Niagara’s Strategy to Secure First-Ever Conference Championship and NCAA Bid

His arm rubbery and his brain exhausted, Zach Cameron paused momentarily when he saw the sign from the mound. But after five years together, Cameron’s learned not to question catcher Matt Ward’s decisions, so he reared back and threw. Ward called a curveball, a pitch Cameron says is the worst in his arsenal. The MAAC Reliever of the Year needed one out to secure Niagara’s first-ever conference championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament, but he had thrown 85 pitches in six innings over three days. It turns out Ward was right again.

Cameron got Fairfield’s top hitter, Dean Ferrara, who had a .387 average, to line out to center fielder Nick Groves to lock up a 10-6 win and to guarantee at least two more games in his college career. Now Niagara gears up to face No. 11 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Friday on its home field in Stillwater to begin the NCAA tournament. If the Purple Eagles have any hopes of pulling an upset, Cameron and the rest of the pitching staff will need to be the reason.

Niagara has relied upon a strategy that requires a lot of arms and very little room for error. Coach Rob McCoy won’t wait for his pitchers to fall into peril, instead, he’ll make a call to the bullpen. Against the Cowboys, who ranked 15th nationally with 111 home runs and have 232 extra-base hits this season, this strategy will be crucial.

“I’ve got a good strategy that we’re going to use in Game 1 and it’s going to involve a handful of arms and we’re gonna use everybody,” McCoy said. “The thing that I can do is put our pitchers in the best situation possible to succeed. And in most cases, against opponents like this, that can hit like this, is limited views. The fewer times a hitter of this quality sees a pitcher, the better it will be for us.”

In conclusion, as Niagara prepares to face Oklahoma State in the NCAA tournament, their strategic use of multiple pitchers will be key to securing success against a formidable opponent. With a strong batting lineup and a focus on minimizing scoring opportunities, the Purple Eagles aim to make their mark in the postseason.