Mitchell baseball opens NCAA tournament play Friday at Babson

May 13—Mitchell College is in a good groove heading into the NCAA Division III baseball tournament, which opens on Friday.

The Mariners (32-11) are hoping to maintain their high level of play as they begin their quest to advance out of the regionals for the first time in program history.

They'll face host Babson College (30-11) in first-round action at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Govoni Park in Babson Park, Massachusetts. No. 7 Salisbury (28-9) faces UMass Dartmouth (24-18-1) in the first game.

They've won 15 of their last 18 games by playing sound all-around baseball.

"I think we're hitting our stride and I think we're playing our best baseball right now," Mitchell first-year coach Shawn Gilblair said. "I hope we haven't played our best baseball game yet. I think that that's still in front of us and I hope we can do that this weekend."

Both teams earned automatic berths by winning their respective conference tournaments, Mitchell in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and Babson in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference.

The Mariners are making their ninth NCAA appearance, including fourth straight, and the Beavers their sixth.

The tournament field was announced during Monday's Selection Show.

"The selection show came out, we know where we're playing and we know who we've got, so it's time to go to work and prepare," Gilblair said.

Mitchell came close to winning the regional last season while hosting for the first time, winning its first two games before suffering back-to-back losses in the championship round to Wheaton.

In its inaugural season in the GNAC, the Mariners swept Johnson & Wales 3-1 and 5-4 in the best-of-three championship series last week.

In the days leading up to Friday's NCAA opener, Gilblair's main focus will be on his team.

"The way I see it, focus on what you can control," Gilblair said. "What's in our control is how we prepare leading up to the regional tournament and that's what we're going to do. It's our job to be ready to go and to put ourselves in the best position to be successful. That's what we live by.

"We're going to be ready to go. To us, it's a faceless opponent. And we're going to focus on how we play the game."

Of course, Gilblair still plans on doing research on Babson, which emerged out of the losers' bracket to capture the NEWMAC Championship for the first time since 2018.

"We're going to try to gather as much information as we can to help give us a chance," Gilblair said. "But, again, it comes back for us to be in the right mental state and to have confidence going in and playing our brand of baseball."

The four-team double-elimination tournament will continue over the weekend, with a regional winner being crowned on Sunday.

The Mariners have won at least one game in the NCAA tournament in each of their last five appearances.