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Cougars leave for NCAA Southeast Regional

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - They might be the hottest baseball time in all of Division II, but now is the time for the Columbus State Cougars to take things to the next level, as the NCAA Southeast Regional approaches.

Tuesday was departure day for the Cougars, as they loaded up the bus for the 270 mile trip up I-85 to Tigerville, South Carolina. Of course, not all road trips are created equal. This one is what the whole season has been all about – a trip to the NCAA Tournament, complete with CSU fans crowded around to give the team a proper sendoff.

“It’s a great feeling,” senior pitcher Devin Dudal said. “Everyone’s prepared. We’ve been fired up all week. It’s good to play all season and get to go on this one, and hopefully we get to go another one soon.”

“It’s an atmosphere that a lot of guys haven’t been to,” said senior pitcher Jalen Latta. “A new atmosphere and a new time for a lot of people, so we’ll have a lot of fun.”

Unlike Dudal and Latta, senior outfielder Dane Bullock wasn’t part of the team in 2018, when the Cougars made it all the way to the national championship game. He was soaking up the atmosphere as he headed out to get on the bus.

“This is a cool experience, never seen anything like this,” Bullock said. “Definitely we don’t have people lined up on every road trip so this is a little different.”

“It’s just excitement, knowing that we’re going up there with a 1-out-of-6 chance to go to the World Series,” said head coach Greg Appleton. “It’s just pure excitement.”

Before the bus left the school, the team broke out with some impromptu karaoke with an old song by Men at Work. “Can you hear, can you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover,” they sang.

Was it a veiled warning for their first-round opponent, top-seeded Catawba? Maybe. After all, the Cougars scored 40 runs in their two-game sweep of North Georgia in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament finals.

CSU opens versus Catawba on Thursday night at 7 pm ET at Dillard Field on the campus of North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.

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