A first-time champion will reign over NCAA Division III baseball in 2017.
None of the eight teams headed to Appleton for the finals of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship have ever captured the title. In fact, half the field is making its first trip to the finals.
The finals, which begin Friday (May 26) at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, consist of rookie squads Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.), Concordia University Chicago, Oswego State University (N.Y.) and Roanoke College (Va.). California Lutheran University, Wheaton College (Mass.), North Central College (Ill.), and the University of Massachusetts Boston have all been to the finals before but never claimed a title.
For only the fourth time since the finals moved to Wisconsin in 2000, a team from the Badger State will not be among the final eight. This is the first time Wisconsin hasn't been represented since 2012, and it also happened in 2000 and 2001.
The teams are split into two four-team pools and pool play goes Friday through Sunday (May 26-28). The teams that emerge from pool play will play a best-of-three series that concludes on Tuesday (May 30) or Wednesday (May 31).
Friday’s opening round games in Pool A will feature fourth-seeded Concordia University Chicago (33-11) facing Washington & Jefferson College (38-11) at 10 a.m. followed by top-seeded Oswego State (32-9) opposing eighth-seeded Roanoke College (33-17) at 1:15 p.m.
Pool B games get underway at 4:30 p.m. Friday with second-seeded UMass Boston (37-10) battling seventh-seeded North Central College (29-16). Opening day concludes with third-seeded California Lutheran University (35-10) taking on Wheaton College (27-15) at 7:45 p.m.
Concordia University Chicago earned its first trip to the finals by running roughshod over the Whitewater (Wis.) Regional. The Cougars' smallest margin of victory during the regional tournament was five runs, and Concordia University Chicago finished the regional with 14-0 and 17-3 wins over UW-La Crosse to take the title.
Oswego State had to battle perennial power the University of Southern Maine at the Syracuse (N.Y.) Regional to punch its ticket to Appleton. The Lakers won three close games to start the regional to claim a spot in the title game. Southern Maine topped Oswego State University, 7-6, in the first title game, but the Lakers stopped University Southern Maine 9-4 to take the regional title.
Washington & Jefferson College (38-11) had a similar path as the Presidents won the Washington (Pa.) Regional. After winning the opening three games, Washington & Jefferson College would face another traditional power, the State University of New York at Cortland, which topped the Presidents, 7-6, to force a winner-take-all game. However, Washington & Jefferson College downed Cortland State, 6-3, for the regional crown.
Roanoke College took the Danville (Va.) Regional by defeating Salisbury University (Md.), 13-5, in the regional title game. The Maroons also got off to a 3-0 start at the regional before falling, 7-6, to Salisbury University. Roanoke College regrouped and exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning to pull away and earn a spot in the finals.
California Lutheran University is making its sixth trip to the finals, but the Kingsmen are making their first trip to Appleton. California Lutheran University, which hasn't played in the finals since 1999, went unbeaten at the Tyler (Texas) Regional. The Kingsmen took the title with a 9-7 victory over Concordia University Texas.
Wheaton College won a 1-0 nail-biter over Shenandoah University (Va.) in the York (Pa.) Regional title game. The Lyons got a shutout from pitcher Mike Bruemmel to earn their first trip to Appleton since 2012 and their third overall. Wheaton College made its first appearance in the finals in 2006.
UMass Boston is making its second trip to the finals and its first since coming to Appleton in 2010. The Beacons won the Harwich (Mass.) Regional with an 11-8 win over Babson College (Mass.).
North Central College is returning to the finals for the first time since 1987 after winning the Sauget (Ill.) Regional. The Cardinals were a perfect 4-0 in the regional and claimed the title with a 3-2, 11-inning victory over Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) in the championship game.
The NCAA Division III Baseball Championship is being held at Fox Cities Stadium for the 18th consecutive year. Lawrence University, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau are hosts for the event.