Updated: May 30
By Ashleigh Cash, Noah Darling, Sydney Fields, Mark Garland, Doug Kyle, AJ Sessions, Jase Stanton, and Monty Taylor
For the second year in a row, the staff at College Baseball Central spent Selection Monday preparing breakdowns of each team in the 64-team field. Whether you’re here to learn about the teams in your school’s region or pick and choose your favorites to go to Omaha, this is your one stop shop for the NCAA Tournament.
Host: #1 Wake Forest
1. Wake Forest (47-10, ACC Regular Season Champions)
2. Maryland (41-19, Big Ten Champions)
3. Northeastern (43-13)
4. George Mason (34-25, Atlantic 10 Champions)
After leading the country in RPI and winning their first regular season conference championship since 1963, Wake Forest is the #1 overall seed in this year’s tournament. The Demon Deacons are led by their stellar pitching staff, which led the country with a 2.75 ERA, almost a full run better than the next Power 5 school in Tennessee. Rhett Lowder, back-to-back ACC Pitcher of the Year, is the ace of their staff. The Deacs haven’t lost a single one of his starts. Josh Hartle and Seth Keener are also both Top 15 in the country with sub-2.50 ERAs. Sean Sullivan, another pitcher with experience pitching in both the rotation and out of the bullpen, is 23rd in the country with a 2.56 ERA. Their bullpen is led by closer Camden Minacci and Michael Massey.
But Wake Forest isn’t just pitching. The middle of their lineup boasts two of the best bats in the entire country in the form of sophomore first baseman Nick Kurtz (23 HR) and junior third baseman Brock Wilken (27 HR). Second baseman Justin Johnson and center fielder Tommy Hawke are also players to watch in that Demon Deacon lineup. If they can carry their pitching success over into the NCAA Tournament, there’s no reason Wake Forest should fall short of a Super Regional.
The Terps ran right through the Big Ten for the 2nd season in a row, this time finishing with their first Big Ten Championship in program history. Head Coach Rob Vaughn feels good about the experience his team has had on the road this season, including playing at Ole Miss and in front of big Nebraska and Iowa crowds during the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland is 41-19 on the year and ranks 35th in RPI. The Terps struggled in non-conference play with losses to Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and West Virginia; however, Maryland has shown no signs of struggle in conference play for the past two seasons. Maryland is led offensively by Nick Lorusso, who has 99 RBIs on the season, which leads the country. Pitching has been a bit of an inconsistency for Maryland, although Nick Dean and Jason Savacool make for great starting arms, while David Falco has emerged out of the bullpen for the Big Ten Champions.
Northeastern gets in the NCAA Tournament after being ranked 31st in RPI. Early season wins include a three game sweep of Regional host Indiana State and a road win at Duke. They also beat Boston College, UConn, and Maryland to earn that at-large bid despite falling to CAA champion UNC-Wilmington this past weekend. The Huskies dominant pitching staff have a 3.46 ERA, second in the country only to Wake Forest. Freshman Aivan Cabral (9-3, 2.26 ERA) and junior Wyatt Scott (6-3, 3.80 ERA) will lead Northeastern as starters, while All-CAA relievers Jake Gigliott (22 app, 3.02 ERA)i and Griffin Young (24 apps, 2.15 ERA) will be the primary arms coming out of the bullpen.
The Huskie lineup features five hitters that have an OPS over 1.000. Mike Sirota, Cam Maldonado, Danny Crossen, Tyler MacGregor, and Alex Lane have all hit over .325 and have double digit home runs. Maldonado was the CAA Freshman of the Year while hitting .357 with 13 doubles, 5 triples, and 13 home runs. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also stole 31 bases in 32 attempts. Sirota and MacGregor led the team with 18 home runs while Lane led the way with 57 RBIs. The combination of pitching and powerful hitting makes Northeastern a very dangerous team.
The George Mason Patriots qualified for the A-10 Tournament in Richmond as the #6 seed and earned the automatic bid after playing four games in two days this past weekend. Ranked 176th in RPI, Mason is playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2014. George Mason isn’t a big home run hitting team, preferring to get on-base, stringing hits together, and stealing bases to generate offense. Connor Dykstra is their leading home run hitter with just 8 on the year. South Trimple leads the team with a .332 average and 17 doubles, while Reese Woody leads the team in RBIs. Mason has stolen 158 bases this year and features four players with 20 or more robberies.
While the Patriots finished 6th in the conference standings, they led the Atlantic 10 conference in ERA and opposing batting average. Chad Gartland and Ben Shields are Mason’s primary starters, while Kyle Menaker made his first start of the year on Saturday in a do-or-die game against St. Louis. The junior went 7 innings and gave up just one run as George Mason forced a rematch to determine a conference champion. In the second game, freshmen Logan Rumberg and Owen Stewart combined to hold the Billikens to just two runs. The pitch depth and conference tournament experience will be crucial as Mason looks to surprise top teams in the NCAA Tournament.
In order to win the Regional, they’ll need to get on-base and steal bases consistently while providing quality pitching as they’ve done all season.
