Opinion: Wave’s road to AAC Championship dependent on teamwork

Samantha Shafia, Associate Sports Editor

If they maintain solid teamwork throughout this 2015-2016 season, No. 15 Tulane baseball’s (33-14, 11-5 American Athletic Conference) chances of performing well in the AAC will continue to rise. 

The Green Wave’s progression into the regional NCAA competition will be tested by a few more series games and the AAC tournament. 

With its defeat of UNO (5-2), the Wave started its final progression of home games off on the right foot. Through the team’s united front, Tulane pushed past UNO, which had previously defeated Tulane 10-9 on March 9.

The team’s ability to endure and persevere through the pain will be an integral component to progressing through the conference tournament.

Finishing off the rest of the season will also be an important part in determining how far the Wave will advance through the conference tournament. With the fire and tenacity that the Wave has been showing throughout the past three weeks, this team has the momentum on its side to propel past its competitors. 

The bats have been hot this Tulane season. Junior third baseman Hunter Hope has hit 12 home runs and 33 RBIs and redshirt junior catcher Jeremy Montalbano has hit 10 home runs and 40 RBIs, leading the team with hitting. 

If on the rare occasion there is a lack of contact in a game, the pitchers like freshman left-handed pitcher Ross Massey, with his 1.81 ERA with eight wins and two losses on the season, or senior right-handed starting pitcher Emerson Gibbs with a 2.57 for five wins and two losses, will be there to back them up and keep the opponent’s run totals low. 

“When someone’s down, the other person picks them up,” junior right-handed pitcher Corey Merrill said. “There is just this constant flow throughout the team.” 

Though Tulane has proven to once again be a dominant force both offensively and defensively, the team will not be guaranteed wins in the upcoming conference and non-conference games.

With Tulane’s final opponents being Memphis, Nicholls State and Houston, there is no telling how these games could end due to the caliber of this conference. Memphis has not been swept by any team in the conference and has even competed well against USF, and Houston has already beat Tulane once in conference play.

If Tulane wishes to have its best chance in the AAC tournament, it must continue to perform as it has all season long: fervently. 

“Everyone in the league right now is playing really well, so I think it is going to come down to the last home stretch,” junior shortstop Stephen Alemais said. 

As the games season begins to come to a close, the Wave will have its most pressing competitions against major forces in this conference tournament. Without the home-field advantage for either team, this tournament will display the best qualities of each and every team.

Due to the high caliber of this conference, it will almost be anyone’s game; however, the Wave expects some fiercer competition from some teams. No. 21 East Carolina, the only other top 25 team in the AAC, is expected to bring its best performance as always to the tournament. 

At any rate, Tulane will continue to prepare in the same way it has over the course of the year by taking it one game at a time. 

“Every team has the opportunity to give you problems, … so the [game] that we want to prepare for is the first one that we play,” head coach David Pierce said. 

Though Tulane will prepare for the worst, the team will continue to strive for the best in this upcoming tournament play. The Wave will have to earn its imminent success either way. 

Tulane will start off its first game in the AAC tournament on May 24 in Clearwater, Florida.