NC State will face Lemoyne College of Syracuse, N.Y., in its first-round match-up. The Dolphins (33-15) earned an automatic berth in the tournament by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship on Saturday. LeMoyne is making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1989.
The team's offensive attack is led by MAAC Tournament MVP Eddie Harper, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs to lead LeMoyne to the conference championship with an 8-4 win over Marist. Harper is second on the team in hitting behind junior right fielder Jeff Justice with a .361 batting average.
Virginia Commonwealth (44-11) swept the competition in the Colonial Athletic Conference Tournament and went 4-0 en route to the title to claim the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Rams, seeded No. 2 in Wilson, are making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last six years and enter the weekend having won 11 straight contests and 19 of their last 20.
Junior pitcher and CAA Tournament MVP Matt Prendergrast, who improved to 7-0 and struck out a career-high 14 batters against George Mason in the CAA championship game on Saturday, is the staff ace. The team's starting rotation is a combined 27-7, and the staff as a whole has a 2.65 ERA on the season. Rams slugger Nick Jones, a first-team CAA selection, is batting .372 and has knocked in 49 runs. He leads the team in at-bats, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
Western Carolina (41-19) is making its 10th NCAA appearance and first since 1997 after defeating Georgia Southern for the Southern Conference championship and earning that league's automatic bid. The Catamounts, seeded No. 3, were the top seed in the SoCon Tournament after claiming the regular-season title with a 22-8 conference record. WCU won an 11-inning nail-bitter Sunday in Charleston and was led by Tournament MVP Brian Sigmon, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs on the day.
WCU is led by SoCon Player of the Year Alan Beck, who leads the team with 18 home runs and is second on the team behind fellow SoCon first-teamer Rod Goldston with a .338 batting average. Goldston is batting .353 entering the NCAA Tournament and has 25 doubles on the year.
Virginia Commonwealth and Western Carolina will square off in the regional opener at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 30, followed by NC State and LeMoyne at 7 p.m. There will be three games on Saturday, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The championship round will be Sunday beginning at 1 p.m., with a second game if necessary following 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.