Host: #2 Florida
1. Florida (44-14, SEC Regular Season Champions)
2. UConn (43-15, Big East Regular Season Champions)
3. Texas Tech (39-21)
4. Florida A&M (29-28, SWAC Champions)
The SEC Regular Season Champion Florida Gators enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 44-14 (20-10) and are set up to comfortably be a national seed. With a 30-6 record at home, beating this Gators squad will be a tall task for anyone.
One of the few teams in baseball with a true 1-2 punch in the starting rotation with Brandon Sproat and Hurston Waldrep followed by a hit-or-miss Jac Caglianone in the Sunday role, the Gators can win on any given weekend with just their starting pitching alone. Throw in Brandon Neely, who has been one of the best closers in baseball to end the season, and this pitching staff is set up nicely. Ryan Slater, Cade Fisher, Philip Abner, and Tyler Nesbitt add length to the bullpen as well.
Then we get to the offense, which is one of the most dynamic in college baseball. Florida has six players with double digit home runs, led by Caglianone with 28. Wyatt Langford, Josh Rivera, and Cade Kurland have all had dynamic campaigns, lengthening this Gator lineup. BT Riopelle, coming off a strong conference tournament, will look to lead this team from behind the plate. When this team is at its best, they might be the best in baseball. They only lost two series all year (swept @ SC, lost 2/3 @ Texas A&M) and had series wins against Miami, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, and a sweep of Vanderbilt. The Gators have all the tools to make a deep run this postseason.
UConn won the Big East regular season with a 15-5 conference record, but ultimately fell to Xavier in the conference tournament. The Huskies ranked 22nd in RPI. David Smith and Korey Morton are a terror on the basepaths with 38 and 21 stolen bases respectively. The big bats in the lineup, however, Ben Huber and Luke Broadhurt. The two Huskies are both hitting above .320 with a combined 34 doubles, 30 home runs, and 113 RBIs on the season. UConn led the Big East in batting average, runs, doubles, walks, and stolen bases.
While not as impressive as their hitting statistics, the Huskies featured a very good pitching staff in 2023. They were third in the conference in ERA and first in strikeouts. The strength of their staff comes in the form of a three-headed monster coming out of the bullpen. Justin Willis, the closer, is 3-3 with 3.32 ERA while Zach Fogell (8-0, 1.74 ERA) and Brady Afthim (3.75 ERA, 25 games) both provide difficult obstacles for hitters. UConn will go only as far as this bullpen takes them.
The Red Raiders rode a Big 12 Tournament run from a potential wait on the bubble to feeling really good about their tournament chances. That feeling was justified, and Tim Tadlock’s squad is again hitting the road this postseason. Texas Tech has historically struggled to win ballgames away from home, relying on the long ball can be tough in bigger ballparks. Gainesville is a place where they might be able to find success, albeit against tough pitching.
The Red Raiders are led offensively by Gavin Kash who has 24 homers and 81 RBIs on the season. Kevin Bazzell is another bat to keep an eye on. On the mound, the Red Raiders have enjoyed the emergence of Mason Molina, while Zane Petty has stepped up to join him. The Red Raiders benefited from a fairly easy non-conference schedule early on, but picked up a key series victory over Iowa before going 12-12 in conference play. Tech found a bit of a groove in Arlington, adding 2 more wins to their resume to feel good about their tournament status. If Tech is able to square up the baseball, they can run any pitcher out of the game in a hurry.
The Rattlers enter the tournament after an upset run through the SWAC tournament, earning the conference’s auto bid. FAMU produced an 18-12 record through conference play, with just 1 win against the RPI top 100, defeating Florida Gulf Coast but dropping the series. The Rattlers are 5-1 in the postseason, though, and survived uncomfortability in the SWAC tournament, defeating favorite Alabama State twice to come out of the losers bracket and beat Bethune Cookman in the final. The Rattlers are led offensively by Sebestian Greico and Jared Weber, while Hunter Viets holds things down on the mound.
Players to watch: Jac Caglianone (Florida), Wyatt Langford (Florida, BT Riopelle (Florida), Ben Huber (UConn), Gavin Kash (Texas Tech), Sebastian Greico (Florida A&M)
Host: #3 Arkansas
1. Arkansas (41-16, SEC regular season champion)
2. TCU (37-22, Big 12 Champion)
3. Arizona (33-24)
4. Santa Clara (35-18, West Coast Conference champion)
Third seeded Arkansas shares the regular season SEC title with two seeded Florida. The Razorbacks have battled through injury and adversity all season, but continue to just win. Arkansas lost in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament to Texas A&M after beating No. 5 LSU. The Hogs are hosting for the tenth time in program history and welcome Santa Clara, TCU, and Arizona to Fayetteville.
Jace Bohrofen leads the team with 14 home runs with Jared Wegner right behind with 13. Caleb Cali leads the way in batting average with a .323 and Kendall Diggs has remained the clutch guy, bringing in 58 runs.
Arkansas has seen the injury bug a time (or five) this season, especially in the bullpen. Hagen Smith continues to be their ace, holding down a 2.69 ERA and an 8-1 record. Gage Wood has become a staple in the later innings, and Brady Tygart is slowly making his comeback from injury.
