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|Matt Green has benefitted from working with former Louisiana-Monroe standout Chuck Finley.|
|McNeese State's Jacob Marceaux expanded his pitching repertoire after working with former Tigers closer Mike Henneman.|
Around The Nation
The first NCAA Tournament bid gets handed out this weekend in Orlando, where the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference holds its tournament. Bethune-Cookman has won this tournament six consecutive seasons but enters as the No. 2 seed behind North Carolina A&T, which went 13-6 in conference compared with B-C's 11-6 mark.
The Wildcats missed a pair of chances to finish first, losing a series at A&T early in the year, then dropping two of three last weekend against Delaware State. The seeding looms large because the seven-team double-elimination format allows the top seed a first-round bye but forces all the other teams into immediate action.
Who's the favorite? B-C thinks it is, having already scheduled a series against Jacksonville next weekend and a single game with Stetson on May 21. That's not coach Mervyl Melendez's ego, just smart scheduling based on his team's past success and the need to play games to avoid a three-week layoff before the NCAA Tournament.
Left-hander J.R. Crowell and right-handers Billy Mohl and Daniel Latham combined for a no-hitter Wednesday as No. 3 Tulane topped Nicholls State 3-0. Crowell cut the start short, as he will start Sunday at South Florida in place of Brandon Gomes. He threw the first two innings, Mohl worked six and Latham earned a save with a perfect ninth. None walked a batter, though Mohl hit Josh Thomas with two outs in the eighth inning to end the perfect game.
"Pitching-wise and defensively, we were tremendous," Tulane coach Rick Jones said. "That's how we won the game. Three guys pitched it well. I've had no-hitters pitched, and while I've never been part of a perfect game, we came real close."
The Green Wave travel to South Florida for a Conference USA series this weekend.
We Didn't Make This Up
Brigham Young improved to 29-14-1 with a win Wednesday against Northern Colorado, surpassing its wins total from 2004. It stands tied with Nevada-Las Vegas atop the Mountain West Conference with a 14-4 record. The Cougars' success lies partly in the fact that they lead the league in runs per game and ERA while ranking second in fielding percentage.
The rest of the explanation comes from an idea pitching coach Bobby Applegate brought with him from the Air Force Academy. He had the entire team climb a mountain near the BYU campus. When they reached the white "Y" on the mountain, each player and coach received a coin to commemorate the climb. They carry the coins at all times, and if a team member shows his coin to another who doesn't have his with him, the offender must buy a drink for any team members who happen to be around.
"It sounds kind of corny," BYU coach Vance Law said. "But we rely on each other. We ran up to the 'Y' together and it was a total team effort. Guys didn't leave each other behind; we ran together."
BYU visits Air Force this weekend for a three-game league series.
Fun With Numbers
Speed is on the rise and power is on the decline, according to the midseason statistical trend report released by the NCAA this week. Home runs are down about 8 percent (0.74 per game at this point in 2004 compared with 0.68 this year), but stolen bases have increased by about 4 percent (1.19 per game in '04 vs. 1.24 this year). Those figures stood at 0.71 and 1.17 at the midpoint of 2003.
Teams still are scoring runs at about the same rate, with 6.19 runs per game this season compared with 6.23 last year, less than a 1 percent difference. Overall ERA has dropped about 3 percent, from 5.28 last year to 5.14, while fielding percentage remains basically the same (.957 this year and .958 last year).
Known for its offense, the Southeastern Conference led all leagues with a .306 batting average and 7.22 runs per game a year ago but doesn't appear among the top three in either category this season. The Mountain West has usurped it as the offensive juggernaut, with a collective .312 average and 7.31 runs per game.
The Big 12, Pac-10 and Big West rate as the top three fielding conferences for the second year running.
Rest Of The Ranked
(14) Missouri at (1) Texas
UC Santa Barbara at (2) Cal State Fullerton
Maryland at (5) Miami
(17) Arizona State at (6) Oregon State
Texas Tech at (11) Baylor
UC Davis at (12) Long Beach State
Fresno State at (15) Rice
Auburn at (19) South Carolina
(20) Stanford is idle
Arkansas-Little Rock at (21) Louisiana-Lafayette
(23) Arkansas at Kentucky
Virginia at (24) Florida State
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