Husson University’s baseball team hasn’t played Western New England College of Springfield, Mass., since 1987.
But they will square off in the first round of the eight-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III New England Tournament on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass.
Husson, 29-15 and winner of 10 of its last 11, is the seventh seed while 38-9 WNEC is the second seed.
In the other first-round games, fourth seed MIT (25-13) opens the tourney with a 9:30 a.m. game against No. 5 Rhode Island College (21-18), top seed Tufts (Mass.), 26-7-1, takes on No. 8 Bridgewater State (Mass.), 23-15, at 1 p.m. and third seed Wheaton (Mass.), 29-10, battles No. 6 St. Joseph’s of Standish, 30-13, at 4:30 p.m.
The Eagles went 2-2 in their last appearance in the tournament two years ago.
“We’re really excited to get back there and, hopefully, we’ll make some noise like we did last time,” said Husson senior first baseman Chris Maguire, one of six current players who started at least 37 games in 2009.
“We’re going there looking for a championship, not just to get a couple of wins,” said senior center fielder Tom Crews. “We aren’t going to be intimidated by anyone. We have experience (in this tournament). We’re ready to go.”
Husson hasn’t played since May 7 but the Eagles aren’t concerned about the layoff. The Golden Bears haven’t played since May 8.
“We’ll definitely be ready to go,” said senior shortstop Ethan Guerette. “We got the rest we needed. It was a long season. We had some long stretches where we didn’t get much of a break. This was our break so we’ll be fresh coming in.”
Husson coach Jason Harvey said the fact he has a lot of players with previous NCAA Regional experience is a definite plus because “they know what to expect now. It won’t be an eye-opener like it was the first time.”
He feels this team is better than the 2009 team in certain areas.
“Our pitching is better. Our pitching staff is a little bit deeper,” said Harvey. “Defensively, we’ve gotten better. Hitting-wise, we’re obviously missing (slugger) Nick Arthers (who graduated). He’s tough to replace. But our supporting cast is a lot better . We’ve got more balance throughout the lineup.”