It wasn't that long ago that the UVU baseball team could only watch as it got passed over for a spot on the sport's biggest college stage.

In 2012, the Wolverines won an amazing 40 of their finals 41 games and finished with a spectacular 47-12 record -- only to be passed over when the selections for the NCAA tournament were made.

Those memories made Monday morning all the sweeter for those who remember the past as UVU -- the champions of the Western Athletic Conference -- found out it will be heading to Baton Rouge to take on host LSU Friday (1 p.m. MDT, ESPN3) in their first NCAA Regionals.

"The last time we did this, it was probably the worst day in coaching that I've had," Wolverine head coach Eric Madsen said. "To be able to know that we are in and just waiting to see who we are playing against ... to see your name pop up, that was outstanding."

Madsen explained that he still remembers those athletes who were part of that 2012 team and hopes they get to feel some pride in this year's accomplishment.

"I talked about it with my wife last night," Madsen said. "It was a devastating day. You still feel for those kids because they kind of jumpstarted this and got us where we need to be. This is a great thing for our program, both former and current players. It's awesome."

Wolverine senior pitcher Kyle Valgardson -- a Provo High grad -- was a walk-on that year and said he appreciate the groundwork that was laid by those previous teams.

"I knew a lot of the players and practiced with them," Valgardson said. "I suffered with them, although it wasn't quite the same because I didn't get to play. Then we had the opportunity two years ago when we were so close to winning the WAC. But being here now as a senior, it's a special feeling."

UVU athletic director Vince Otoupal told the team Monday exactly what he sees in the success of this squad.

"You guys are special," Otoupal said. "You guys are writing history right now. It's pretty cool. You guys have the backing of the university and you've now put us on the national stage with what you are doing -- and it is awesome."

The moment when the Wolverines actually got to see their school listed on the board brought the players out of their seats as they erupted, cheering and clapping.

"It was chills," Valgardson said. "LSU is college baseball in most of our eyes because it was the team to beat when most of us were in high school and middles school. Seeing that come up and hearing the stories about the crazy LSU fans and all that, it's going to be exciting."

None of it would've been possible if UVU hadn't put together an impressive run late in the season.

"We were at Chicago State and got on a roll," senior Mark Krueger said. "Things came together and we just bonded as a team this year. I think this is the closest group we've had since I've been here and it's been an unbelievable experience being here with these guys."

All of the players and coaches emphasized that it was a complete team effort that got the Wolverines the four wins they needed to take home the WAC title.

"It was exciting to see a group of guys come out and perform," Valgardson said. "Everyone hit they way they are supposed to hit to make the team win. Everyone pitched the way they were supposed to pitch. We had a lot of really clutch performances. It was a great thing to be a part of, great to experience."

Valgardson didn't hesitate when asked what his favorite moment was.

"Being on the mound when that last out was made, there is absolutely going to be nothing in my sports career that will match being there," Valgardson said. "Watching that last out, throwing my glove up, being on the bottom of a whole bunch of dudes and almost killing myself, that was the No. 1 highlight so far."

Madsen said it took some time for the reality to set in.

"It was very surreal," Madsen said. "When it hit, I think you don't realize all the work and everything that goes into. It being the first one was so outstanding for us as a program."

The satisfaction was one of a host of emotions the UVU players had as they accepted the tournament champion trophy.

"When we won it, it kind of set in that it was actually going to happen for us," senior infielder Jordan Schlehuber said. "We've worked so hard throughout the season just to get to this point, it's kind of a big relief -- and we're not done yet."

Madsen said he likes how is team is playing right now and the position it puts them in moving forward.

"Our guys went in and to play the way they did, with dominance and to win four straight, they are moving the direction they need to move," Madsen said. "I don't think you can put anything past these guys, the way they compete, the toughness, the grit. I'm very proud and happy for them for all of their hard work."

UVU knows it comes in without much fanfare but that's kind of how the Wolverines like it.

"If we play our game and really groove like we did in the WAC tournament, we're going to make some noise," Valgardson said. "We have nothing to lose. A lot of people count out UVU since we're not a well-known school as far as the national spotlight goes, but if we play the way we can, we can change that."

Expect the Wolverines to be ready when they take the field on Friday at 1 p.m. MDT in Baton Rouge.

"I trust these guys," Madsen said. "With the way they've been trained they are tough kids. They've done hard things throughout the year. Going into it, I'm not nervous at all about it. I know these kids will give it their best effort and that's what we want."

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at (801) 344-2555 or Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.