Trinity Tigers Baseball team at the NCAA Div III Championship Tournament. Photo courtesy of Trinity University.

This weekend marks the Trinity University Tigers baseball team’s second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship tournament. They came into the tournament ranked second, and started things off with a decisive 8-0 shutout over third-ranked University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The win put Trinity at 40-7, tying their record of 40 wins in a season for the third time in four years. In spite of significant rain delays after the third inning, the team’s performance was consistent even into the late night (the game ended around midnight, after a 3:30 p.m. start). Trinity pitchers Ryan Gray, Kevin Flores, and Gianfranco Filippini held the division’s leading offensive team to a game batting average under .300.

“I was really proud of the concentration level,” said Head Coach Tim Scannell.

Trinity Baseball Runner
Trinity Baseball player Nick Jewett takes off after a ball is hit. Photo courtesy of Trinity University.

Over the holiday weekend eight teams will compete in a double elimination tournament, with the top two teams playing for the best out of three on May 31 and June 1.

Competition is fierce. One of Trinity’s main strengths is their experience, according to Scannell, but several other teams are just as strong in that regard.

Scannell is counting on the team’s other strengths, namely their strong batting record and infield defense.

“Our offensive depth is big. We can start an inning from any spot in the lineup,” Scannell said. “I don’t think a lot of teams can do that.”

Statistically, Trinity leads the nation in three team categories: doubles (140), doubles per game (3.04), and slugging percentage (.554). The Tigers are ranked second in batting average (.352), runs scored (415), sacrifice flies (37), hits allowed per nine innings (7.58), and win-loss percentage (.848). Trinity is third in scoring (9.0 runs per game), hits (578), and home runs (48). The Tiger pitching staff is fourth in ERA, at 2.81.

“There are no breaks in the lineup, which makes it hard for opposing pitchers. It’s going to be a good one. There should be some good baseball play,” said Assistant Coach J.C. Bunch, a former Trinity baseball player.

Scannell said the biggest challenge will be to stay focused throughout the tournament. With all the rain delays, the Tiger’s game scheduled for May 28 has been moved to the 29th at 11 a.m., and the time will likely be moved more than once before they take the field on Sunday. While it gives the exhausted team a much needed day off, it also allows more time to “peek ahead,” and Scannell wants to the Tigers to stay in the moment.

Scannell himself has been named the D3baseball.com West Region Coach of the Year for the second consecutive time, and players have garnered several national distinctions as well. The Tigers’ leading hitter Jeremy Wolf is the the national leader in doubles (28) and doubles per game (0.61).

“We feel the longer we can stay alive in a tournament, the stronger we’ll get. But all of this is just words. You gotta go play the game,” Scannell said.

Trinity catcher Drew Butler. Photo courtesy of Trinity University.
Trinity catcher Drew Butler prepares to throw a long ball. Photo courtesy of Trinity University.

Because the school is known for its alumni’s high academic achievements and entrepreneurial endeavors, one might miss the continual excellence of their athletics program. Trinity’s athletic program continues to hold strong, even without the recruiting tool of athletic scholarships. As a Division III school, Trinity cannot offer athletic scholarships; however, athletes are eligible for other merit scholarships, which they must maintain.

According to NCAA:

“Division III is also the only division that does not award athletic scholarships; however, more than 75 percent of Division III student-athletes receive financial aid or have earned a merit scholarship for academic talent and accomplishment.”

Most Division III athletes are not groomed to be pros, but are talented scholar athletes who play for the love of the game and their school, while maintaining necessary GPAs in pursuit of their educational goals.

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

Top image:Trinity Tigers Baseball team at the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Photo courtesy of Trinity University.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.