The NCAA District I selection committee announced yesterday the two challengers who will attempt to dethrone defending champion Harvard in the district tournament this weekend on Soldiers Field. Providence College and the University of New Hampshire will both have a shot at wresting the title from the red-hot Crimson squad.
Harvard earned a berth in the tournament with a dramatic seven-game Eastern League winning streak that gave the diamondmen the EIBL crown and a resulting bid to the district playoffs.
The Eastern League winner customarily gets the nod to play in the tourney, and the committee then selects anywhere from one to three other opponents from outside the league to face the champs. The winner of the District I playoffs goes on to the College world Series in Omaha, Neb., June 7-14.
Harvard's two rivals remain something of a mystery, as the squad has not faced either team this season. Providence, under the piloting of Alex Nahigian, who also is an assistant football coach under Joe Restic, went up against Harvard in the district tourney last year. The Crimson eliminated the Friars and won the tournament with an 8-1 drubbing at Soldiers Field.
"They [Providence] have most of their ball players back from last year," Crimson Coach Loyal Park said yesterday, "They're a veteran ball club, that's about all I know about them so far. I took the day off today."
Park earned the rest, as did his players, after yesterday's tense championship contest. It was Harvard's sixth game in as many days. The win over Princeton Sunday gave the team an unprecedented fourth straight EIBL title and thus a bid to the tournament.
Harvard will resume its schedule Saturday at noon as the squad faces Providence. The winner of that game gets a rest until sunday, while the loser must take on New Hampshire in a 3 p.m. game.
Unlike in past years, the Yankee conference winner was not selected to the tournament. Rhode Island, which copped the Yankee crown, did not have as good an overall record as New Hampshire, so the selection committee, headed by Northeastern coach John "Tinker" connelly, decided to bring the Wildcats into the tourney.
In its last four appearances in the District I tournament, Harvard has won it twice, in 1971 and 1973.