Road for UWL ends at NCAA III Midwest Regional title game

In mid-April UW-La Crosse had an overall record of 11-11. Qualifying for the NCAA III tournament may have been the last thing on their mind, let alone making a third straight trip to the national championships.

But here the Eagles were on Monday, having entered the day needing just two wins to advance to Appleton for a third straight season.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We’ve used that mentality over the years,” said head coach Chris Schwarz. “Not that we’re not trying to win baseball games early in the year, but we’re trying to learn and trying to grow to find out who we are as a team. And then finding that moment where we kind of get hot and get rolling. That’s what we did this year and I kind of think that is who we are as a program.”

The Eagles didn’t have an answer for Concordia Chicago, losing to the Cougars 14-0 on Sunday and then falling 17-3 on Monday in the NCAA III Midwest Regional Championship game.

UWL finshes the season with an overall record of 31-19, the fourth straight year with 30 wins.

Over the past four years, the program has a record of 132-63 with four NCAA III tournament appearances, three regional championship game appearances, two appearances at the national championships, and a national runner-up finish in 2015.

“The culture that UW-La Crosse baseball is, the tradition that we have and carry on, these seniors were part of building that culture and creating that culture. Not just carrying it on from other people, they were part of building the culture that we have,” said Schwarz.

Outfielder/designated hitter Carter Hoffman was one of three seniors in Monday’s batting lineup for the Eagles.

“The four year seniors that I had the pleasure of being with, I would most definitely say that we have left our mark. If there’s anything to come from a loss like this it’s taking into fact that if you look at the success we’ve had and to just be proud of that more than anything.”

Senior pitcher Caleb Boushley leaves UWL with many of the program’s season and career records to go with those deep postseason runs.

“The accomplishments are cool but it’s more the culture of the team and how close knit we all are, that’s probably the coolest part. It’s a family, we are all brothers. I loved every second of it.”

The departing seniors will leave many huge holes to fill, but that’s nothing new for Schwarz.

“The program continues to move forward. We’ve lost good players over the past couple of years, especially last year, but these guys here have earned every inning that they’ve gotten in the postseason. They definitely belong here. We’re going to move forward, we’re going to lose some good players again and we’re going to have a good group of guys who are going to earn their way into the postseason again.”