May 7, 2010

By Sara Weber
Special to NCAA.com


UCSD RETURNS TO TOP SPOT IN ALL THREE POLLS, SETS SCHOOL RECORDS

UC San Diego Tritons are the top team in all three polls

The UCSD Tritons (45-6, 35-5 CCAA) are the nation's top-ranked team in all three Division II polls this week: NCAA-II coaches Poll, NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) Poll, and the PING! Poll. They moved into the top spot after last week's number one, Central Missouri (42-7, 34-6 MIAA) lost two of four to Nebraska- Omaha (32-16, 28-12 MIAA) in the final week of regular season competition.

UCSD set program records for wins in a season with 45 and a whopping 476 runs scored in a single season. They are currently on an 11-game winning streak and are 19-1 on the road. They will be the top seed in the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament beginning May 6 in Stockton, CA. They are hoping to repeat last year's feat of winning the CCAA and the West Region to go to the NCAA Division II Championship Series. They want to avenge last year's semi-final loss.

Q & A with UCSD Head Coach Dan O'Brien

Since UCSD has been hovering near the top of the polls all season and playing their hearts out in the West, we (NCAA.COM) decided to do a little Q&A with their head coach, Dan O'Brien, who is in his 13th season and is an UCSD graduate. He was also just named CCAA Coach of the Year, it was announced by the conference office this week.

Q: How do you feel about the upcoming CCAA Conference tournament and what is your main focus for your team overall?

A: I'm really excited about the year we've had and our main focus is to get back to Cary, NC. We lost the national semi-final last year and we want to return and finish the job this year.

Q: How do you feel about being number one in all the polls and the recent records the team has broken?

A: We need to keep playing and not get wrapped up in any talk about the national rankings. Records are exciting, but we need to put forth a well-balanced effort and put ourselves in a spot where we can win. The national championship is not played at home. Our team of veterans wants to return to Cary finish what was started last year.

Photo Courtesy of UCSD Athletics
Q: Talk about your team a little and their chemistry?

A: We have a well-balanced team and all four pitchers can be number one's at any time. Five different players have seven homeruns each. Our shortstop (Vance Albitz) has two gold gloves, unheard of in college, and he was the national defensive player of the year last year; he is in the middle of our team, the "heart and soul." Our team leads the nation in defense and we bat .377 as a team.

Q: Overall feeling going into the postseason?

A: When we get off the bus, we have a presence. We play with passion and care a lot about each other. We don't rely on other teams to have a bad day, we rely on each other. We have a mission to finish what was started in 2009, to win a national championship.

Conference Tournaments this week:

GSC - Gulf South Conference
Hosted by Delta State after the original location Millington, TN was flooded
Delta State's Ferriss Field, Cleveland, Miss. May 3-7, 2010
http://www.gulfsouthconference.org/news.asp?action=form&recordID=429444&sport=BASEBALL

MIAA - Mid America Intercollegiate Athletics Association
CommunityAmerica Ballpark, Kansas City, KS May 6-9, 2010
http://www.themiaa.com/information/2010Championships/baseball

CCAA - California Collegiate Athletic Association
Klein Family Field, Stockton, CA May 6-8, 2010
http://goccaa.org/sports/2009/10/2/BSB_1002095843.aspx

Peach Belt Conference
Hosted by USC Aiken, Roberto Hernandez Stadium, May 8-9, 2010
http://www.pacersports.com/sports/bsb/2009-10/10_PBC_Tournament/pbctournamenthome

CCAC - Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference
Hosted by Wilmington, Frawley Stadium, May 4, 7-8, 2010
http://www.caccathletics.org/sports/bsb/2009-10/News/live_stats

ECC - East Coast Conference
Hosted by Dowling, Oakdale, NY, May 6-8, 2010
http://www.eccsports.org/sports/bsb/index

GLIAC - Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Hosted by Wayne State and Grand Valley State, Chillicothe, OH, May 6-8, 2010
http://www.gvsulakers.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/10-gliac-tournament-page.html

GLVC - Great Lakes Valley Conference
Hosted by UMSL at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, IL and UMSL Field, St. Louis, Mo., May 6-9, 2010
http://www.glvcsports.com/sports/2010/1/14/BSB_2010_tourney_0114104807.aspx?id=5813

Heartland Conference
Disch-Falk Field, Austin, Texas, May 7-9, 2010
http://www.heartlandsports.org/news/2010/5/4/BSB_0504104254.aspx

Northeast 10 (the largest conference in Division II)
Hosted by Franklin-Pierce, May 6-9, 2010
http://www.northeast10.org/information/championships/baseball/baseball_Championship

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
St. Cloud, Minn., Joe Faber Field, May 5-8, 2010
http://www.northernsun.org/include_news_m_baseball_tourney2010.cfm

