Bearkats Are Tournament Bound
by Cheval John
There’s always a first time for everything.
For the Sam Houston State (SHSU) Bearkat baseball team, it couldn’t come at a better time.
After coming up short in the Southland Conference (SLC) Baseball Post-Season Tournament in the semifinals against eventual champion, University Of Texas-Arlington, they received an at-large bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
It will be the seventh time that the Bearkats will participate in the tournament in their 26 years of competition at the NCAA Division I level.
The last six appearances were results of winning post-season tournaments in the Gulf Star Conference (1987) and SLC (1996, 2007, 2008, 2009).
The latter did not hold a post-season tournament until 1992.
The Bearkats, under first year head coach David Pierce, compiled an overall record of 38-20 and an SLC record of 24-9.
In the process, they won the SLC regular season title for the first time since 1989.
Everything went right for them this past season as their Rate Percentage Index (RPI) was 49th in the country.
The NCAA baseball selection committee uses this formula to choose who would get one of the 34 at-large bids for the tournaments.
The rest of the slots are filled with teams that have won either their respective conference regular season titles or post-season titles.
The majority of the bids goes to teams who are members these conferences depending on if they have a winning record and a higher RPI: Big Ten, Pacific 12 (PAC 12), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12, and the Big East.
Teams from a mid-major conferences like the Southland Conference have an opportunity to get in if they have won their respective post-season tournament because their RPI is normally low in the rankings.
The Bearkats, however, was ranked 49th in RPI because of competition against top ranked RPI teams like Baylor (#4), Texas A&M (#8), Rice (#11), Dallas Baptist (#22) and San Diego (#28).
They also won the majority of their conference series that included three straight weekend sweeps that began with last year’s defending SLC regular season and post-season champs Texas State.
Their only series loss would come against, you guess it, UTA.
The Kats have come a long way this year because with three returning starters and a new head coach, they were projected to finish sixth in the SLC and now they are heading to the NCAA tournament.
The Bearkats begin tournament play on Friday at 1 p.m. against the University of Arkansas in the Houston regional hosted by Rice University.
Here is a video of the reaction of the Bearkat Baseball Players receiving the news of their at-large bid.