The Florida Southern College athletic program has had its volleyball, men's swimming, women's lacrosse, and men's golf on the brink of a national championship this year, but each has fallen just shy of the ultimate goal - an NCAA Division II National Championship. Volleyball and women's lacrosse finished as national runners-up, men's golf tied for third place and men's swimming took fourth place. The Moccasin baseball team will be the latest to chase a title as FSC opens play Saturday at 7 p.m. against Southern Indiana in the NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship Tournament at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, NC.
Saturday's opening round games have #4 Southern New Hampshire (39-15) playing #5 Augustana (48-9) at 3 p.m. and #1 Florida Southern (42-9-1) facing #8 Southern Indiana (36-21) at 7 p.m. On Sunday, #3 UC San Diego (42-15) taking on #6 Texas A&M-Kingsville (41-15) at 3 p.m. and #2 Columbus State (45-13) battling #7 Mercyhurst (36-13) at 7 p.m. The double-elimination tournament runs through June 2. (Interactive bracket)
Florida Southern has only faced two of the other seven teams in the national tournament, sporting an 8-5 record against Columbus State and a 1-0 mark against Mercyhurst.
The baseball team has used the hashtag #Chasin10 this year on social media platforms as the club looks to add a 10th NCAA trophy to its crowded trophy case. The Moccasins are the top seed in the eight-team tournament and will take a 42-9-1 record into the event.
This the Moccasins' 42nd appearance in the NCAA postseason and their 21st trip to the NCAA national tournament. Overall, FSC has posted a 150-78 record in postseason play with the 42 trips and 150 wins representing the most in Division II. Florida Southern has won a Division II record nine national championships in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1985, 1988, 1995, and 2005.
Florida Southern has done it with power this season, hitting 73 homers led by junior NCBWA 2nd Team All-American Hayden Marze's 19th home runs (one shy of the school record of 20 set by Jhalan Jackson in 2015). Senior Cody Burgess and freshman Jacob Teter, the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, have both hit 12 round trippers on the season and the club has hit at least one home run in 41 of the 52 games played this season.
Florida Southern has done it with offense led by NCBWA 1st Team All-America Logan Browning's .442 average. The Moccasins rank 11th in the NCAA Division II with 8.6 runs scored per game while the team is third in the SSC with a .314 team batting average.
Florida Southern done it with pitching, led by NCBWA 2nd Team All-American J.T. Hintzen's 13-0 record. Hintzen and Browning have each recorded over 100 strikeouts as the Moccasins have posted the sixth most strikeouts in school history (462).
Florida Southern has done it with defense, boasting the third-best fielding percentage in the NCAA Division II with a .977 mark on the year.
Florida Southern has done it with a balanced starting line-up - a mixture of seasoned veterans and eager underclassmen. The infield has two freshman on the right side with Teter (.346 batting average/12 home runs/53 runs batted in) at first and Dylan Costa (.340/0/28) at second base. On the left side, senior Omar Villaman (.342/2/38) dominates the shortstop position while junior Pablo Cabrera (.304/3/35) mans the hot corner - his third different infield position in his three seasons at FSC. Behind the plate is senior Austin Mauer (.269/7/37). In the outfield, Burgess (287/12/47) takes care of center field with sophomore Christian Maglich (.324/3/20) taking over in left. In right field, Browning (.442/4/26) will start when not pitching and sophomore Vaun Brown (.253/6/32) starts when Browning is on the mound. Marze (.326/19/63) carries the bat as the team's designated hitter.
Joining Browning (9-2/3.11 ERA/105 strikeouts) and Hintzen (13-0/2.07/100) on the hill are starters J.J. Niekro (6-1/3.57/70) and Thomas Spinelli (5-3/4.28/48) with Matt Martin (4-1/5.66/37), Trevor Castell (3-2/6.26/15), Cole Crowder (0-0/7.94/24), Mike Palaez (0-0, 1.93/15) and closer Leo Rodriguez (2-0/8.53/20/7 saves) coming out of the bullpen.