The Southern baseball team is going to the Word Series — the HBCU World Series, that is.
The Jaguars will take on North Carolina A&T in the inaugural HBCU World Series game at 1 p.m. May 24 in Chicago at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox.
The game is being organized and promoted by BCSG 360, a non-profit organization that hosts HBCU events, and will be preceded by an HBCU admissions and career fair with thousands of students participating.
The organizers might ultimately want to expand it to a true series but worked to get this one off the ground first. Plans for a game last year fell through, Southern athletic director Roman Banks said.
“It’s good opportunity for us to play in that professional ballpark,” Banks said. “The guys get a chance to go on a trip and get themselves prepared for the NCAA tournament. We’ve got a lot of fans and alumni, and it would be awesome for them to share the experience with the guys.
“What they’re trying to do showcase HBCU teams and sell baseball to African-American kids that have gotten away from playing baseball. It’s good for a lot of reasons.”
The teams were chosen before they played their conference tournaments. Southern won the SWAC tournament and North Carolina A&T was the South Division No. 1 seed in the MEAC. But Florida A&M emerged as the league champion and won the NCAA playoff berth.
With nearly two weeks between the Southwest Athletic Conference championship game and the NCAA tournament May 31, the game provides Southern a chance to stay sharp. The Jaguars will leave for Chicago on Thursday and return Saturday.
“I like the idea,” Southern coach Kerrick Jackson said. “Ultimately it would be better if it was the two teams that won the tournament because you are giving teams going into regional play an extra weekend to compete and keep themselves in rhythm. We’ll see how it goes the first year and tweak it between locations, teams at home and all that stuff.
“Ultimately that’s what I would hope it will be: play somewhere so both teams can drive and play a competitive series, or a regional-type format to prepare for the regionals the week after that.”
Banks said they got the final details worked out with the organizers two days ago and added the finishing touches Monday.
“I just wanted to make sure we had all the details and a coach who was comfortable with the arrangements,” he said.