16-1.
- They took 2 out of 3 from Dallas Baptist, who was ranked 18th when they beat them (who by they way, still made the tournament for their 8th straight appearance as the 3 seed in the Austin regional)
- Wofford’s RPI was as high as 10th (on April 25th), and they finished with an RPI of 35.
- They won the SoCon Regular Season Championship for the second straight season and were the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament for the 2nd year running.
- The Terriers were ranked in the top 25 for the first time in school history (ranked 25th in the Baseball America poll on April 12th) and were ranked in all 3 college baseball weekly polls (Baseball America, USA Today Coaches’, and D1 Baseball) in mid April.
- Only lost 1 series in the regular season (to Samford).
- Todd Interdonato was named SoCon Coach of the Year for the 2nd year in a row.
- Catcher Lawson Hill was named consensus SoCon Player of the Year.
- 10 players named to all-SoCon honors, marking the most in program history.
- Lawson Hill, DH Brennen Dorighi, Starting Pitcher Matthew Marchal, 1B John Dempssey, 3B Ryan Galanie, and Relief Pitcher Dalton Rhadans were all named consensus 1st team all-SoCon.
- Starting Pitcher Josh Vitus was named a consensus 2nd team all-SoCon.
- Pitchers Carter Bailey and Coulson Buchanan and Center Fielder Marshall Toole were named to the conference’s all-freshman team.
This team truly accomplished a lot, and it was thanks in part to a tremendous group of seniors. The end of the 2022 campaign will mark the end of the Wofford careers of Lawson Hill, Clay Schwaner, John Dempsey, Brennen Dorighi, Nolen Hester, Dom Agron, Dalton Rhadans, and Josh Vitus.
Their accomplishments are too many to list, but most notably, this bunch was a part of 164 wins, greater than 750 hits, and nearly 300 K’s accrued by the pitchers of the group. It goes without saying that what they did in these last few years in old gold and black has left a huge legacy that will set the bar high and set the stage well for the future generations of Terriers to come behind them.
While I will not go into my opinion on the Terriers being left out, nor do I presume to fully understand the selection committee’s reasoning, I do have some logic to throw into the discussion. While the Terriers dominated their way through the SoCon schedule and had such a high RPI, they had 1 week that the committee likely looked at that did them in. The week of April 22-May 1, Wofford was ranked in all 3 polls and had an RPI in the top 15. But, that week, they got shellacked 17-4 on the road in a midweek game at Clemson, who failed to make the tournament. That week also the only series they lost, conference or otherwise, to Samford – a team that finished sub .500 at 28-29 and was bounced after losing to Wofford and UNC-Greensboro back to back in the SoCon tournament. You might also consider that even though UNC-Greensboro became an unstoppable juggernaut in their run from the elimination bracket to win the SoCon tournament, losing 2 in a row to them when the Terriers were the better team in the committe’s eyes also lost their respect.
Ultimately, unlike in college football, winning your conference championship is crucial, particularly for a 1 bid league mid major school. Although Wofford’s RPI was high enough all season long, they ultimately fell victim to a bubble that was as tight as it has ever been to get in.
There were many schools that did the same thing that UNC-G did and got hot at just the right time to win their conference tournaments, and then there were schools that just had better resumes.
The Southern Conference standings speak for themselves. Wofford won the regular season championship by 4 games over Mercer. There were only 4 teams in the league with an overall record over .500. When you run the table through a mid major conference like that and then lose the conference championship games in blowout fashion to a team you are better than, it is definitely incontrivertible reason for the committee to bypass you for a power 5 team from the SEC like Ole Miss, or a mid major with a better resume like Grand Canyon (who split the season series with #11 Arizona, split a mid week series with #5 Oregon State, swept a 2 game series with #4 Texas Tech, and split with #7 Stanford).
It stinks, and the bias can definitely be argued, but that doesn’t make it any less true that when it mattered most, Wofford could not come through in the clutch in either game against Greensboro when they needed just 1 win. Otherwise they would have never been in a situation where they had to rely on their RPI and resume to get in.
Regardless of how it ended, this was a magical run and a fun team to watch. I can’t help but believe that Todd Interdonato is only just getting started and has only now been giving us a slight taste of the vision he has for Wofford College baseball coming to fruition. There really is a special something brewing on our city’s northern border. Wofford is going to break through and win the SoCon one day soon. Not only that, but they will make the NCAA tournament.