16 May

good vibrations

Delta State might be carrying a special vibe as it enters the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Statesmen celebrated the 20th anniversary of their greatest season — the 2004 national championship season — during the team’s final homestand, swept three games from rival Mississippi College, then made a run to the finals of the Gulf South Conference Tournament, ensuring a bid to the NCAAs. DSU (32-22) begins play tonight in the South Region against Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in St. Leo, Fla. The streaky Statesmen have won seven of their last nine, but their path to a D-II World Series berth is seriously cluttered. Embry-Riddle, ranked 20th in D-II, is 30-20. Host St. Leo, ranked No. 7, is the top seed in the four-team sub-regional with a 38-11 record. No. 1-ranked Tampa is in the other South Region bracket. Dylan Coleman, from Madison by way of Hinds Community College, has had a huge year with the bat for DSU, hitting .387 with 16 homers, 57 RBIs and a .683 slugging percentage. Hayden Cooper is batting .345, and Cleveland native Brett Burrell is at .332. Pitching (5.53 staff ERA) hasn’t been a strength, though reliever Josh Hill, a Northwest Mississippi CC transfer, has been a valuable asset with 5-1 record, eight saves and a 3.58 in 19 appearances. Top starter Drake Fontenot is 7-4, 6.32, and Logan Cromer 4-3, 3.48. Embry-Riddle’s attack is led by Drew Barragan, who carries a .448 average with 16 homers and 94 RBIs. Travis Strickler is hitting .402 with 29 steals. The ace of the staff is Cole Altherr (6-4, 4.37, 106 strikeouts).

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