Tar Heels continue season of firsts
Following a school-record 48 regular-season wins, capped by the ACC regular season and tournament championships, North Carolina received the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history on Monday.
The Tar Heels (52-8) will host No. 4 Canisius at 6 p.m. Friday at Boshamer Stadium, with No. 2 Florida Atlantic (39-20) opening the day against No. 3 Towson (29-28) at 1 p.m. The winner of the double-elimination Chapel Hill Regional will face the winner of the Columbia Regional, which includes No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Clemson, next weekend for a spot at the College World Series.
The Tar Heels have the best winning percentage in the country and are the only team without back-to-back losses. UNC has reached the final week five times in the past seven years, but has never been awarded the top overall seed.
The players celebrated the accomplishment for a moment in front of season-ticket holders yesterday in a viewing part at Boshamer, but coach Mike Fox wanted them quickly to forget about being No. 1.
“The players will be able to say that once they leave here,” Fox said. “But right now it’s just preparing for the rest of our season. After that first pitch on Friday, the seeding and all that doesn’t come into play.”
Miami in 1999 was the last No. 1 overall seed to win the championship.
UNC is 17-2 at home in regional play since 2006, though the two losses came last year against St. John’s when the Tar Heels were eliminated as the No. 6 national seed.
“For those of us who were here last year and experienced that, we’re definitely not going to take (anything) for granted this year,” pitcher Benton Moss said.
UNC is coming off an exhausting ACC Tournament, in which the Tar Heels played 41 innings in 44 hours – a 14-inning win over Clemson Friday night, an 18-inning win over N.C. State Saturday night and a 4-1 win over Virginia Tech in the final on Sunday afternoon.
“It was a fun experience now that it’s said and done, and I’m back to health as far as rest, and I can think straight, and my vision’s back after being up for so many hours straight,” freshman Skye Bolt said. “This is going to be something we look back on for the rest of our lives. It was fun, but it’s time to move forward and focus on these next two weeks.”
All eight teams from the ACC Tournament are in the NCAA field, including national seeds Virginia (No. 6) and Florida State (No. 7).
The Chapel Hill Regional includes one of the most intriguing storylines in the tournament. The Towson baseball team was scheduled to be eliminated because of budget cuts and Title IX concerns, but was given a reprieve when additional money was raised. Towson then won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament to earn an automatic bid in the NCAAs.
2013 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional Schedule
Game 1: No. 2 Florida Atlantic (39-20) vs. No. 3 Towson (29-28), 1 p.m.
Game 2: No. 1 North Carolina (52-8) vs. No. 4 Canisius (41-15), 6 p.m.
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 6 p.m.
Game 7: 6 p.m. - If necessary