CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) – As long as you have a chip and a chair, you have a chance.
It’s an old poker saying, but it has become the mantra behind the late-season success of Charlotte baseball.
“Doyle Brunson had passed away, and I’m a bit of a poker fan, and I saw a clip of him talking about how as long as you have a chip and a chair, you have a chance,” said head coach Robert Woodard. “You know, last week when we lost to Louisiana Tech the very first game of the tournament, you know, I just talked to the guys about that. I said somebody’s going to have to beat us twice to end our season.”
But no one would, as the Niners went on to win five straight games to capture the conference U.S.A. title and berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“A chip and a chair man – we ran with that,” said junior right-hander Wyatt Hudepohl. “I mean, we really ran with that, and it’s so true. You got one opportunity, and you would take full advantage of it, and that’s what we did.”
Charlotte’s conference title led to a trip to the Clemson Regional, where the Niners will have to get through two top-25 teams, including the hosting third-ranked Clemson Tigers.
“Earlier in the year, when we beat South Carolina, you can’t unsee what we did. You can’t unsee that,” said Hudepohl. “We beat the top team in the country; we beat coastal. We’ve played with Clemson and North Carolina, and we know what we have. We have a lot of guys that have been through other programs, and it’s kind of like a second opportunity for us, and we want to create our own legacy, and that’s what we’re playing with.”
Senior infielder Austin Knight is one of those guys that transferred into Charlotte coincidentally from Tennessee – the team the Niners will face first on Friday.
“I don’t think they’re prepared for what we can do,” Knight said. “So they… I think we’re the underdog in all of their minds, so I think we’re going to go out and shock some people this week.”
And the sophomore that leads the nation in home runs agrees.
“You know, we were 24-25 about three weeks ago, and we feel like we got nothing to lose,” said Cam Fisher, who reached long ball No. 30 May 27 against Middle Tennessee. “We feel like we got a chip on our shoulder, but we’re still at the table. We’re still thriving, we’re here still here, and it’s time to go prove a lot of people wrong.”