Fourth-seeded Sacred Heart enters the Clemson Regional with a 34-21 record after sweeping three games in the Northeast Conference Tournament last week.
The Pioneers, from Fairfield, CT, are 18-13 on opponents’ home fields and 5-1 in neutral-site contests. They had a 23-9 record during regular-season conference play and finished second in the league standings.
This will be Sacred Heart’s second NCAA tournament appearance. The Pioneers were 0-2 in the 2006 Athens (GA) Regional.
Sacred Heart is led by 23rd-year head coach Nick Giaquinto, a UConn alum who played four years (1980-83) in the NFL with the Dolphins and Redskins. He still holds the Husky single-game record with 277 rushing yards against Holy Cross in 1976.
Sacred Heart, which has won seven games in a row, is hitting .311 with a .397 slugging percentage and a .371 on-base percentage.
The Pioneers are fielding at a .968 clip, and have totaled 86 doubles, 15 triples, 14 home runs, 60 sacrifice bunts, and are averaging 5.8 runs per game. They have 64 stolen bases in 88 attempts.
J.J. Edwards is hitting a team-high .380 with 14 sacrifice bunts. M.J. Schifano is batting .337 with 12 steals, while Steve Tedesco is hitting .335 with 16 stolen bases. Rob Griffith is hitting .333 with four homers and a team-high 44 RBIs, while John Murphy is hitting .305 with three homers, 43 RBIs, and 11 steals.
The pitching staff has a 4.35 ERA and .268 opponents’ batting average. The staff has allowed only 14 homers and 187 walks against 272 strikeouts, good for a 1.45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Sophomore righthander Troy Scribner, who is slated to start on the mound against the Tigers on Friday, is 9-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 92.2 innings pitched over 14 appearances (13 starts).
Freshman lefty Nick Leiningen is 7-3 with one save, a 3.68 ERA, and seven complete games in 80.2 innings pitched over 14 appearances (11 starts). Schifano, a senior righty, has a team-high three saves in 50.1 innings pitched over 13 appearances (seven starts).
Clemson and Sacred Heart have never met on the diamond.
Sacred Heart comes into the tournament with a No. 84 RPI – third highest in the NCAA field among No. 4 seeds.