In there pitch­ing

Owls base­ball team still hunt­ing for NCAA tour­na­ment bid.

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Shan­del Richard­son Staff writer

BOCA RA­TON — Florida At­lantic base­ball coach John McCor­mack is only fo­cused on what his team can con­trol.

If the Owls can sweep the fi­nal reg­u­larsea­son se­ries against Western Ken­tucky, which be­gins to­day at FAU, there is a strong chance of them re­ceiv­ing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tour­na­ment. It would also make their ap­pear­ance in the Con­fer­ence USA Tour­na­ment less stress­ful with a spot al­ready se­cured.

“I’ve kind of laid it out for them and they know what’s at stake here,” McCor­mack said. “We’re go­ing to play it game by game, but they’re aware of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this se­ries.”

The Owls (34-15-1) have a small chance of adding even more suc­cess to the sea­son. They could win the reg­u­lar-sea­son con­fer­ence ti­tle if they sweep Western Ken­tucky and first-place South­ern Miss loses its fi­nal three games against Mar­shall.

While the honor would be ap­pre­ci­ated, the Owls are more con­cerned about post­sea­son pos­si­bil­i­ties af­ter miss­ing the NCAAs last year.

“It would mean ev­ery­thing,” se­nior right­fielder David Mi­randa said. “Go­ing to Omaha, that’s our first goal, but to be able to get there you first have to make the tour­na­ment … I feel con­fi­dent. We just need to do what we have to do against Western Ken­tucky.”

Mi­randa has been one of the stars this sea­son. On Mon­day, he was named Con­fer­ence USA Hit­ter of the Week for a sec­ond time. He is bat­ting a team-high .321 with

“We’re go­ing to play it game by game, but they’re aware of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this se­ries.” John McCor­mack, FAU base­ball coach

eight home runs and 36 RBIs.

“The big­gest thing is just be­ing a leader,” Mi­randa said. “Last year, I didn’t know what my role was go­ing to be. This year, com­ing back as a se­nior, I wanted not only to pro­duce of­fen­sively but also as a leader.”

Mi­randa will be among eight se­niors hon­ored be­fore Satur­day’s game. The class in­cludes pitch­ers Jake Mied­nik, Drew Pe­den, Mark Ste­wart, We­ston Cle­mente, Matt Har­ris and Mark Nowat­nick and catcher Kevin Abra­ham.

McCor­mack called it one of the best groups he’s had in his 10-year ten­ure as head coach.

“It takes on a dif­fer­ent mean­ing as the sea­son goes on,” McCor­mack said. “I talked to them of­ten about cher­ish­ing the year be­cause it might be their last op­por­tu­nity to play base­ball. It’s one of those things that I try to ex­plain it to them but it’s re­ally hard to grasp … It’s never easy when it comes to an end.”

The Owls should re­ceive a test from Western Ken­tucky be­cause of the cir­cum­stances. The Hill­top­pers (21-29) are still in con­tention for the eighth and fi­nal spot in the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment.

“They’ve had a rough go in the last four or five years, so I would think they’re go­ing to be mo­ti­vated,” McCor­mack said. “They’re also go­ing to need some help but I’m sure they know what’s at stake, too.”

If the Owls sweep, McCor­mack feels they would earn an NCAA bid be­cause of their body of work.

“I would think so,” McCor­mack said. “Our RPI is 28. We’ve won 34 games and we’re go­ing to fin­ish in the top three in a good base­ball league. I don’t see how we would get left out but you never know. … I’m not in the [se­lec­tion-com­mit­tee] room.”


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