Josh Pigozzo (Credit: SEU Athletics)

Southeastern Fire Seek Another NAIA Title; Tampa Spartans Host Super Regional

Josh Pigozzo (Credit: SEU Athletics)
Josh Pigozzo (Credit: SEU Athletics)

LAKELAND, Fla. – Perhaps the only thing that has not gone right this season for Southeastern University is that the Fire did not bring the sun and warmth with them to Lewiston, Idaho, for the NAIA National Championship.

When coach Adrian Dinkel spoke to the Tampa Free Press on Wednesday afternoon, he bemoaned the 50-degree temps. While Mother Nature might push the mercury into low-70s at times during the 10-team and week-long tournament, the Fire may have to provide the heat.

Dinkel’s team has had no problem doing just that. After all, this is the sixth straight season SEU has made its way to Idaho with a chance to a title. The Fire succeeded in 2018 and 2022.

Read: Two Polk State Softball Players Named All-Citrus Conference

“We have a lot of guys who have done it for three years and they have the ability to control the emotions,” said Dinkel, who is 407-56 in his eight seasons in Lakeland. “When we go into these tournaments it is kind a like another day at work. It is nice to have leaders like that and guys that have done it long enough.”

The Fire, 51-6 and having occupied the top spot in the rankings since the season’s first pitch, play their first game Saturday (6 p.m. ET) against the winner of Friday’s matchup between Kansas Wesleyan and Arizona Christian.

“You better get a lot of breaks,” said Dinkel, of what it will take to be the last team standing. “The best team doesn’t always win it. We were the best team in the country last year and we didn’t win it. I think we have to catch some breaks and control the things that we are able to control.”

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The Fire were in control during last week’s opening round of the tournament in Lincoln, Neb. where they outscored the opposition 28-6 in winning all three of their games.

“I would say that was the first time all year that we actually put all phases together,” said Dinkel. “That’s what makes us feel real good going into this. We have played really good baseball at the right time and left (Lincoln) with our heads held high.”  

SEU is hitting .317 as a team and has seven regulars over .300, including Palm Harbor’s (East Lake High) Josh Pigozzo, who checks in at .337. A pitching staff that has 2.72 ERA is paced by Darien Smith. The Florida Gulf Coast transfer and Sun Conference pitcher of the year is 12-0 with a 1.81 ERA.

UT Hosts Super Regional

The Tampa Spartans swept their three-game South Regional last weekend by convincingly (45-11) defeating Savannah State and Lee University (twice). Joe Urso’s team, which also celebrated the coach’s 1,000th win last weekend, will host the Super Regional, a best-of-three against Embry-Riddle beginning Friday (6 p.m.).

There will be a single game Saturday (1 p.m.) against the Eagles and, if necessary, a second game (5 p.m.) to determine who advances to Cary, N.C. for the DII College World Series that gets underway June 1.

Read: Former UT Spartans’ Pitcher Jordan Leasure Impressing In Rookie Season With White Sox

The top-ranked Spartans (46-7) are 26-2 at home. Should they advance to the CWS, they would seek a ninth national title. Their eight championships, with the most recent in 2019, are second in DII annals behind Florida Southern, which has collected nine titles.

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