Sunday night was NCAA Selection Sunday for Division II baseball as the association selected the best programs in division II to participate in the Regionals. Three teams from the state of Georgia qualified, including two powerhouse schools in the always competitive Peach Belt Conference.
Albany State earned an automatic qualification as the winners of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while Georgia College earned an automatic berth as winners of the Peach Belt Conference. Columbus State, consistently a top 25 team throughout the season, also earned an at-large bid into the regionals.
Albany State was assigned to the South Regional, held in Lakeland, Florida, hosted by Florida Southern. Albany State (28-16) has been an impressive story — upsetting Tampa, who most recently, was ranked #1 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association, in the conference championship. Tampa, as you might imagine, won the regular season title, but Albany State — rather unexpectedly — tore through their conference tournament, claiming the automatic berth.
The Golden Rams success seems like a huge upset, especially against a D2 powerhouse like Tampa, but the victory was far from a surprise to the team, who had won 12 of their last 13 conference games to conclude the season, including four straight in the SIAC conference tournament. In fact, Albany State took two of three from Tampa earlier of the year in regular season play, handing Tampa one of their very few losses this season (another one of their losses, came at the hands of Peach Belt Conference champion, Georgia College, earlier this year).
Interestingly enough for Albany State, they are slated to face off against Tampa in the first round of the upcoming regional at Florida Southern. Despite taking down Tampa in the conference tournament, Albany State was given the #7 (last) seed in the South Regional. Tampa is the #2 seed, while Florida Southern — the #1 team — receives a bye. We’ll see if they have one last upset up their sleeve for Tampa as they’ve been one of the few teams who have been able to handle the team this year.
Joining Tampa, Albany State, and Florida Southern in the South Regional is Nova Southeastern, Montevallo, Delta State, and Mississippi College.
Georgia College, the owners of the PBC’s best record (setting a new all-time best program conference record) and winners of this past weekend’s PBC tournament (taking down USC Aiken in the title game), will shockingly be the #2 seed in the Southeast Regional, hosted by North Greenville (a team GC beat 7-0 in February). Earlier on, it appeared that GC would be destined to host the regional as they have consistently been ranked in the top 5 in national polling (even ranking #1 in this past weekend’s poll). Nonetheless, North Greenville will host and receive a bye in the 7-team regional, which also features Columbus State, whom GC defeated two games-to-one just a few weeks back. Columbus State will be the four-seed in the region, which also includes Belmont Abbey, UNC Pembroke (PBC team), Wingate, and Lincoln Memorial.
GC and CSU were long believed to have the potential for a long postseason run in the NCAA playoffs, but it’d be worth it to keep an eye of red-hot Albany State, too. They’ve been at the top of their game as of late and in baseball, all it takes is a good run at the right time to go all the way. Good luck to all three Georgia D2 teams in the NCAA Regionals!