The Horned Frogs looked really impressive to open the season in Arlington, and then also looked really impressive to END the season in Arlington, with a Big 12 Championship. In February, the Horned Frogs picked up wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt but soon struggled with consistency due to a tough schedule. This schedule was by design, though. Kirk Saarloos believes in the challenge of a non-conference slate to better set up for the postseason.
So far, it has ended in TCU celebrating a Big 12 Tournament Championship. Despite a losing record in conference play, TCU’s RPI sits at 33. The Horned Frogs seem to have found their groove at the right time, led offensively by Brayden Taylor and Elijah Nunez, the Frogs have one of the better lineups in the country, and when they’re clicking they are absolutely capable of going as far as they want in this tournament.
Arizona finished as the runner-up in the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament. They had 20 wins against Top 100 RPI teams and the 25th toughest schedule in the country. The Wildcats got hot towards the end of the season with wins over Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Arizona offense is led by Mac Bingham and Chase Davis who both have a .369 batting average. Bingham owns 90 hits, 20 doubles, and 68 runs. Davis leads the team in home runs with 21. The pitching staff is where things get dicey for the ‘Cats, none of their pitchers hold a below 3.40 ERA. Arizona will have to bring their best bats to the Fayetteville Regional.
The Santa Clara Broncos got the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament when they won the West Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday. This is their first dance since 1997. The Broncos went a perfect 4-0 in their tournament and are riding an 8 game winning streak. They’ve also won 17 of their last 20. Dawson Brigman was hot for them in the tournament, he was named Most Outstanding Player after hitting .368 with a home run, 7 RBIs, and 5 runs scored. Efrain Manzo leads the Broncos with 17 homers and 52 runs scored and 54 RBIs. Skylar Hales has been solid on the mound, holding a 2.81 ERA with 51.1 innings pitched. The Bronco offense can cover them in any situation they’re put in.
Players to watch: Jared Wegner (Arkansas, Caleb Cali (Arkansas), Hagen Smith (Arkansas), Brayden Taylor (TCU), Elijah Nunez (TCU), Chase Davis (Arizona), Dawson Brigman (Santa Clara).
Host: #4 Clemson
1. Clemson (43-17, ACC champions)
2. Tennessee (38-19)
3. Charlotte (34-26, Conference USA Champions)
4. Lipscomb (36-24, A-Sun Champions )
As Wake Forest Head Coach Tom Walter said last weekend, “Clemson is the hottest team on the planet.” On April 6th, the Tigers were 17-14 and 2-8 in the ACC. Since then, they’ve gone 26-3, and are currently on a 16 game winning streak dating back to April 29th. After winning the ACC Tournament, the Tigers are returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 and are hosting their first Regional since being the 10-seed in 2018 (they lost to Vanderbilt in that Regional).
The Tigers are led by two-way star Caden Grice, the ACC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, who has 16 home runs and 63 RBIs batting clean-up while going 8-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 appearances on the mound. Other offensive stars include ACC Freshman of the Year Cam Cannarella who is hitting .386 as the lead-off man and providing stellar defense in center field. Billy Amick, who will primarily DH and play 1B when Grice is pitching, was the back-to-back ACC Player of the Week going into the ACC Tournament and has provided protection for Grice in the Clemson lineup. Amick is hitting .467 since their last loss, with 6 home runs and 32 RBI in that time frame.
The Volunteers entered Hoover knowing that they needed at least one win to secure a hosting spot. Instead, the Vols lost to Texas A&M and were eliminated from the SEC Tournament. Tennessee has had an up and down season and has really struggled away from home. The Vols have just five wins outside of Lindsey Nelson Stadium this season, and those struggles started early, with losses to Grand Canyon and Arizona to open up the season.
Tennessee picked up 16 SEC wins but lost 14, including getting swept by Missouri and Arkansas. However, the Vols did pick up key series victories over Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and South Carolina to close out the regular season and boost their RPI to 20. Tennessee is led offensively by Jared Dickey, Zane Denton, Christian Moore, and Blake Burke. The strength of Tennessee is on the mound, as the three headed monster of Chase Dollander, Chase Burns, and Drew Beam await any opponent in the NCAA Tournament. Andrew Lindsey has come on as a starter late as Chase Burns has become more of a stable bullpen piece for Tony Vitello’s team. If Tennessee can play with the talent that they have, they can beat anyone in the country.
The Charlotte 49ers earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after beating Dallas Baptist in the Conference USA Tournament Championship game. Ranked 67th in RPI, Charlotte does have multiple impressive wins over South Carolina and Dallas Baptist plus a midweek upset of Coastal Carolina on their resume. The 49ers boast the nation’s home run king in sophomore outfielder Cam Fisher, who led the country with 30 home runs on the year. To win a regional, they’ll need to get more from their pitching staff as their offense should be able to score runs.
The Lipscomb Bisons lost their first two games in the A-Sun Tournament before reeling off three straight wins over Jacksonville, Liberty, and Florida Gulf Coast to claim the conference’s automatic bid. Ranked 90th in RPI, this is the first time Lipscomb is going to an NCAA Regional since 2015. The Bisons’ most impressive win this year was an extra inning thriller against Arkansas. A dangerous lineup is led by the quartet of Trace Willhoite, Austin Kelly, Alex Vergara, and Caleb Ketchup. All four sluggers mashed 16+ home runs with Kelly and Vergara each hitting 21 on the year. With Logan Van Treeck and Braydon Tucker leading their rotation, the Bisons could be a very dangerous four seed if the lineup keeps hitting balls out of the park.
