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Hatters Prepare for NCAA Tournament
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  05/31/2007
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by: Steve Simoneau
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(Tallahassee, Fla.) The Stetson baseball program begins its 16th NCAA Regional against Mississippi State at 1:00 p.m. Friday afternoon at Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  The Hatters enter this weekend’s Regional as the No. 3 seed, matching the highest NCAA seeding in Stetson’s post-season history. 

Friday’s match-up features two teams who struggled down the stretch.  Stetson (41-19) went 3-6 over the season’s final nine games while Mississippi State (33-20) won just two of its last 10.  The Bulldogs secured the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s Regional, while participating their 24th NCAA Tournament. 

 

"Recently down the stretch we have stumbled more than anytime during the year," Dunn said.  "We hope that the layoff between the conference tournaments last week and the regionals starting tomorrow will get us back on track.  Our hitters have been a little bit slow with the bats which is a sign of fatigue, so we hope that this little bit of a layoff will help that."

 

Surprisingly, this will be the first ever meeting between Stetson and Mississippi State.  However, there is a strong connection between the two schools.  MSU coach Ron Polk gave Stetson coach Pete Dunn his first coaching job in 1972 when Polk was the head coach at Georgia Southern. 

 

"I did go up as grad assistant up there and had the opportunity to learn and coach under Ron," Dunn said. "We were also privileged in ’73 to get to the College World Series with the Georgia Southern Club so Ron is certainly very near and dear to my heart as a coach."

 

Dunn eventually took over at Stetson in 1980 and the two coaches have amassed a total of 2,388 wins between them.  Polk is the 7th winningest coach in NCAA history, while Dunn ranks as the 11th winningest active coach in college baseball. 

 

The Hatters are looking to win a regional for the first time in school history.  Stetson is also attempting to snap a 5-game NCAA Tournament losing streak, dating back to 2003.  The last two years, with Stetson as a No. 4 seed, the Hatters lost their only games in regional play. 

 

Mississippi State is a tournament mainstay and has hosted 11 Regionals, though none since 2003.  Last year they traveled to Clemson, S. C. and in 2005 were placed in Coral Gables, Fla.  The Bulldogs were tough at home in 2007, posting a 22-8 record but put together an 11-12 record outside of Starkville, Miss.  MSU holds a 67-51 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play. 

 

At Thursday's press conference Dunn announced that Chris Ingoglia would start Stetson's opening game, not Corey Kluber, who had served as the Hatters No. 1 starter all season. 

 

"We really like the lefty matchup against Ron’s club so we will start Ingoglia against Ron tomorrow," Dunn said.  "It’s tough, we sat down as a staff and we had to make sure all of us were on the same page but we just like the matchup better and sometimes reputations are great, accolades are great, but you got to look at the match up and go with your gut."

 

The remaining tournament field includes host Florida State (47-11) and Bethune-Cookman (33-25).  They will play at 7:00 p.m. Friday night.  The two winners will then play at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, with the two losing schools squaring off in an elimination game at 1:00 p.m. 

 

While the Hatters are thrilled to participate in the school's 16th NCAA Tournament, Dunn is not content just to be there.

 

"Our club has been to enough regionals now that our next step is to win a regional.  We’ve been close, we were here a number years ago where we were one game off of Omaha when they instituted the Super Regional and we played the final game to go to Omaha right here in this stadium and we’ve been close and we’ve been in the finals several times but for this club and our program we’ve got to get over the hump.  So coming in here, we're not coming in to win a game, we're coming in to win a regional."

 

Free live audio of Stetson’s games will be available on www.gohatters.com by clicking on the Live Events tab. 

 

Tickets are available by calling 1-888-FSU-Nole. 



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