Three Iowa teams take part in an NAIA region baseball tournament beginning Tuesday in La Crosse, Wisconsin. After winning the Midwest Classic Conference regular season title St. Ambrose is the top seed but coach Jim Callahan says that means little in the postseason. The Fighting Bees take on the six seed Olivet Nazarene. Callahan says the region is very strong and he expects Olivet to be just as strong as the top seed.
Pitching will be a key and Callhan says to get to this point every team has a good staff. He says you have to have at least four good guys to compete, and he says his team has six. Callahan says handling a pitching staff in a tournament is not the same as the regular season. He says you know you’re in a four-day tournament, and the games move from seven to nine innings, so you have to rest your bullpen early.
St. Ambrose finished the regular season by winning 12 of its last 14 games. Mount Mercy is seeded third and opens tomorrow night against St. Francis. The Mustangs finished second in the conference race and along with St. Ambrose did not need to play in last weekend’s conference tournament. Mount Mercy coach Desi Druschel says he is glad his team had a bit of a layoff. He says you worry about a layoff for your hitters, but he says he’d rather have the time off than playing in the conference tournament.
Druschel says good starting pitching is a must in tournament play. He says they don’t have a true number one, but have three guys who’re are pretty equal. He says he’ll pitch Tim Abbott in the first game.
Druschel says you need to avoid an early trip to the losers bracket. He says that makes the first game big, because you then have to play one less game. Iowa Wesleyan plays Tuesday afternoon against St. Xavier.