Players to watch: Caden Grice (Clemson), Starting Pitching (Tennessee), Cam Fisher (Charlotte), Austin Kelly (Lipscomb).
Baton Rouge Regional
Host: #5 LSU
1. LSU (43-15)
2. Oregon State (39-18)
3. Sam Houston State (38-23, WAC Champions)
4. Tulane (19-40, AAC Champions)
The LSU Tigers were the unanimous No. 1 team in the country for most of the season, but the bullpen woes became prevalent. The Tigers finished 2nd in the SEC West and were knocked out of the tournament by Arkansas in the quarterfinals. The road to Omaha will be rolling through Baton Rouge, as the Tigers secured the 5 seed and are hosting Tulane, Oregon State, and Sam Houston.
Paul Skenes and Thatcher Hurd have been holding down the starting roles on the mound, and we all know that Paul Skenes is the best pitcher in the country. He won SEC Pitcher of the Year and next to him was teammate Dylan Crews winning SEC Player of the Year for the second time. Dylan Crews and Tommy White lead that LSU offense batting .420 and .387 respectively. Tommy Tanks has crazy numbers with 20 long balls, 91 RBI, 22 doubles, and an OPS of 1.220. The thing that will hurt LSU in the postseason is the pitching behind Paul Skenes, but if that gets figured out then the country should look out for the Tigers.
2 Seed Oregon State battled all the way back to take second in the PAC-12 this season, going 39-18 overall with a 18-12 PAC-12 record. The Beavers have an RPI of 37 and struggled in the Pac-12 tournament, but the offense really started coming alive late in the season. Their worst losses include dropping two at home against Washington State, getting swept by Stanford, and a loss to New Mexico. Their best wins include taking 2 of 3 from both Oregon and Washington.
Led by Travis Bazzana and Garret Forrester, this lineup can put up runs. The trick will be if the Beavers can hold opponents off the board and win the close games. Coach Canham is taking this young team into the tournament ready to do battle and try to take down a regional.
Sam Houston State
Sam Houston State is a dangerous offensive team. Going 38-23 with a 22-8 WAC conference record, this team sits at 70 in the RPI but is a tough 3 seed in the Baton Rogue Regional. Some of the worst losses this team suffered were dropping two games against Illinois, as well as a couple more late to Tarleton State. They did have some important wins, though, defeating Texas A&M, Kansas State, and Iowa.
Coached by Jay Sirianna, this team is straight up offense, with a pair of .400 hitters in Tyler Davis and Joe Redfield; not to mention Carlos Contreras, who had a down season but is viewed highly as an MLB Prospect. For Sam Houston State to win this regional they will need to get past a couple perennial powerhouses in Oregon State and LSU, both of whom have terrific lineups this season. But, offensive shootouts are exactly what the Bearkats are hoping for, just as long as they also generate the firepower to match these two schools.
Sunday afternoon, the Tulane Green Wave won their ninth, and most improbable, conference tournament title to clinch a stunning bid to the NCAA Tournament. As the second worst team in the conference and seeded 7th, the Green Wave went 4-1 during the tournament, with multiple wins over #2 seed Houston and a title clinching win over #1 seed East Carolina. Other big wins during the regular season include a road win at the aforementioned ECU and against NCAA Tournament team Washington. Ranked 157th in RPI, Tulane is one of the lowest #4 seeds in the NCAA Regionals.
Tulane only had two All-AAC performers in starting pitcher Ricky Castro and sophomore outfielder Teo Banks. Banks turned in a star performance during the AAC Tournament, but he’s been the star man for Tulane all year. In 59 games, the outfielder hit .303 with 18 home runs to pace the Green Wave. Simon Baumgardt was the only other Tulane player to hit double digit home runs. To continue their miracle run, the Green Wave will need their offense to keep lighting up the scoreboard like it did in the AAC Tournament.
Players to watch: Dylan Crews (LSU), Tommy White (LSU), Travis Bazzana (Oregon State), Garrett Forrester (Oregon State), Tyler Davis (Sam Houston State), Teo Banks (Tulane).
Host: #6 Vanderbilt
1. Vanderbilt (41-18, SEC Champions)
2. Oregon (37-20, PAC 12 Champions)
3. Xavier (37-23, Big East Champions)
4. Eastern Illinois (36-19, Ohio Valley Champions)
The Commodores have become the Alabama football of college baseball, and after a down season a year ago, are back to being a National Seed. The NCAA Tournament will again run through Nashville. Vanderbilt entered Hoover fresh off of a series victory over Arkansas, and kept momentum rolling to an SEC Tournament Championship. Vanderbilt looked dominant in the games they won, including the 10-4 Championship Game victory over Texas A&M. Vanderbilt showed signs of inconsistency early in the year before settling in to true form.
