Not only do the Mavericks come into the eight-team, double-elimination national tournament brimming with confidence, they also experience on their side. Seventeen current team members, including Johnson and the majority of his pitching staff, saw action in last year’s CWS, in which MSU equaled its best-ever showing with a third-place finish.
Although the USA Baseball Training Complex is located some 1,200 miles from Mankato, it felt just like home to Johnson and his teammates when their bus pulled into the parking lot for the first time earlier this week.
They’ll need all the positive energy they can muster against a Grand Valley team that beat them 12-0 back on March 11 in Leesburg, Fla.
“It’s calming being here again,” Johnson said. “We know what to expect now. I woke up this morning excited to see the field again. I get goose bumps coming back. I just want to get on the field and start playing again.”