EUNICE — An animated postgame celebration was nowhere in sight last weekend as LSU-Eunice qualified for the NJCAA Division II World Series.
Bengals coach Jeff Willis wasn’t totally surprised by his team’s nonchalance; he understood the demeanor.
“This group has been determined all season to get back into the national tournament. What I’m seeing is a businesslike approach to the postseason,” Willis said.
“There was no dog-piling. The players took control. Our catcher (Jordan Romero) called the pitches. Our sophomores didn’t want to be the first ones in school history not to advance to the World Series.”
No need to worry.
LSUE has arrived at its anticipated destination. And at noon Sunday, the top-seeded Bengals (44-9) meet Scottsdale Community College (33-25) in the first round at David Allen Ballpark in Enid, Oklahoma.
Willis’ teams have won four Division II championships.
The last of those came in 2012. LSUE finished runner-up in the 10-team national tournament (2013); and last season, the Bengals were eliminated in the final game of the Region 23 tournament.
Eight teams played Saturday. After the LSUE-Scottsdale game, there are three elimination games.
In the tournament opener, Frederick (Md.) defeated Lincoln Land (Ill.) 7-0.
The winner of the LSUE-Scottsdale game plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while the loser has a noon start.
Six other teams in the Division II Top 10 rankings advanced to the championship tournament: No. 2 Frederick, No. 3 Western Oklahoma State, No. 4 Madison (Wis.), No. 6 North Iowa Area, No. 7 Lincoln Land, No. 8 Kellogg and No. 10 Catawaba Valley.
LSUE reached the World Series last Saturday night after defeating then-No. 1 Hinds (Miss.) Community College 6-0.
The Bengals defeated Hinds twice in the tournament played at LSUE.
In addition to bringing in a team batting .321, Willis likes his chances because of his pitching staff.
The top three in the Bengals’ rotation signed Division I scholarships; and Mitch Sewald, Sunday’s probable starter, pitched only three innings in May 14’s first-round game.
“Having (Sewald) throw only three innings is a key piece of the puzzle. Our bullpen only threw four innings, so our pitchers should be ready,” Willis said.
Sewald, a sophomore who signed with TCU, is 12-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Sewald has struck out 85 in 86 innings.
The Bengals’ pitching staff has struck out 469 in 414 innings and walked 141.
Teams are htting .230 against LSUE.
The Bengals have 44 home runs and 407 RBIs; and 159 of their 535 hits have been for extrs bases.
Former University High standout Steven Sensley, a redshirt sophomore, has a team record 18 homers and a .794 slugging percentage. Sensley has 70 RBIs and a .475 on-base percentage.
The remainder of the Bengals’ position starters are second baseman Wll Watson; shortstop Brennan Bozeman; third baseman Nick Coomes; and outfielders Cade Stone, Madison Nickens and David Lafleur.
Freshman Trenon Trosclair is the ninth batter and designated hitter. LSU signee Jordan Romero is hitting .323.
Bozeman, a Central Florida signee, is batting .325, while Coomes is at .298. Stone, who signed with Louisiana-Monroe, is batting .344.
Sensley, who signed with Louisiana-Lafayette has a team-leading .383 average.
Scottsdale defeated Phoenix College (10-4) last weekend to advance to the championship tournament. The Artichokes are batting .290 and have 34 homers and 301 RBIs.