Aces at Bat

The University of Evansville nets its first trip to the national baseball tournament in 18 years.

Under Wes Carroll’s watchful eye, the University of Evansville baseball team has used hosting the Missouri Valley Conference tournament as a springboard to its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2006.

The Aces defeated top-seeded Indiana State, 8-6, in the MVC championship game on May 25 at UE’s Braun Stadium, securing the league’s automatic bid to the NCAAs. No. 4 seed UE (35-23) will play host and No. 1 seed East Carolina (43-15) at noon CDT on May 31 in the first round of the Greenville (North Carolina) Regional. No. 2 seed Wake Forest (38-20) will meet No. 3 Virginia Commonwealth (37-21) at 5 p.m. CDT on May 31 in the second game of the double-elimination tourney, which continues through Monday, if necessary. East Carolina is ranked No. 16 nationally.

“It’s incredible, a goal of mine for a long time,” Carroll says of leading UE into the NCAA tournament for the first time in his 15 years as head coach. “It’s a culmination of a group of these upperclassmen believing in UE and buying into each other. We have been able to turn around this program with facility upgrades; however, a winning culture has been developed through genuine relationships.”

The underdog Aces will take a nothing-to-lose approach to the regionals.

“We are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence and play extremely loose,” says Carroll, a two-time MVC Coach of the Year. “This group has handled so many pressures over the years and will perform on the biggest stage.”

It’s been a dramatic turnaround for a program that suffered through four successive losing seasons from 2017-20. The Aces were unbeaten in the double-elimination MVC tourney May 21-25.

Carroll’s one-word answer for UE’s resurgence? “People! The dramatic turnaround is based on people believing in something bigger than themselves and creating genuine relationships. We also developed pillars of success within our program that starts with being selfless. We also believe in being a great teammate, having respect for one another, being a self-starter, and having ultimate pride in being an Ace.”

Dave Schrage guided UE to its previous NCAA trip in 2006. Carroll, who played on the Aces’ 2000 NCAA tournament team under Jim Brownlee, was named to the MVC All-Centennial Team in 2007 as one of its top players. He reached the Triple-A level with the Edmonton Trappers in 2004 and the New Orleans Zephyrs in ’05, one step shy of the major leagues, before retiring in the spring of ’06.

On one other occasion, UE hosted the MVC tournament in 1998 at Bosse Field. Carroll says this year’s tournament was sweeter.

“It was an incredible experience to win a championship and to dogpile in front of our home crowd,” Carroll says. “The greatest highlight of my career.”

The Aces’ Game 1 matchup with East Carolina broadcasts starting at noon CDT on ESPN+. Regional tournaments run May 31-June 3, are followed by super regionals within a week, and culminate in the Men’s College World Series starting June 14.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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