Raleigh Roundup

RALEIGH, N.C. – William and Mary meets Ole Miss in game one of the Regional here Friday at 2 p.m. ET. Left-handed Tribe pitcher Josh Inghram, who will start, is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Rebel hitters.

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And he knows it will be a challenge facing a Southeastern Conference team, even one that has had difficulty with lefties from time to time. Inghram said he wasn't aware of that, if that's indeed the case.

"They're obviously a quality team from a quality conference, and we're excited to see what we can do against them," said Inghram, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound sophomore for the 37-22 Tribe.

But Inghram, as with any competitor, believes his team is up to the task of winning the game and moving on to Saturday 1-0 in this tournament. Game two Friday features host and top seed North Carolina State (44-14) against fourth-seeded Binghamton (30-23).

"We actually are capable of doing a lot of damage here, and we're excited to get going," said Inghram, who has a season's ERA of 3.46 and a record of 8-6, along with 15 appearances, all starts, in 96.1 innings pitched.

Inghram is not the third-seeded Tribe's ace. He's a hard-throwing lefty that leads their team in strikeouts with 96 but also in wild pitches with nine.

"My approach, as with any good pitcher, is to get ahead of hitters and use my out pitches as best I can," he said as he prepared to face the 37-22 and second-seeded Rebels. "Work with what they're giving you the first couple of at-bats, and try to work off of that later in the game. It's key for me to get ahead of guys."

First-year William and Mary head coach Jamie Pinzino said he's looking forward to Inghram giving his team a chance to win against Ole Miss.

"Jason's had a great year for us. He's been one of the big reasons we're playing here this weekend," Pinzino said. "We have all the confidence in the world he can go out there and give us a chance to win. I know it will be a challenge for him against Ole Miss, which is obviously a really good ball club."

Jason Inghram
File Photo

"I'm pretty excited but you have to treat it like any other game, a normal weekend where you're going to prepare for that team," Inghram said. "Just go out there and pitch like I have all season and give us a chance to win."

New Ground For Old School

The Tribe is making its first at-large NCAA Tournament appearance in baseball. The other two times William and Mary baseball made the field, in 1983 and 2001, they were conference champions and an automatic qualifier.

This season they made it in, along with two other Colonial Athletic Association teams, even after losing 5-2 to Towson in the finals of the league's tournament last weekend.

William and Mary, the second oldest college in America after Harvard, tied the school record for wins this season with 37 - so far.

"Hopefully we've taken a step forward here, and it's a sign of things to come over the next few years," Pinzino said. "For us and (UNC) Wilmington to get in (the NCAA field) only happens because of what some of the other teams in the conference did. Those teams that finished in the middle of the pack in the conference and even the back half, they had good records and played quality schedules. So hopefully as a conference we're moving in the right direction as well."

Pinzino was at William and Mary last season as an assistant, so he believes that was a boost to the transition this year as he took over as head coach.

"I think I had a little bit of an advantage, being here last year as the pitching coach," he said. "Having worked with these guys on a first-hand basis, it was a little easier of an adjustment as coaches and as players. That was huge, and I can't say enough things about how these guys have bought in, particularly the seniors and the leaders. It's been outstanding and made things very easy."

The Tribe hits .296 as a team and is led in that department by sophomore infielder Michael Katz, who bats .365 and leads the team in home runs with five. He's tied at 47 in the RBI department with co-leader junior infielder Ryan Lindemuth, whose batting average is just behind Katz at .363.

Moving Past The Disappointment

One of the big storylines from Raleigh this week was the disappointment the Wolfpack had for being passed over as a national seed. It seems that three days after the announcement, that disappointment had faded somewhat and had been traded in for a focus to win their own Regional and play on.

Coach Elliott Avent
Jeff Roberson

"This team is good enough to do that," NCSU head coach Elliott Avent said of N.C. State getting to Omaha for the College World Series for the first time since 1968. "This team is good enough to win a national championship. But there's a road to travel to get there. A lot of things happen on that road. We've been down that road many times. We've broken some hearts, and we've had our hearts broken.

"But I think we'll play well. We've had a great week of practice. We've played well the last half of the season."

Avent, whose team faces Binghamton at 7 p.m. ET Friday, pointed to his pitchers, mainly his bullpen, for lifting his ballclub to this point.

"When we started the season, it looked like the starting pitching was where we were going to hang our hat," Avent said. "(Ace starter) Carlos (Rodon) started out a little slow, but maybe that goes along with taking the fall off. Maybe you don't get your arm in shape as you would have had you not taken the fall off. But we felt like that was what he needed to do for him.

"So we tinkered with some starting rotations," he continued. "And we all know you're going to need four or five starters, and we're all trying to figure out who those are. We kept going to our bullpen early, and they just kept delivering with so many people. We had a lot of people who could close, a lot who could come in early. They're just so versatile. It's not only a great bullpen, they can just do so many things, and they've been so good for us."

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