Cowboys still proud at season’s ending
The McNeese State baseball team’s season officially came to an end on Monday as the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee opted not to include the Cowboys in the 2017 tournament bracket.
The Southland Conference regular season champions missed out on a continued postseason after going 1-2 in the SLC tournament and a slew of upsets in conference tournaments across the country shrunk the bubble and squeezed the Cowboys out.
“It’s tough because I didn’t think Friday was the last game this team was going to play,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “We were a fun team, and this team did a lot of great things.
“It’s an imperfect system. It’s one of those things where people try to make the best decisions that they can. We forced them to make a difficult decision.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, Hill said the Cowboys have little to be sad about.
“Are our guys good enough to be in the mix?” Hill asked rhetorically. “Yep. They sure are. There’s no doubt. We just didn’t get picked. That doesn’t change our identity, it doesn’t change what we did, it doesn’t change any of those things. We just don’t get to play one more week.”
As much as this may sting in the moment, Hill said he knows that pain is only temporary.
The Cowboys will look back at what they accomplished this season and remember it proudly, Hill said.
“It’s not sad,” he said. “I’m really proud of them. If there was anything I could have done to let them keep going, I wanted to do that. But that’s just the way it works sometimes.
“When you look 365 days from now, or next fall when our kids are getting honored at a football game getting their rings, there won’t be any sadness there. It’s just the immediacy of the moment.”
Hill said the 2017 edition of the Cowboys set up the future of the program for success by forcing their name into the national conversation and setting expectations at a higher level.
Despite missing out on the tournament, the fact that the Cowboys were in the discussion for an at-large bid, something that has never happened at McNeese, is something to be proud of, Hill said.
“Any time you’ve been at Memorial Day watching the selection show and you’re disappointed, it puts a little fire in your belly,” he said. “We’ve seen what the process looks like. … Next year’s team is going to be its own team. They’re older, they’ve been through different things. You just have to let it happen organically.”
During the Cowboy’s and Cardinal’s first round matchup of the Southland Conference baseball tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Tx.