This article originally appeared on army.rivals.com on May 27, 2009 and was written by A.M. Allan.
AUSTIN, Texas - As the Army Black Knights landed in Texas this afternoon, a few things that are certain for the Black Knights as they head into the Austin Regionals ... first is that they are not just happy to be here. Here being one of just 64 teams remaining to contend for the 2009 NCAA baseball crown.
Secondly ... and although they will be stepping onto UFCU Disch-Falk Field against the host team, Texas (41-13-1) ... and yes, those same Longhorns, who are No. 5 in the country and the No. 1 seed in 2009 NCAA baseball tournament field The Black Knights won't have that deer in the headlights look.
"To tell you the truth, I feel big time excitement," shares sophomore shortstop Clint Moore, who is bringing a .390 BA, 9 HR, 59 RBI to the regionals. "You're starting off regions to advance you have to beat good teams and it just so happens we got the No. 1 seed, which is great. I'm excited to get out there, but we aren't preparing any differently, they are just like we are .... Just playing the game we'll see what happens."
First baseman, Kevin McKague echoed similar thoughts we speaking about the top seeded Longhorns. "We try not to look at the name of the opponent, but play our style of ball and doing whatever we have done that got us here," says the sharp hitting first baseman, who has a hot .407 BA, 6 HR, 40 RBI. "We have been successful so far with our style of ball and we know Texas is going to play the way they have played the whole year."
"It doesn't really change our philosophy or our approach, and we do what we have been doing this past year and the cards will fall where they may, and hopefully we come out on top," says Black Knights' captain JP Polchinski.
Third is supported by the historical fact that if you come into the tournament at your peak level, you can be the lower seed, but still be as competitive as the top seed.
Case and point - In 2008, when Fresno State went on a Cinderella ride and won the NCAA title.
In order for Army to continue its winning ways in the regionals, it will be the offense, which has carried the team throughout the year. For the most part, the match up against Texas will pit strength (Army's hitting) on strength (Texas' pitching), and the winner would simply be who played better for that series.
"We know what they bring to the table, which is a great pitching staff and they have one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all-time," declares McKague. "But I think we are prepared and we are going to exactly what we have to do."
Pretty much everyone on the team realizes that, but that's one of the reason why we think we have a good shot, because the match up kind of offsets each other," confirms Polchinski, who adds some humorist outlook to the upcoming face off against Texas. "Coach Sottolano said that when the Longhorns come out, you are going to think you are playing the New York Yankees, and that made us laugh and kind of put it in perspective to us on how big this really is.
PROJECTED GAME #1 STARTER
As the projected Game 1 starter, Matt Fouch shares how he is feeling heading into a game against the #1 seed in the tournament. "I feel great about it and we figure if we are going to come to the regional's we might as well play the No. 1 seed, we are excited about that," says the southpaw. "My mindset is that it's not all on me. I have a great defense behind me, and I can rely on offense to help me out. It's just not putting it all on myself, and just let my teammates make plays ... for me, it's about throwing strikes."
THE TEAM'S IDENTITY
This year we really come together as a team and it's evident in our lineup, how 1 through 9, everyone can get the job done," says McKague, describing the Black Knights' mindset. "And if you aren't able to get the job done, you know that there are guys right behind you absolutely capable of doing it. Picking each other up has been one of the main focuses that Coach Sottolano has emphasized."
For Army, it's been a maturing process with everyone on the team, where the upper upperclassmen and seniors have done a great job bringing up the younger guys.
The Black Knights are a young team, but they have come to the NCAA tournament with the intentions of winning on the regional level. They come out every day with the intention of performing and representing the Army well.