On the NCAA Selection show on Monday on ESPN, it was announced that the 5th overall seed and #1 seed in the Lubbock Regional Texas Tech would play the CAA Champs University of Delaware who is the #4th seed in the regional.
Delaware has been getting hot at the right time by winning their last 10 out of their last 11 games but Texas Tech will be a real test for the Blue Hens.
Even with the Hens being hot lately, Hens Manager Jim Sherman knows this will be a tough tournament for Delaware.
“This is not an icing on the cake type of deal, we are going out there to win,” Delaware head coach Jim Sherman said. “We are in a four-team, double-elimination tournament. Our No. 1 guy Ron Marinaccio is throwing really well and we believe in him. Right now, we are swinging the bats well. We are going out there to win and anything is possible. We think we have the right team”
Coach Sherman added, “It’s always about the kids and their commitment.” “This team really has come together with all the work they have done on the field and in the classroom. That whole commitment is worthwhile, especially with winning the conference championship. It lifts our reputation another level. We always had that great reputation in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and we want to get back to that again.”
Hens fire power on offense has been pretty consistent all season with eight UD hitters batting over .300 and is led by CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Shortstop Jeremy Ake who ranks #2 in the CAA with a .359 average. Also, five Blue Hens have knocked in 40 or more runs this season while first baseman Nick Patten leads the team in 14 home runs and 52 RBIs.
The Blue Hens lead the CAA in batting with .313 average and is ranked 14th in the NCAA. The Hens also lead the CAA in ERA (4.35) and runs per game(7.5 runs per game & 16th in NCAA) which made the Hens the first CAA team to lead in all three categories since 2002.
Blue Hens first baseman Nick Patten said this about the upcoming Texas Tech match up:
“Texas Tech is a great baseball program and we are looking forward to going down there and playing Delaware Baseball,” said Patten. “We are feeling great. We’ve been getting great hitting, pitching, and defense and we showed that this past weekend. As long as we can keep doing what we do, we can go down and there and play some good ball.”
On the pitching side they are led by Ron Marinaccio who leads the CAA and ranks 14th in the nation with a 1.85 ERA. Marinaccio went 4-2 on the season with 65 strikeouts. When Marinaccio moved to the Closer role half way through the season, he had a 0.93 ERA with a 4-1 record.
Hens Marinaccio hopes the recent roll Delaware has been on will help them in the tournament.
“We are definitely playing our best baseball right now,” said Marinaccio. “It’s just baseball, so anything can happen. We are going to be on that field and expect to win. Our defense is playing well and we are hitting well. We feel confident. It’s going to be fun playing in front of a big crowd and a great atmosphere.”
This is Delaware’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in 16 years, when they competed in the Columbus, Ohio Regional at Ohio State in 2001. This is the first time the Hens will go into the tournament as CAA Champs which earned them an automatic bid.
Overall, this is the Blue Hens 17th time in the NCAA tournament.
The match up between Delaware and Texas Tech will be aired Friday on the WatchESPN app at 3pm ET. The winner will play the other winner on Saturday at 7 pm ET, of the match up between #2 Arizona and #3 Sam Houston State. The losers of the two match up will play Saturday at 3pm ET.
This is the first time in school history that Delaware will play Texas Tech, Arizona and Sam Houston State. It is also the first time since 2012 that Hens played in the State of Texas.