Vandy is led offensively by SEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player RJ Austin and RJ Schreck, and Enrique Bradfield Jr is a wizard both defensively and on the base paths. On the mound, Devin Futrell, Hunter Owen, and Carter Holton make up one of the best rotations in the entire country. Tim Corbin has to feel good about the performance of his team to close out the season to lock in a national seed.
The biggest threat to the Commodores will be Oregon, who won the PAC-12’s auto bid. This regional is full of conference champions that were not favored to win their conference championships. Managing teams that are playing with confidence is something Vanderbilt struggled with early in the year but has managed more effectively recently.
The Oregon Ducks and Head Coach Mark Wasikowski won the PAC-12 tournament this year and seem to be one of the hottest teams heading into the regional. They are ranked 33rd in the RPI after going 37-20 and 16-14 in the regular season. Big key losses were getting swept at home by UCSB, Niagara, and Portland. This team did have some big wins as well sweeping Arizona and taking 2 of 3 from Stanford and the pac-12 tournament.
The Ducks have a very young pitching staff and are lead by some great hitters. Tanner Smith holds just about every career Duck record for hitters, Jacob Walsh, Drew Smith, and Sabin Ceballos all figure into the potent offense. This team needs to find enough pitching to allow the offense to stay in and win games.
Xavier is on the bubble no more. The Musketeers, ranked 44th in RPI,often found themselves projected to be one of the first four teams left out of this NCAA Tournament. Xavier beat #19 Connecticut twice in three games to claim the Big East Championship and more importantly, the automatic bid that took them off of the bubble. Xavier’s strength lies in their pitching staff, led by Ethan Bosacker and Brant Alazaus. The two pitchers each made at least 15 starts for the Musketeers and had sub-4.00 ERAs. The best pitcher on the staff, however, is closer Justin Loer, who leads the team with a 1.96 ERA in 28 appearances.
Andrew Walker leads the team in hitting with a .329 average and 19 doubles, while five other Musketeers provide pop with double-digit home run totals: Jared Cushing (14 HR), Matthew DePrey (14 HR), Matt McCormick (13 HR), Jack Housinger (12 HR), and Tyler DeMartino (10 HR). To make some noise in the Regional, they’ll need several of those guys to come up with some timely home runs with runners on base and try to get to the late innings with a lead for closer Justin Loer.
The Eastern Illinois Panthers secured the Ohio Valley’s Conference Championship and auto bid to land a 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Panthers have an RPI of 114 and got there via a 13-11 conference record. The Panthers have a singular win over Arkansas, although they did lose the series, to hang their hats on as their only win against the RPI top 50. Eastern Illinois is led offensively by Ryan Ignoffo, and on the mound by Tyler Conklin and Ky Matthews-Hampton.
Players to watch: Enrique Bradfield Jr (Vanderbilt), RJ Schreck (Vanderbilt), Tanner Smith (Oregon), Ethan Bosacker (Xavier), Ryan Ignoffo (Eastern Illinois).
Host: #7 Virginia
1. Virginia (45-12, ACC Coastal Division Champions)
2. ECU (45-17, AAC Regular Season Champions)
3. Oklahoma (31-26)
4. Army (38-16, Patriot League Champions)
The ‘Hoos will host a Regional for the first time since 2016. They ranked 10th in RPI after finishing the season 45-12. Virginia finished 19-11 in ACC regular season play, good for 3rd in the conference behind Top 4 National Seeds Clemson and Wake Forest. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games after going 1-1 during the ACC Tournament.
Virginia is the only team in the country to be Top 10 in both batting average (1st) and ERA (7th). The lineup is led by five All-ACC selections, headlined by ACC Player of the Year Kyle Teel and all-time UVA home run king Jake Gelof. Those two big bats are most effective, however, when leadoff men Griff O’Ferrall and Ethan O’Donnell are setting the table in front of them. Hitting behind those four is switch-hitting first baseman Ethan Anderson, who is a Top 10 ACC hitter that gets overlooked at times but is just as dangerous as the previously mentioned four.
To win the Regional, they’ll need their pitching staff to be consistent. Brian Edgington struggled during April when his splitter didn’t stay down in the zone while Connelly Early’s recent performances have been a mixed bag. A potential fun storyline could be Connelly Early, who won the 2022 Patriot League Pitcher of the Year as Army’s Ace last year, starting against his former team on Friday. On the plus side, the ‘Hoos have only lost four games at home all year and were a perfect 25-0 against teams outside the ACC. After losing to ECU in the Greenville Regional last year, the Cavs will be looking to avenge that game should both Virginia and ECU play each other this weekend.
ECU may not be hosting this year, but they’re still a very dangerous team that’s a threat to any Regional field. Tied for the third most wins in the nation, the Pirates have an RPI of 26 and a non-conference RPI of 9. They’re 4-8 against teams in the Top 50 RPI, although most of those losses came in midweek matchups. Their pitching this season has been the best they’ve had in years, ranking 4th in the nation in strikeout to walk ratio, 5th in WHIP, and 8th in walks per 9 innings.
