The field has been narrowed down to 16 teams, and after this weekend (weather permitting) we will have eight college baseball teams punching their tickets for Omaha. The College Baseball Super Regionals are a best of 3 series, with the higher seed hosting the lower seed. The weekend series’ will determine who gets a trip to the College World Series and a shot at the national championship.
Weekend Series Previews
Tempe Super Regional
Arizona State (50-8) vs. Arkansas (43-19)
Predicted Winner: Arizona State
The ASU Sun Devils have had an amazing season, despite playing in perhaps the deepest conference in the nation. The Pac-10 was no joke this year, but ASU navigated it almost flawlessly. Utilizing above average offense and stellar pitching, ASU went 3-0 in their regional defeating Hawaii twice and Milwaukee once.
Arkansas comes from a notoriously strong conference as well, the SEC, but their lack of depth, particularly in the bullpen leaves them with almost no shot against ASU. Needing a “do or die” win against Washington State last night, they performed beautifully, but again, the pitching is a big concern. Their bats can hang against subpar pitching, but against teams with a solid rotation and bullpen, they will struggle to win a best of 3 series.
Clemson Super Regional
Clemson (41-22) vs. Alabama (41-23)
Predicted Winner: Clemson
This matchup features a pair of #2 seeds from their respective regionals. Clemson has the bats to compete with Alabama in a three game series, but their bullpen will be tested, especially if Alabama’s bats get to the starters early. Middle relief will be asked to go a long ways which should make for some interesting baseball in the later innings. If the starters can hold their own, I think that Clemson has a slight edge.
Alabama’s best chance at winning this series is with their pitching. Early on in the regionals, their pitching was masterful, but as the weekend wore on, the arms got tired and started to give up big runs. In a three game series, fatigue shouldn’t be a factor, especially with a week off since their last games. Pitching wins championships, but hitting wins short series’.
Charlottesville Super Regional
Virginia (50-12) vs. Oklahoma (47-15)
Predicted Winner: Oklahoma
Virginia can beat up on weaker pitching, but that goes for just about every team that’s made it this far. Posting 28 runs in their first two games of the regional, Virginia seemed unstoppable. But then they faced some teams with decent pitching and the wheels came off – if only for a game or two. Held to just 10 runs in the final two games, they eked out a win over St. Johns. Not a good sign for a team looking to advance to Omaha.
Oklahoma showed some poise on their way to a berth in the super regionals. They beat perennial Omaha favorite North Carolina twice and they did it with pitching. The staff allowed a meager 14 runs in 3 games, en route to some closely contested victories, but a weekend sweep nonetheless.
Myrtle Beach Super Regional
Coastal Carolina (55-8) vs. South Carolina (46-15)
Predicted Winner: South Carolina
This series is essentially a home game for both teams although Coastal Carolina is technically the host. Coastal Carolina put up the runs in what was arguably the weakest regional pool of last weekend. But on the other hand, they got crushed by a very subpar College of Charleston. In order to win this series, they will need to continue hitting 1-9 because South Carolina brings the lumber as well.
South Carolina was a carbon copy of itself all weekend long. Consistent offense (9, 9, 10) and excellent pitching (5, 4, 2) on its way to a weekend sweep. In a long series, South Carolina would have the definite advantage, but in a short series – anything can happen and usually does. If the consistent play of South Carolina’s pitching staff can keep the bats of Coastal Carolina quiet, they should have enough offense to win the series.
Austin Super Regional
Texas (49-11) vs. TCU (49-11)
Predicted Winner: Texas
This lone star state matchup features two teams that have matching records and had matching outcomes in their respective regionals. However, the edge has to go to the team who has done it against stiffer competition all year long – the Longhorns. Texas and ASU have been battling for number 1 all year long, and should have a chance to decide that once and for all in Omaha. Pitching is their strength and speed is their weapon. Look for an easy road to Omaha for Texas.
TCU’s only chance – and it’s a slim one – is to keep Texas off the base paths. They have the bats to compete with Texas if the pitching is equal, but it’s not. Therefore, they need to limit the speed game of the Longhorns while continuing to outslug their opponents. It’s a long shot which is why the edge goes to Texas.
Tallahassee Super Regional
Florida State (45-17) vs. Vanderbilt (45-18)
Predicted Winner: Vanderbilt
This matchup features two teams who are no strangers to the super regionals – or to Omaha for that matter. Florida State showed superb pitching in the regionals, albeit against relatively weak opponents, on their way to a 3-0 record. The bats never came alive like they normally do, but fortunately, they didn’t need to. Vanderbilt is a much more potent offensive team than the Seminoles faced last weekend which brings up a little bit of concern.
Vanderbilt knocked off top Seeded Louisville on their way to the super regional. The pitching is suspect at times and Commodores should be reluctant to hand over anything to their bullpen – especially with a slim lead. However, their offense should be enough to overcome the marginal pitching of the Seminoles in a short series.
Los Angeles Super Regional
UCLA (46-13) vs. Cal State Fullerton (45-16)
Predicted Winner: UCLA
This sunny southern California matchup features two of the best teams in Cali. UCLA played in the tough Pac-10 and although finished second to ASU, had a strong enough RPI to gain a national seed. Their experience and tough competition will prove to be crucial as they face another experienced college playoff team in Fullerton. UCLA had potentially one of the toughest regionals, and they came through with flying colors, defeating last year’s champ LSU. Strong pitching (6 runs in 3 games) got them this far, but it is their bats (27 runs in 3 games) that will take them to Omaha
No disrespect to CS Fullerton, but they just don’t have the guns to hang with UCLA. Always dominant in their own division, they skated to a regional appearance and then mailed in their first game, resulting in a disappointing loss. They showed heart in coming back from a first round loss but their offense has a tendency to go into hiding. Pitching is fairly strong but there are too many good hitters in the Bruin’s lineup.
Gainesville Super Regional
Florida (45-15) vs. Miami (43-18)
Predicted Winner: Florida
Neither wind nor rain nor any other kind of game delay could keep Miami out of the Super Regionals. The last team to make it in due to rainouts and delays, they finally earned their spot against Florida. Miami has the bats to compete with just about anyone, even if they perform at 50% of their weekend average, they still put up 5 runs a game. Their pitching is also solid, although the staff was essentially a “no-show” in their win over Dartmouth and loss to Texas A&M. They do have an overall advantage though in a short series.
Florida had a very easy road to the super regional and breezed through it relatively easily. The offense got stronger as the weekend continued (7, 10, 15) as did the pitching (3, 2, 0). Florida looks as good as anyone right now and should be a lock to win against the Hurricanes, especially with a rested staff and healthy offense.