|Washington and Jefferson is one of four teams who are making their first trip to the D-III Series with the field with a combined nine previous trips to the final series.
W&J photo by William Wallace
The 2017 edition of the NCAA DIII World Series will feature a lot of new faces with everyone starting on the same footing. Four of the eight teams will be taking the field for the first time in program history with only Cal Lutheran and Wheaton (Mass.) making more than one previous trip to the championship round.
Nobody is going to have the advantage of having been here three or four times and knows what to expect," said Concordia-Chicago head coach Mike Stawski. "There are eight really good teams here and seven will go home without a championship. It will be a battle."
Mass-Boston and Wheaton (Mass.), both returning to Appleton for another shot at the title with teams new to the College World Series, discounted how knowing the lay of the land will be beneficial to their chances.
We are excited to be back," said Mass-Boston head coach Brendan Eygabroat. "It is a different feeling the second time. Not as overwhelming. We did not get out of the gates really great but have not lost two in a row since the first week in April and are playing really good ball.
"I am not sure how much carryover there is," said Wheaton head coach Eric Podbelski. "It is a brand new team, all new guys and they are experiencing it for the first time. Hopefully we will continue to play good baseball like we are able to and see where it takes us."
One of those rookie teams that faced long odds getting here are the Roanoke Maroons. Roanoke head coach Matt McGuire acknowledged the toughness of the trip through the ODAC conference and regional tournaments.
"It has been awesome, it has been an incredible ride, it has been a fun ride, it has been a tough ride," said McGuire. Our guys have stayed confident and loose to get to the next game.
The team that has been to the DIII World Series the most often is Cal Lutheran in their sixth trip to the final series but are in Appleton for the first time with a team that reminds Cal Lutheran head coach Marty Slimak of the teams that have made two previous appearances in the championship game.
"It has been a while since Cal Lu has been here, said Slimak. "Back in the '90s we were rolling but you may never get back here again. This team reminds me of those from the earlier years. We are not that big but have a good clubhouse. We have had more talented teams but you have to play for each other. This team has been playing for each other and the clubhouse is good. We have a chance."
One thing that is not new this year is that Fox Cities stadium will host for the 18th time in a run that will end after next year's College World Series. Washington and Jefferson head coach Jeff Mountain was here before and raved about the stadium.
"With a good practice in, I think the players will enjoy the facility," said Mountain. "It is in great shape and better than the year I was here."
Keeping the game the fun and memorable will be a key with every player new to the experience and was a common theme with the eight head coaches that have brought teams here.
"I want them to be excited as they deserve it," said Oswego head coach Scott Landers. ""It is a good feeling and they have to take it all in, but Friday be ready to play baseball."
Stawski also stressed keeping the game fun for his players.
"The difference has been that they come into the park expecting to win and have fun doing it," said Stawski. "They are not putting any more pressure on themselves than they need to."
North Central head coach Ed Mathey knows the trip here will be a memorable one for his players.
"It is an exciting time for these kids," said Mathey. "The last time North Central was in this thing, I was not a member of the team but a lot of my teammates were. I know how they talked about those days. These guys will have those memories in the future for themselves and I am excited for them. For me it it is great since I know what this means and is a tremendous accomplishment."
No matter the experience of the teams or the players, Mountain sums it up. "If we can go and play, baseball is baseball. If we go and play we will be in good shape."