Offensively, the Pirates bring a dangerous lineup 1-9, but their offense is paced by the big power-hitter Josh Moylan, who leads the conference in RBI (66) and doubles (19), and leads the team in home runs (15), slugging percentage (.604) and hit by pitches (12). Moylan has an OPS of 1.021, and ranks near the top of every offensive category in the conference. Carter Cunningham has been a tough bat as of late, second on the team in batting average and OPS. Jacob Starling leads the conference in walks and leads the team in on-base percentage. There’s a variety of players on this squad that are each threats in various different categories, and Coach Cliff Godwin isn’t afraid to have any of them do anything.
As for pitching, Trey Yesavage is the Pirates’ ace on the mound, with an ERA of 2.80 and a WHIP under 1 - but he’s not the only arm opposing teams need to worry about. Danny Beal and Garrett Saylor have been superb thus far in the postseason, and Josh Grosz is a great starter as well.
A year after playing for the national championship, the Oklahoma Sooners entered selection Monday as a bubble team that many feel benefited from a higher RPI ranking. Oklahoma did enough damage in the Big 12 Tournament to squeak in as one of the last four teams in the field, and Skip Johnson’s club will be looking to cause chaos just like they did a year ago.
The Sooners hang their hats on a series victory against Stanford, which may have been the difference in getting into the tournament. In conference play, Oklahoma produced an 11-13 record, with one win in Arlington providing enough spark to jump Kansas State in the eyes of the committee. Oklahoma is led offensively by Dakota Harris and Bryce Madron, the Sooners love to steal bases, with the speed of Spikerman, Pettis, Mackenzie, and Madron. We’ve seen Oklahoma do damage with their style of play before, and they’ll have the opportunity to do more of the same in Charlottesville.
The Black Knights, ranked 93rd in RPI, produced a 38-16 record en route to a Patriot League Championship this season. Army is 0-1 against the RPI top 50, with their best series win coming against Charlotte, who is ranked 81st in RPI. The Knights cleaned house in the Patriot League, though, going 21-4 in conference play before dominating Bucknell in the conference championship series, winning both games 20-5 and 21-6.
The Knights are led offensively by Kevin Dubrule, Ross Friedrick, Braden Golinski, Derek Berg, and Sam Ruta. Dubrule was awarded as the Patriot League’s Player of the Year. Army Pitcher Tanner Greshman took home Pitcher of the Year honors for the league as well. Gresham, Mike Ruggieri, and Matthew Ronnebaum, all 1st team Patriot League selections, make up a solid rotation for the Black Knights who are making their 11th postseason appearance in program history.
Players to watch: Jake Gelof (Virginia), Kyle Teel (Virginia), Josh Moylan (ECU, Dakota Harris (Oklahoma), Kevin Dubrule (Army).
Palo Alto Regional
Host #8 Seed Stanford Cardinal
1. Stanford (38-16)
2. Texas A&M (36-25)
3. Cal State Fullerton (31-21, Big West Champions)
4. San Jose State (31-25, Mountain West Champions)
The Stanford Cardinal are a well-coached team, as David Esquer won another PAC-12 Regular season title. With a 38-16 overall record, 23-7 in conference, this team just showed up week in and week out. The worst losses this year were Sacramento State, dropping a pair to Oklahoma, and a loss to Santa Clara. Their best wins were a sweep of Oregon State at home and a sweep of Arizona State in Phoenix.
Stanford is 16th in the RPI and have the PAC-12 pitcher, player, and coach of the year. The Cardinal were led by PAC-12 Pitcher of the Year Quinn Mathews, who was the Friday night starter all year, and Alberto Rios, who won PAC-12 Player of the Year. This team is loaded with MLB talent in Tommy Troy, Carter Graham, Drew Bowser, and Braden Montgomery, but they must take every opponent seriously and win by being consistent in the bullpen and at the plate. This team can put up too many zeroes in crunch games and simply needs to get that off their mind. The biggest regional threat is probably Texas A&M, because they are really the only team to have enough offensive firepower to match the Cardinal.
Texas A&M had a very roller coaster season, finishing 36-25 overall and 14-16 in SEC play with an RPI of 29. This team coached by Jim Schlossnagle is rebuilding after a trip to Omaha a season ago. They had some really bad losses, dropping two of three to the University of Portland, getting swept by Tennessand a ee, loss against UTSA. They did, however, get some huge wins when needed, taking two of three from Florida, then beating Tennessee, South Carolina, and LSU, all in the SEC tournament.
This team struggled with starting pitching all season, but the bats have come to life as of late, led by Jace LaViolette, Hunter Haas, and Jack Moss. The key to the Aggies being able to win this regional is to score lots of runs and hope their bullpen can continue to keep them in games.
Cal State Fullerton
The Cal State Fullerton Titans won the Big West Championship and finished the season on a high note. Their RPI is 66th, with an overall record of 31-22 and 20-10 in the conference. The Titans are looking good heading into the tournament. Coach Dietrich has a team that is scrappy and uses the small ball quite a bit, withnly 34 home runs for this team all year. Top hitters Caden Connor, Zack Lew, and Nate Nankil will need to be successful to help this team win games. Toughest losses this year were getting swept by UC San Diego and losing two of three to Long Beach State. Best wins were taking two of three from Santa Clara, beating Arizona State, and taking one from USC. This team will have to play its best in every aspect to have a chance of winning their regional.
