Sioux Falls, SD
The SDSU baseball team lost its Summit League Championship opener last spring, but closed the weekend with four straight wins, including back-to-back shutouts of NDSU in the title tilt. A year later, the Jacks are back to defend their crown.
"The league this year has been so close. At this point, any of the four teams have the opportunity to win it," SDSU head coach Dave Schrage said.
A single game separated the top four playoff-eligible teams in the Summit League baseball standings, led by defending tournament champion SDSU at 11-11.
"It's exciting. We've been working for this all year. All the road trips, all the workouts and practices, and stuff like that. So, we're ready to play. We're ready to go," SDSU pitcher Adam Bray said.
The Jacks open championship play against rival NDSU, and the Bison is undoubtedly seeking revenge for last year's tournament losses.
"They've got a veteran lineup. Seven seniors in their lineup, and they don't forget a lot from what happened last year. So, it's going to be a heck of a ballgame," Schrage said.
"It's a big rivalry for us. SDSU versus NDSU is a big one. It's going to be tough. They're a good ball team. They can swing it a little bit. So, it's going to be fun," Bray said.
One win won't secure the Jacks a second straight championship, but their key to a successful weekend at Sioux Falls Stadium is simple.
"Our bats have to get hot. I think the team that swings it over these three days will be the team that wins it. You're going to have warm weather in a ballpark where the ball carries. So, the team that gets the bats going is the team that's going to win the tournament," Schrage said.
The winner of the Summit League Baseball Championship will advance to the NCAA Tournament, which begins May 30th at campus sites.