NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Last year, Tulane finally got to the NCAA Tournament after a seven year absence. Now the expectations are sky-high in 2016.
The Wave return seven of their nine top hitters from 2015. Plus, 59 of 60 starts on the pitchers mound. Collegiate Baseball ranks Tulane 19th in the country in their preseason poll. In David Pierce's first season as the coach his squad finished 35-25, now many expect a jump of 5-10 wins. Predictions his team can handle.
"We definitely embrace that. That's a challenge for us," said Tulane Head Baseball Coach David Pierce. "It's a challenge and an opportunity, it's not pressure. It's much more about opportunity of seeing how good we could actually be. Year two, the learning curve from what the players expect from us, what we expect from them. The city, the domestic side, all that stuff has changed. It's really neat when you watch the upperclassmen working with the younger kids. They're helping teach on the field. They know the calls, they know the coverages, they know how we coach."
Tulane's opponent tonight, Illinois, had the best record in the country last year with 49 wins. They lost in a super regional to Vanderbilt. Not a cupcake to open the 2016 campaign.