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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Tournament sweep sends Panthers to Nebraska

It’s official; Eastern’s baseball team is in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers (27-28) earned a fourth-seed in the Lincoln, Neb. regional after going 4-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

The Panthers will play against the no. 1-seed Nebraska (40-14-1) on Friday. The Huskers have competed in the tournament nine times in the past 10 years.

Eastern walked away with its second OVC title in nine years since joining the league in 1997. The Panthers first title was in 1999.

Eastern has not played Nebraska before, but they have connections.

“We know people who have played (Nebraska), so we’ll be on the phone all afternoon getting scouting reports,” Head Coach Jim Schmitz said.

However, the Panthers will not base their attention solely on the opposing team.

“This year we’ve changed the focus of what other teams are doing, and (now) focus our attention on ourselves,” Schmitz said.

To start the tournament, Eastern beat Tennessee Tech and Samford; both of which swept their three game regular season series against the Panthers.

Eastern advanced to the championship game by snapping Jacksonville State’s 17-game winning streak.

“Jacksonville State was the one,” Schmitz said. “We knew that was the one we had to win, and after that, we knew SEMO had to beat us twice.”

After the Panthers were awarded the OVC trophy on Saturday, junior infielder Jordan Tokarz was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Tokarz went 9-for-19 with seven runs batted in during the four tournament games. He hit three doubles in the 7-4 victory against SEMO in the championship game.

“It feels good winning MVP, but the bigger award is winning the tournament,” Tokarz said. ” Brett (Nommensen) could have won MVP, and I would have been just as happy.”

Nommensen went 8-for-15 and scored eight runs throughout the tournament. Both players were named to the All Tournament Team.

Tokarz, however, is a transfer student from Elgin Community College. While making his decision, he realized how the school fit his academic goals and he quickly became comfortable with the coaching staff.

With an OVC championship and an MVP award under his belt, Tokarz said he made the right choice.

Molly Clutter can be reached at 581-7944 or at [email protected].

Tournament sweep sends Panthers to Nebraska

Tournament sweep sends Panthers to Nebraska

Junior infielder Jordan Tokarz hoists the championship trophy from the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Monday in Lantz Arena after ESPN announced Eastern’s placement as a fourth-seed in the Lincoln Neb. Regional of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Tokarz wa

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