In most sports the SCIAC does well to get two teams from the conference in the playoffs so it was a pleasant surprise that three have been selected to the double-elimination Division III West Regional to be hosted by East Texas Baptist starting Thursday.
The University of Redlands (30-10) got the automatic bid by winning the four-team conference tournament but the Bulldogs also won the regular season. They will be the No. 4 seed in the seven-team event.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (28-14), the SCIAC tournament runner-up), received the No. 6 seed while the University of La Verne (28-18) is the No. 7.
“I’m very excited that we got three teams in and all are deserving,” Redlands coach Laurie Nevarez said. “I think we’re going to surprise some people.”
Athenas coach Betsy Hipple agrees.
“The object is to take the best teams in the West Region,” she said. “I don’t see how you can not take all three teams.”
Joining host and No. 3 seed East Texas Baptist (37-7) are top-seed Linfield, Ore. (36-4), No. 2 Louisiana College (36-7) and No. 5 Texas-Tyler (34-8), which hosted the event in 2008.
As surprising as the fact that three SCIAC teams got in is that three got in and Redlands still was not awarded the right to host. The school did submit a bid and the NCAA typically gives that honor based on finanical concerns. The fewer teams that need to fly, the better.
Even though the three SCIAC teams are closer in proximity, four teams were going to have to fly in to either location.
“They were ranked higher than we were most of the season so I guess they didn’t think they could take it away from them,” Nevarez said.
La Verne was the second seed in the SCIAC tournament but lost a 13-inning game to CMS in the loser’s bracket that resulted in their elimination.
What likely helped get the Leopards in was a 5-4 win over Linfield, the No. 1 ranked in the country. Five of the seven in the field are ranked with East Texas at No. 3, Louisiana at 11, Texas-Tyler at 14 and Redlands at No. 25.
The teams will leave today and practice at the venue on Wednesday.
Division II men’s golf
The University of Redlands will join the University of La Verne at the Division III national tournament which starts May 13 at the PGA Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
La Verne, ranked second nationally, was the SCIAC’s automatic qualifier. Redlands received one of just two at-large bids handed out.
The Bulldogs success on the national stage seems to warrant that as they have finished as the national runner-up four of the last five years. The year that Redlands didn’t go, 2007, La Verne was the runner-up giving the conference a streak of five straight second-place finishers.
“We’re glad to get the chance to go again,” Redlands coach Art Salvesen said. “Winning the conference is nice but it isn’t our main goal.
Redlands is ranked ninth nationally. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is No. 12 and had a shot at earning an at-large bid as well but the Bulldogs likely secured a bid by finishing one spot ahead of the Stags at the SCIAC 36-hole tournament, the last event of the regular season.
Methodist (N.C.) is ranked No. 1 but Salvesen likes La Verne’s chances.
“I think they’re the team to beat, I really do,” he said. “They’re talented and have some veteran players that have been there before.”
It will be the first time La Verne has made the trip without veteran coach Rex Huigens, Salvensen’s close friend, who retired after last season. The Leopards are now coached by Joe Skovron, a former player at the school.
The Panthers (29-13) drew the No. 18 seed and will travel to No. 15 Ventura (26-16) for a first round playoff game at 2 p.m. today. It will be the sixth straight playoff appearance for coach Jeff Harlow’s team.
The Panthers finished third in the Foothill Conference behind Mt. San Jacinto (31-10) and Rio Hondo (24-16) which drew the No. 7 and No. 16 seeds respectively.
“It was pretty much what I expected,” Harlow said. “We had the highest RPI of the teams in the Southern region so we deserved to get in. We had a good practice yesterday (Sunday) so the guys are ready and excited.”
Freshman right-hander Colby Gurney (10-0), out of Alta Loma High School, will get the start for the Panthers.
CMS women’s lacrosse
The Athenas (12-1) were selected for the 26-team NCAA field and will travel to Cortland State for a first-round game on Wednesday.
CMS has qualified for the NCAA Championships three straight years. The team is led by the scoring trio of sophomore Sarah Dick (41 goals), senior Courtney Cronin (41 goals) and junior Colbi Brawner (40 goals).