Fayetteville Regional: Taking a closer look at NJIT
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For the fourth straight season, Arkansas has earned the right to stay home for the postseason. The 2021 Fayetteville Regional features Nebraska, Northeastern and NJIT.
Before play begins Friday, HawgBeat is taking a closer look at all three visiting teams. We conclude the series with the 4 seed, NJIT…
Record: 26-22 (23-17 America East)
Thanks to a few injuries, NJIT got off to a rough 3-12 start and looked like it might not even finish in the top half of the America East standings, which would mean missing the conference tournament. However, as players got healthy, the Highlanders got hot and ended up finishing second in the America East in the regular-season with a 23-17 conference mark.
Once in the tournament, they won their first two games in dramatic fashion and then received the automatic bid when bad weather forced the cancelation of the championship game against regular-season champion Stony Brook less than three innings in. NJIT got the bid because it hadn’t lost a game in the tournament.
Head coach: Robbie McClellan (3rd season)
A native of Kansas who played college ball at Arizona State, McClellan began his coaching career as a pitching coach at Chandler Gilbert C.C. in Arizona. After four seasons there, he left to take a job at NJIT.
McClellan was an assistant for seven years before being tabbed the interim head coach in 2019. The interim tag was removed last year, which was cut short by the pandemic, so this is his first full season as the full-time head coach.
If you didn’t realize NJIT was a Division I program, that’s because it hasn’t been one for very long. It made the jump to DI in 2007 and has bounced around conferences, first playing as an independent and then joining the Great West, Atlantic Sun and, finally, America East.
Located in downtown Newark, N.J., a stone’s throw away from Manhattan, NJIT is known for its academics and premier engineering program. Without a home field, the Highlanders played their games at a Division III school’s field in a neighboring town.
This is the first postseason appearance for NJIT, which has produced just one MLB player in its history - Mark Leiter Jr. A 22nd-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, he is the son of former big leaguer Mark Leiter and nephew of Al Leiter, which makes him cousins with Vanderbilt star Jack Leiter.
Projected Starting Lineup
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