The Northeastern Huskies secured a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association Championships for the first time in four years by beating the Towson Tigers in the final game of the regular season last Saturday. Star pitcher Kevin Ferguson earned his seventh victory of the season, tossing a complete game six-hitter.
The Huskies and the Tigers will meet again in the first round of the CAA Championships on Wednesday afternoon in Harrisonburg, Va. The winner of the conference championships, which span three days and feature the league’s top six teams, will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament beginning later this month.
Northeastern players and coaches believe in their chances of making a deep playoff push.
“We can compete with anyone in this tournament,” said manager Neil McPhee.
When asked to name his team’s greatest attribute, he singled out the club’s resiliency. “We were picked in the preseason to finish last in the conference,” he said. “To be able to play under the pressure of making the tournament has been a huge plus for this program.”
Outfielder Aaron Barbosa is one of the team’s top players, leading the Huskies with a .321 average, 67 hits, 41 runs, and 26 stolen bases. He agreed with his manager’s assessment, saying, “If we play our game and hit well, then we should have a good shot at winning the tournament.”
The key to beating Towson lies in Northeastern’s pitching, which ranked second in the conference with a 3.62 team ERA. Starting pitcher Nick Berger will be charged with shutting down Towson’s offense, which scored 359 runs in the regular season, third most in the conference.
“He is a strong, strapping athlete,” McPhee said of Berger, a 6-foot-1-inch sophomore whose 3.12 ERA ranked second on the team behind Ferguson’s 2.49 mark. “He hasn’t had any arm problems all year and we expect him to be ready.”
If the Huskies beat Towson, they would play top-seeded UNC Wilmington on Thursday afternoon. Ferguson, who led Northeastern in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and innings pitched, would most likely take the mound.
“Kevin is the pitcher we want on the mound in that game,” McPhee said of his ace. “He’s had a career year.”