MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - From the near 400 seats brought in, to the brand new signage, the signs of an NCAA Baseball Regional at Siebert Field are starting to take shape.
This weekend is Minnesota’s first opportunity to host the opening leg of the NCAA Tournament since 2000, starting their postseason run close to home at a field they know all too well.
The honor is a big deal for the Minnesota program, but the players say they're not making the moment “too big” as a national seed. The Gophers are balancing focus with fun, just as they have been doing all season long.
“We just want to keep doing our thing,” Gophers designated hitter Toby Hanson said. “Keep on playing our game, don’t make it any bigger than it needs to be. It’s just baseball at the end of the day.”
And even as the team stays nearby for the NCAA Tournament, Head Coach John Anderson hasn't strayed far from home in recruiting his team, either. A vast majority of the roster is from the Midwest, but 20 of the 33 players are from Minnesota on this year’s team--making this opportunity one that really hits home for many Gophers.
“I always knew I wanted to be a Gopher, since I was really young, and I think that’s the same thing for a lot of other kids,” said Hanson, a Delano, Minn., native. “We want to be here. This was our first choice and this is what we came here to do.”
After sweeping the Big Ten 2018 titles and earning a regional berth, this season is already viewed as an accomplishment. But the historic story still does not have an ending, and the Gophers are just fine with delaying that finish.
“We’re not done yet,” Gophers pitcher Reggie Meyer said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position to keep going.”
Minnesota, UCLA, Gonzaga and Canisius are the four teams in the Minneapolis regional. The winner will advance to the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.
The Gophers begin their NCAA Tournament run Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at Siebert Field against Canisius. The game is already sold out.