NC State knows firsthand how hard it is to win in the NCAA Tournament, but then winning during the regular season was no walk in the park either.
The Wolfpack had one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, with ACC league play fortifying a solid non-conference slate that included a road matchup versus the number two seed in the Raleigh Regional, Coastal Carolina, back in February. NC State prevailed, 13-10.
There was little respite during conference play. The Pack opened with Boston College and the Eagles took two-of-three on the road. It is a series loss that seemed disturbing to some early but with Boston College reaching the NCAA Tournament now accentuates the gauntlet NC State faced in order to host a Regional.
Then with the hijinks of the ACC Baseball Championship, which included a loss on a ninth inning homer and a win after the apparent final out was dropped in center field, the waters were muddied once again as to whether the Wolfpack would get to stay home or have to travel in the postseason.
“There was some doubt put out there by the media but personally our team stayed confident,” Brock Deatherage said. “We knew we had the hardest schedule in the country, really strong RPI, we beat a lot of teams in the top-50 so overall we were confident that we were going to host here.”
Prior to the league tournament, NC State closed the regular season with matchups against eventual NCAA Tournament teams in three of the final four weekend series.
Saint Mary’s and Navy will join Coastal Carolina as the three teams visiting Raleigh this weekend. The fourth-seeded Midshipmen will square off with the Wolfpack Friday at 7 p.m.
“Obviously, Coastal [Carolina] is the two-seed,” Andrew Knizner said. “We beat them earlier this year so we kind of know what they have. That should be, if it comes down to it, a good matchup for us. They are a very good team. Navy is the four-seed, I think they have got a pretty good pitching staff.”
The Wolfpack was 4-9 overall in the month of May but the players remain confident heading into the Regional and the success of reaching the postseason as a host school despite the challenging regular season schedule is a big reason why.
“We played so many good teams and even in the tournament with Miami and Florida State and Georgia Tech, it doesn’t get much better than the teams we have played lately,” Chance Shepard said. “We are ready to go. It has prepared us as much as we can be prepared.”