SHAWNEE – Oklahoma Baptist's baseball season got a shot of new life Sunday night when it was announced that the Bison survived its bubble status and made the NCAA Tournament.
The announcement was met with boisterous cheering from the team as they watched the selection show Sunday night.
OBU, in its initial season of NCAA postseason eligibility, was ranked eighth in Wednesday's Central Region rankings and moves on to the Central Region Tournament as the seventh seed. As such, the Bison open with second-seeded Central Missouri in an eight-team double-elimination tournament in Magnolia, Arkansas.
"It's a miracle that we're even in, with all the injuries to our pitching this year," said OBU Coach Bobby Cox. "It's pretty special to get to go in our first year of eligibility."
OBU plays the Mules Thursday. If the Bison win, they take on third-seeded Central Oklahoma (35-19) or St. Cloud State (29-15), the sixth seed Friday, while a loss would put them in an elimination game against the UCO-St. Cloud loser Friday.
Top seeded Southern Arkansas University (36-17) is the top seed and gets the No. 8 Emporia State (32-21) in the opposite side of the bracket from OBU. Pittsburg State (33-18) is the fourth seed and takes on fifth-seeded Augustana (44-8).
OBU enters the fray with a 31-17 record with a team batting average of .316 and a team earned run average of 4.74.
Central Missouri is 37-15 on the season and bats .320 as a team with an earned run average of 4.27.
The Bison and Mules have never met on the baseball diamond. OBU also has never played Augustana, Minnesota State, Pittsburg State or St. Cloud State. The Bison are 24-26 against Central Oklahoma, 9-1 against Emporia State and 3-8 against Southern Arkansas.
The tournament champion advances to the final site and the field of eight teams in Cary, North Carolina May 26-June 3.