San Jose State
The San Jose State Spartans went 31-25 overall with a conference record of 18-11 and finished 104th in the RPI. Winning the Mountain West Conference tournament and earning a bid. This team had lost 6 of 7 games to Air Force before double dipping them in the Championship game. Beating Santa Clara and Texas (two more tournament teams) were a couple good wins outside of conference. Splitting 3-3 with Nevada and losing two to UCSB didn’t help the team's resume. However, this team is happy to be in the bracket and is led on offense by Hunter Dorraugh, Theo Hardy, and Dalton Bowling. Jack White has been the team's most effective bullpen arm getting 6 wins and a sub 3.00 ERA. This team would need some terrific ball to be played and some miracles to be able to win the Palo Alto Regional.
Players to look out for: Stanford - Tommy Troy, Alberto Rios, Carter Graham, Quinn Mathews; A&M - Hunter Haas and Jace Laviolette; Fullerton - Caden Connor, Zack Lew; San Jose State - Dalton Bowling.
Coral Gables Regional
Host: #9 Miami
1. Miami (40-19)
2. Texas (38-20)
3. Louisiana (40-22)
4. Maine (32-19, America East Champions)
Outside of #1 Wake Forest, the Miami Hurricanes have been the ACC’s most consistent team throughout the year. Ranked #12 in RPI, they’ll be hosting a regional for the second year in a row. The Hurricanes will be hoping for a better result in 2023, following their disappointing regional losses to eventual National Champion Ole Miss and Arizona in 2022.
Miami’s dangerous lineup is led by future first round pick Yohandy Morales at third base. The junior is hitting .405 with 13 doubles, 16 home runs, and 61 RBI. Other players to watch in the Canes lineup is first baseman CJ Kayfus (.351, 13 HR), freshman infielder Blake Cyr (.303, 16 HR, 60 RBI), outfielder Zach Levenson (.301, 30 extra base hits), and shortstop Dominic Pitelli (14 doubles, 11 home runs). Catcher Carlos Perez, who has only hit .222 on the year, still possesses a dangerous bat, as the junior has 13 home runs on the year.
Sophomore Gage Ziehl is the ace of the rotation, while Karson Ligon, Alejandro Torres, and Alejandro Rosario have all started games for the Hurricanes this season. The crown jewel of Miami’s pitching staff, however, is junior closer Andrew Walters. The righty has a 1.36 career ERA in 99 innings over 70 appearances. He hasn’t given up more than one earned run in an outing since June of 2022.
The Texas Longhorns nearly snuck into the hosting picture until an 0-2 showing in the Big 12 Tournament cost them the opportunity to host the NCAA Tournament in Austin. The Longhorns rank 30th in RPI and have 12 wins against the top 50. Texas has the talent to go on a run in the NCAA Tournament despite stumbling against Kansas and Kansas State in Arlington. Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Lucas Gordon has been a stable force on the mound for Texas, and fellow star arm Tanner Witt has returned from injury.
Dylan Campbell and TCU transfer Porter Brown have been dynamic at the plate and they joined Gordon and pitcher Lebarron Johnson on the All-Big 12 first team. Texas has been a staple of the NCAA Tournament for too long to be overlooked, despite falling flat in the Big 12 Tournament, Texas still has a share of the Big 12 regular season title in their back pockets as they hit the road this postseason.
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament afer going 40-22 in 2023. Ranked 47th in RPI, Louisiana’s most impressive wins were over Campbell and LSU in non-conference play. They’re a team that likes to run and string hits together, and only two of their hitters reached double digit home run totals this year. Kyle DeBarge led the team with a .370 batting average while Carson Roccaforte hit an impressive 25 doubles. Outside of Jake Hammond (3-3, 3.78 ERA), their starting pitching has been an adventure. Cooper Rawls, Jerry Couch, and Steven Cash have been their biggest arms out of the bullpen this season, but Rawls also has 5 starts under his belt.
Maine’s most famous living resident Stephen King said it best: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” The Maine Black Bears will be coming into the NCAA Tournament full of hope, and no matter what happens, hope never truly dies. Ranked 124th in RPI, Maine went 19-5 to earn the #1 seed in the America East conference tournament, then took care of business to win the double-elimination tournament without losing a game.
Maine led their conference in home runs and slugging. Their lineup is anchored by Jeremiah Jenkins, who won the America East Triple Crown with a .378 average, 20 home runs, and 75 RBIs. Jake Rainess and Quinn McDaniel were tied for second in the conference with 16 home runs apiece. The trio provides quite a bit of danger in their lineup.
On the pitching side, freshman Gianni Gambardella shined for the Black Bears while leading the conference with a 2.91 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched. On Saturday in America East’s tournament championship, the young gun went 8 shutout innings and only gave up 2 hits. Maine starting pitchers Caleb Leys, Noah Lewis, and Colin Fitzgerald all joined Gambardella in the Top 6 in the conference in ERA. To win the Regional, they’ll need their big boppers in Jenkins, Rainess, and McDaniel to do some damage with runners on base, and they’ll need their freshman stud Gianna Gambardella to stay hot on the mound.