RMAC - Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
Hosted by Nebraska-Kearney, Kearney, Neb., May 5-8, 2010
http://www.lopers.com/sports/2010/4/22/BB_0422100920.aspx?path=baseball

WVIAC - West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Point Stadium, Johnstown, Pa., May 6-9, 2010
http://www.wviac.org/sports/2010/4/26/BSB_0426101416.aspx?id=422

The 2010 NCAA Divison II Field will be revealed Sunday night, May 9, 2010 at 10 PM ET//9 PM CT:
NCAA Baseball Home

For future reference: The NCAA Division II Baseball Championship site is located here:
http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-basebl/champpage/m-basebl-div2-index.html

Here is a list of automatic qualifiers:
California Collegiate Athletic Association
Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference
Conference Carolinas
East Coast Conference
Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Great Lakes Valley Conference
Gulf South Conference
Heartland Conference
Lone Star Conference
Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association
Northeast-10 Conference
Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
Peach Belt Conference
Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference
Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
South Atlantic Conference
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Sunshine State Conference
West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

There will be 29 at-large selections. From the NCAA championship Rules Handbook: "The championship provides for eight regional sites - six sites will host six teams, one site (West) will host four teams and one site (South) will host eight teams. All regionals shall be double-elimination tournaments. Winners of the eight regional tournaments will qualify for the double-elimination championship series."

Here's a list of the teams who have already qualified: Mount Olive (40-9, 18-6) (Conference Carolinas), Tampa (42-8, 21-3) (Sunshine State Conference), Abilene Christian (46-13, 28-11) (Lone Star Conference), California, Pa. (32-16, 17-7) (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference), Catawba (40-11, 16-8) (South Atlantic Conference), Albany State (29-13, 18-2) (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference).

Regional Rankings Review...

In the South Region

No. 4 Southern Arkansas(42-7, 18-2 GSC), currently first in the South, is fighting for its life in the Gulf South Tournament. They lost to Valdosta State on Tuesday, 8-4, and face elimination if they lose again. Since the loss, they have defeated Arkansas Tech, 23-4 and just eliminated North Alabama, 12-2 today. They will meet undefeated Valdosta State tomorrow, May 7 at 9:30 AM and will have to beat them twice to win the conference tourney title. No. 2 Tampa (42-8, 21-3 SSC), two in all three national polls, remains in second place, followed by fellow SSC school No. 7 Florida Southern (39-11, 14-7 SSC)

Four Gulf South Conference teams hold the next four spots in the region. Besides SAU, No. 15 Valdosta State (39-14, 28-13) and No. 30 West Florida (36-17, 22-15) remain fourth and fifth, respectively, while No. 18 Delta State (34-16-1, 27-12-1) and unranked Arkansas Tech (35-18, 30-13) are at sixth and seventh.

In the South Central Region...

No. 3 Central Missouri (43-7,34-6 MIAA) still holds down the top spot followed by LSC Champion No. 11 Abilene Christian (46-13, 28-11 LSC), and then 2009 National-Runner-Up and No. 9 Emporia State (39-12, 31-9 MIAA). Emporia State plays Missouri Southern today in the MIAA tourney.

In the Atlantic...

No. 12 Kutztown(37-14, 16-8 PSAC) remains in the top spot in the Atlantic Region despite losing the PSAC conference tournament. They will be hoping for an at-large bid come Sunday night. California (Pa.)(32-16,17-7 PSAC), winners of the PSAC Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament were sitting at eighth in the Atlantic region.

In the West...

The nation's top-ranked team is still No. 1 in the West after sweeping San Francisco State on the last weekend of the regular-season. UCSD (45-6, 35-5 CCAA) plays Chico State at 7 PM pacific time in the CCAA tourney. Chico State (34-16, 26-14 CCAA) sits at third, behind fellow CCAA member Cal State Dominguez Hills (37-16, 27-13 CCAA). CSDH will meet Cal State San Bernardino (29-15, 27-13 CCAA), ranked fifth in the region, at 3 PM pacific time.

Random Notes...
UCSD Coach Dan O'Brien named CCAA Coach of the Year...Brandon Gregorich named CCCAA Player of the Year and his teammate, pitcher Matt Rossman won CCAA Pitcher of the Year...Kutztown's Shayne Houck was named PSAC Eastern Player of the Year...California's Mike Conte was named PSAC West Coach of the Year and his sophomore pitcher Randy Sturgill was named PSAC West Pitcher of the Year...Southern Arkansas' Hayden Simpson was selected GSC West Division Player of the Year and Valdosta State's Brandon Decker was chosen the GSC East Division Player of the Year...Central Missouri outfielder Chance Tuttle was named MIAA Player of the Year; he batted .447 this season…and Tom Myers earned Coach of the Year honors.

Bubble teams will be watching on Sunday night when the NCAA announces the 48-team field for the 2010 NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament...stay tuned to NCAA.COM for the latest.