MONTICELLO — Arkansas-Monticello baseball coach John Harvey is fairly certain his team will be given an at-large spot in the NCAA Division II Central Regional.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be nervous right up until the six-team bracket is revealed at 9 p.m. Sunday on NCAA.com.
“Hopefully we’ve done enough,” Harvey said Saturday. “I think we’ll be in (the field), but you never know.
“You’re always nervous till you get your name called.”
UAM (36-15), which is currently ranked third in the Central Region’s rankings by the NCAA, had a chance earlier this week to lock up an automatic berth.
The Boll Weevils, though, fell to Southern Arkansas, 6-2, in the Great American Conference championship game in Enid, Okla., as the Muleriders secured the conference’s first-ever automatic bid.
“Going in I thought things were in our favor,” Harvey said of the title game. “But in the game, things just didn’t go our way.”
Aside from losing the GAC championship game, things pretty much fell how they needed to over the past week to see the Weevils reach their first NCAA tournament as a Division II school.
UAM reached the finals of the GAC tourney and in the process set the school record for wins in a season. Also helping the Weevils was the absence of bid-stealers from the three conferences that make up the Central Region — the GAC, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
GAC winner Southern Arkansas (38-17) is currently ranked fourth in the region, MIAA winner Emporia (Kan.) State is ranked fifth with a 40-17 record and NSIC champion Augustana (S.D.) is ranked sixth with an overall record of 40-14.
The lack of bid-stealers leaves little chance of drama, at least when it comes to who gets bids, come Sunday night, as it’s extremely likely the top-three teams in the Central Rankings — Minnesota State-Mankato, Arkansas Tech and UAM — will fill the at-large slots.
It doesn’t mean there won’t be some important questions answered.
First and foremost is who will host the regional. Typically the No. 1 seed hosts the tournament, meaning it will probably come down to Mankato and ATU.
“I’m sure we can spin it in our favor; however it happens,” Harvey said of the possible hosts. “If Mankato gets it, we’ll get on a plane and talk about how cool of a trip it is. The downside is, I doubt anyone from Arkansas will watch us play.
“If it’s at Tech, we’ve been there before, we know what to expect and we’ll probably have pretty good support.
“We’ll play anywhere, though. We just want to be there.”
Both Mankato and ATU have legitimate cases to earn the top seed. Both had stellar regular seasons but flopped in their respective conference tournaments.
Mankato, which split a doubleheader with UAM in February, went 40-7 during the regular season but went 1-2 in the NSIC tournament. ATU, which won two of its four games with UAM this season, went 41-8 during the regular season before a 1-2 performance in the GAC tourney.
The other question that will be answered Sunday night is where the teams will be seeded.
UAM looks most likely to earn the No. 4 seed with Southern Arkansas jumping the Weevils.
Harvey said he thinks that scenario is a distinct possibility, but he reiterated that the seed is just one more thing he doesn’t focus on too much.
“Hopefully we get a good seed,” Harvey said, “but it really doesn’t matter to me.
“I just want to be in there.”