The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Ready for Regionals

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Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Sophomore shortstop Braden Shewmake is second on the team in batting with a .329 average for the season.

Heading into the SEC Tournament, Texas A&M knew it still had work to do if it wanted to make the NCAA Tournament for the 12th-straight season.
The Aggies stumbled to a 13-17 finish in conference play and entered the tournament as the 11-seed. A loss in the opening round to Vanderbilt would almost crush any chances of A&M making a last-ditch effort to make the Field of 64.
Right on cue, the Aggies reeled off three-straight wins over the Commodores, Georgia and Auburn before falling to Ole Miss in the semifinals, leaving no doubt the maroon and white would hear its name called on Selection Monday.
“We played free,” third baseman George Janca said. “We didn’t worry about what was going to happen and what might happen. I think that’s where we play our best is when we go out there and play for each other and play free, not worrying about consequences.”
There were not so many nerves when A&M saw its name appear as the 3-seed in the Austin Regional facing Indiana first when the brackets were unveiled. This was thanks to the successful week the Aggies had in Hoover, Alabama.
“I feel like if we didn’t win a couple of games there, we weren’t going to get in,” shortstop Braden Shewmake said.
Two key areas sharpened up for A&M in Hoover – pitching and fielding.
On the mound, the Aggies were nearly lights out, allowing just five runs in 36 innings of work. Collectively, A&M struck out 43 batters, while walking just five. Sophomore John Doxakis earned All-Tournament honors after carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning in A&M’s 4-2 win over Auburn in which he out-dueled potential No. 1 draft pick Casey Mize.
“I feel like we’re just being competitive,” senior Kaylor Chafin said of the pitching staff. “We all went into the [SEC] Tournament expecting something to prove and we went in there and I felt like we did a good job of just competing really hard.”
In the field, the Aggies committed one lowly error throughout the entire tournament after committing 11 total errors in their previous six games.
“We played incredibly well last week in Hoover in the conference tournament and I know our guys are anxious to continue to play well,” Childress said.
The 3-1 outing at the conference tournament was a confidence booster as A&M had suffered a rather miserable May, going 4-7 to close the regular season, including a 2-7 mark in SEC play.
“It was a little up and down throughout the year, but we got in and that was our goal,” third baseman George Janca said. “We made the postseason, but know we’ve got bigger things ahead of us.”
Now the Aggies will make a 90-minute trip west to Austin for regional play, which is hosted by longtime rival Texas. A&M will face the Hoosiers on Friday at 4 p.m.
“It’s going to be as good of an atmosphere as we could hope for other than playing at home, but it’s going to be like playing at home seeing a lot of A&M fans there,” Janca said, who grew up 20 minutes from Disch-Falk Field in Georgetown. “I think it’s going to be a big asset for us having a home crowd.”
A&M has its work cut out, potentially having to face the Big Ten’s strikeout leader in Indiana’s Jonathan Stiever. The Aggies are also in line to square off against Big 12-champion Texas at their place. But Childress said SEC play has prepared his team for any situation.
“The league the last 10 weeks, now 11 weeks with the Southeastern Conference tournament has prepared us for anything we’re going to see for the rest of the season,” Childress said. “It’s callused us up, it’s made us tougher and I know our guys are feeling really good about the way we played.”
Additionally, the Aggies continue to play as the underdog, hoping to make another magical run to the College World Series for the second-straight season as a 3-seed.
“I feel like we’ve proved to ourselves and to a lot of people that we’re ready to go in the postseason and that we can play with anybody,” Shewmake said.

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  • Junior pitcher Stephen Kolek and the Texas A&M baseball team open NCAA Tournament play in the Austin Regional this Friday against Indiana.

    Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

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