HOOKSETT — Southern New Hampshire’s quest for a second-straight appearance in the College World Series will start at home.
The Penmen are hosting the East Regional of the NCAA Div. II tournament as the No. 4 seed of six teams playing for one of eight spots in the national finals.
“I think it’s great for the guys,” Penmen coach Scott Loiseau. “The biggest thing is just keeping the guys in their normal routine.”
Southern New Hampshire (33-17) opens the regional Thursday at 7 p.m. against Northeast 10-rival New Haven (33-14), which won the conference tournament and is the No. 3 seed.
The first round of double-elimination play at Penmen Field begins at 11 a.m. with top-seeded Wilmington (Delaware) against No. 6 seed Franklin Pierce (32-15). East Coast Conference tournament champion St. Thomas Aquinas (39-12) is the No. 2 seed and will play No. 5 seed Pace, which is back in the tournament for the first time since 1985, at 3 p.m.
Southern New Hampshire and New Haven wrap up opening day with the third meeting between the schools this year. The Penmen and Chargers split a doubleheader on April 6 at SNHU.SNH
The regional runs through Sunday and the winner advances to the College World Series at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. from May 25-June 1.
The Penmen made the NCAA tournament for the first time last year and advanced to the CWS by winning the regional at home.
“We have a lot of the same guys back from last year. The experience of playing in the regional and World Series gives them the ability to calm their nerves a little bit,” Loiseau said. “Knowing what to expect definitely makes a big difference for these guys.”
SNHU, New Haven, Pace and Franklin Pierce all come from the Northeast 10. St. Thomas Aquinas won the East Coast Conference tournament and Wilmington (40-12) won its third straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament. The Wildcats are riding a 13-game winning streak into the regional and are a No. 1 seed for the first time.
“They’ve got a great club,” Loiseau said.