While the Siena Saints have been acclimating to their surroundings at host TCU, one local son is right at home in the NCAA Division I Regionals.
Virginia junior second baseman Branden Cogswell, a Shenendehowa grad, and the rest of the Cavaliers will host the Charlottesville Regional at Davenport Field, where they went 29-3 this season.
“We were lucky enough to get a national seed this year, and I think we deserved that after the year we had [at 44-13],” Cogswell said. “As a team, we love playing here at Davenport. It’s an advantage to play at home because you’re comfortable with the ballpark, you’ve got a good fan base, and that’s real important.”
The Cavaliers begin Friday’s regional play at 2 p.m. on ESPN3 against No. 4 Bucknell (30-19-1). In the 7 p.m. game on ESPNU, No. 2 Arkansas (38-23) will face No. 3 Liberty (41-16).
It’s commonplace for teams to be up against three unfamiliar opponents in regionals, but Virginia was fortunate enough to get a look at Liberty in an 8-2 win on May 7. In that game, Cogswell doubled, scored a run, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and moved another into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
On the season, Cogswell is hitting .295 with eight doubles and a triple through 57 games (56 starts). He has scored 38 runs and driven in 16 with an on-base percentage of .396.
He turned in a fielding percentage of .989 after making the move from shortstop to second base to start the season. Last year, he was an All-ACC second-team shortstop, and this season, he was named All-ACC first-team second baseman.
“I’m very happy with the results this year, even though my numbers are down, compared to last year — a lot of guys are,” Cogswell said. “I’m very happy with how the season went, how I changed positions, and I’m comfortable at second base now. It’s a great accolade to have — being second-team shortstop last year and first-team second baseman this year. It’s great individually, and I’ll reflect on it down the road, but right now, we’re focusing, as a team, on winning a championship.”
Virginia finished the regular season by dropping two of three road games to Wake Forest. In the ACC tournament, the Cavs lost by a run to Maryland before edging North Carolina by one, then were eliminated by Florida State, 6-4. That puts them at 2-4 through their last six games.
“That’s already been shaken off,” Cogswell said. “The season starts over, come Friday. It started over as soon as we got back from the ACC tournament. You don’t let results of the past affect you.”
The immediate past, maybe. Earlier in the season, however, Cogswell spoke of how getting swept in last year’s Super Regional by Mississippi State made this team hungry to get back to Omaha for the College World Series.
As hungry as they are, though, he said they have to avoid thinking about the implications of the game and just play the game.
“We were talking about winning a national championship this year. The hunger is there, it’s been there all year,” Cogswell said. “The good thing about now is the season kind of starts over. What happened in the past doesn’t really matter. As a team, if we make it more than a baseball game, people start pressing, and you don’t get the best results. You have to make sure you go out there and play relaxed, just like it’s any other baseball game.”