“Showing those guys these environments is a critical part of this whole development process,” he added.
It should be one of the biggest crowds the Raiders have played in front of this season. Their series at Louisiana in February averaged 4,900 for the three games. The next largest crowd was 2,236 at Louisville last week.
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Even though the Raiders, who have won 9 of 11 to improve to 33-15 overall and 19-6 in the HL, have clinched the regular-season title, Mercer said the team won’t be easing up for the final series of the regular season.
“We’re going to run our starters out there and play it out like we’ve got everything to play for and stay sharp,” he said. “We’re going to play to win those games. The big change will be on the mound, trying to get some more guys in.”
The final two games of the NKU series will be played at Nischwitz Stadium, where WSU will be the host for the HL tournament May 23-26.
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The pairings for the tournament won’t be announced until the regular season is complete, but with the Raiders locked is as the No. 1 seed, they know they will play their first game at 11 a.m. May 23 against the winner of the first-round game between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds.
“It really helps us being at home,” Mercer said. “I know it sounds cliche, but we’re built to play in this park. We can really run because this place plays so big and we’re a top five or 10 defense in the country.”
Wright State will be looking for its third tournament championship and NCAA berth in four years. The last HL team to win three tournaments in four years was Illinois-Chicago (2005, 2007, 2008).
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Playing the tournament at home has been beneficial for the Raiders, who have captured titles the last three times the event was played at Nischwitz (2016, 2011, 2006).
If the Raiders are able to win the tournament, Mercer will join his predecessors Greg Lovelady and Rob Cooper in leading WSU to the NCAA tournament in their second seasons as head coach.