Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

USF baseball to open NCAA tourney in DeLand

The Bulls are the No. 2 seed in the DeLand regional, where they could face top seed Stetson for a third time
USF's players watch the NCAA Tournament selection show Monday. The Bulls are the No. 2 seed in the DeLand region. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
USF's players watch the NCAA Tournament selection show Monday. The Bulls are the No. 2 seed in the DeLand region. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published May 28, 2018
Updated May 29, 2018

When their name didn't pop up on the four-team bracket for the Gainesville region during Monday's NCAA Tournament selection show, USF's players whooped and roared their approval.

Same reaction when the Tallahassee region — also bereft of the Bulls — was announced.

"We just feel confident going anywhere," said junior 3B David Villar, whose team has been sent to Gainesville for each of their last two NCAA appearances. "But…a change of scenery is always good."

Hence the raucous cheer inside the North 30th Sports Pub & Grille, a brisk jog from the USF campus, when the Bulls were announced as the No. 2 seed the for DeLand region, home to 18th-ranked Stetson.

Change of scenery indeed. For the Bulls (35-20-1), this one clearly offers a more favorable view of the tournament's second weekend.

"We're thrilled," first-year coach Billy Mohl said.

"We're all really excited," Villar added. "We didn't know if we were gonna go to Florida or Florida State. Stetson's a little bit of a surprise, but we're happy. It's definitely something we can win."

By avoiding the No. 1-ranked Gators (42-17) and fifth-ranked 'Noles (43-17), the Bulls were spared having to face the tournament's No. 1 and 7 overall national seeds, respectively, in a regional.

By contrast, they go to the home field of the No. 11 overall seed for this weekend's four-team double-elimination regional. USF opens Friday at 1 p.m. against No. 3-seeded Oklahoma State. (Hartford is the No. 4 seed).

Stetson (45-11) defeated USF twice by five total runs in two mid-week games earlier this season, when the Bulls didn't use their normal Friday or Saturday starting pitchers.

Then again, neither did Stetson, which leads the nation in team ERA (2.58).

"They have a really good pitching staff," said Mohl, whose team reached the semifinals of last week's American Athletic Conference tournament. "They're one of the tops in the country in every statistical category, but this time we get to face them with our weekend guys and we're looking forward to that matchup."

As the No. 1 overall seed, Florida — the reigning national champion — also would host a three-team super regional if it prevails in its region (which includes Jacksonville, FSU and Columbia). FSU also would host a super regional if it can win its four-team regional against Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Samford.