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Posted May 12, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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SU baseball makes NCAA tourney
By Jeremy Stafford -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- For the first time ever, the Shenandoah baseball team will be competing in the NCAA Division 3 Baseball Championships.
Named to the 54-team tournament early Monday morning, the Hornets' berth in the national postseason tournament marks the first time a Shenandoah team has advanced past the USA South Conference tournament since the football team did it in 2004.
For Hornets coach Kevin Anderson, who is in his sixth year at Shenandoah, the Hornets' berth into the double-elimination tournament is only fitting considering his teams' record-setting season.
"A lot of people had a part in this, from the top right on down," Anderson said. "This is big for the community, and this team is comprised of a bunch of great young men."
Coming off of a 20-20 season in 2008, Shenandoah is now 33-8 and has set schools records in runs scored (448), hits (509), runs batted in (375), and a multitude of single-game categories.
The Hornets' explosive offense has propelled Shenandoah to the No. 2 seed in the South Regional bracket, where the Hornets will play No. 7 seed Johns Hopkins University (24-14) on Wednesday at 7:45 at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Md.
"I think people are starting to recognize the accomplishments of these young men," Anderson said. "If there's eight regions and we're a two seed, that means you're in the top 16 in the country.
"From where we were to the players getting us to where we are, that's a huge shot in the arm."
The Hornets are now ranked 18th in the nation.
The 54 teams comprise the tournament's eight regions: the Mideast, Central, New England, Mid-Atlantic, West, South, New York, and Midwest Regionals. Each region is made of six teams, except for the South, Mid-Atlantic, and New England Regionals, which have eight teams.
The winner of each region will go on to play in the eight-team World Series.
Shenandoah will be joined by top-seeded Salisbury University in the South Regional, and is also accompanied by USA South rivals N.C. Wesleyan and Christopher Newport, which are seeded third and fourth, respectively.
N.C. Wesleyan, by virtue of defeating Shenandoah in the USA South Conference championship, received one of the 35 automatic bids.
Shenandoah and Christopher Newport both entered the tournament as one of the 13 at-large teams.
Should Shenandoah beat Johns Hopkins in the first round, the Hornets will continue on in the region's winner's bracket at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday. If the Hornets lose, they will fall into the loser's bracket and play at 1:15 p.m. on the same day.
For Anderson, Shenandoah's tournament berth is only the beginning of what he expects to be a long stint as a regional contender.
"This team has never been in the NCAA regionals," Anderson said. "It was a huge step to get there, and now it's going to be a huge step to win it."
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