Players to watch: Yohandy Morales (Miami), Lucas Gordon (Texas), Kyle DeBarge (Louisiana), Gianna Gambardella (Maine).
Host: #10 Coastal Carolina
1. Coastal Carolina (39-19)
2. Duke (35-21)
3. UNC Wilmington (33-21 CAA Champions)
4. Rider (35-19, MAAC Champions)
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers come into the NCAA Tournament with a 39-19 overall record and a 23-7 Sun Belt conference record. When these guys show up to the ballpark, they swing it, especially at home.
With a team batting average at .310, 100 total home runs, and a 23-10 home record, any team traveling to Conway will need to prepare for a slugfest. Springs Brook Stadium is a launching pad, which also means the Coastal pitching staff does not have many standout ERAs.
Of course, this makes Teddy Sharkey’s season that much more impressive. The Chanticleer closer has a 2.68 ERA with 69 Ks in 49 innings. With wins this season against Wake Forest, Southern Miss twice, Campbell twice, and UNC twice, this team is battle tested against high-level competition. A deep pitching staff might create some problems for this team, but they will be a tough out, especially at home.
Duke returns to the NCAA tournament after a one year hiatus. The Blue Devils finished 5th in the ACC and are ranked 25th in RPI. Duke’s strength lies in the depth of their bullpen, as they rarely let a starter go beyond three or four innings. There is some concern that bullpen ace James Tallon, a freshman, might be a little out of gas after throwing 32 high leverage innings in his first collegiate season. The righty has an impressive 1.69 ERA for the Blue Devils, but he did struggle in his last outing against Miami in Durham at the ACC Tournament. Sophomore Fran Oschell, however, has continued to shine, lowering his ERA to 0.80 over 33.2 innings. Other bullpen arms to watch for Duke include freshman Owen Proksch and graduate student Chalie Beilenson.
Duke’s offense is led by the trio of third baseman Jay Beshears, shortstop Alex Mooney, and catcher Alex Stone. The three sluggers are all hitting over .325 and have combined for 48 doubles and 34 home runs. Andrew Fischer, an All-ACC freshman, hit .310 with 11 home runs in his debut season. Duke’s currently on a four game losing streak heading into the ACC Tournament, and could be vulnerable to a first game upset in a Regional, especially if Tallon’s workload has caught up to him.
The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks won their 7th CAA Championship on Sunday afternoon after defeating a very good Northeastern Husky team, 5-4. UNC-W was ranked in the Top 40 for RPI and likely would’ve received an at-large bid anyways, but locking up the automatic bid takes away any anxiety regarding tournament selection. The Seahawks swept ECU in their two midweek series and also took four of five from Northeastern this year. A series win over the Big 12 Tournament Champs TCU in mid-April also boosted their resume.
UNC-W is led by All-CAA performers Jac Croom and Travor Marsh in the lineup. Croom hit .363 this season and walked more than he struck out while Marsh was second on the team with 11 home runs. Tanner Thach paced the Seahawks with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs. The pitching ace is sophomore Zane Taylor, who went 7-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts this year. Brett Banks is the bullpen’s best arm and closer and has a 3.62 ERA and 8 saves over 37.1 innings pitched. In order to make noise in the Regional, they’ll need those two and more to provide quality pitching.
The Broncos enter the NCAA Tournament after defeating Fairfield in the MAAC championship. Rider produced a 14-7 conference record, while picking up 2 wins against the RPI top 50 on the year. Those wins are against Oklahoma, and Duke, both NCAA tournament teams. Rider is led offensively by Brenden O’Donnell but John Volpe is one to watch on the basepaths. On the mound, Frank Doelling leads the way with 56 strikeouts on the year.
Players to watch: Teddy Sharkey (Coastal), Alex Mooney (Duke), Jac Croom (UNCW), Brenden O’Donnell (Rider).
Host #11 Seed Oklahoma State
1. Oklahoma State (41-18)
2. Dallas Baptist (45-14)
3. Washington (34-18)
4. Oral Roberts (46-11, Summit League Champions)
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are hosting, again! College baseball fans will never forget last year’s thrilling Stillwater Regional, but the Cowboys are hoping that this year’s edition is a little less exciting and a little more in favor of the Pokes.
Oklahoma State is led offensively by familiar face Roc Riggio but also Freshman Nolan Schubart, who has driven in 73 runs on the season. Riggio is sure to make his presence known at the plate and on the base paths, but the true fate of the Cowboys will fall on the pitching staff.
Ben Abram, Juaron Watts-Brown and Carson Benge make up a solid rotation for Oklahoma State, Watts-Brown being the biggest X-factor as he has been both dominant and inconsistent this season. Oklahoma State’s weak non-conference schedule meant reason for skepticism regarding their hosting resume, as the Cowboys left the season opening tournament in Arlington with just a lone win over Missouri. However, they claimed wins over Arizona State and Dallas Baptist before starting conference play.
After producing a 15-9 record in the Big 12, the Cowboys have an RPI of 17, and made it all the way to the Big 12 Championship game before falling to TCU. Both Washington and Dallas Baptists have offenses that will threaten the Cowboys on a mission to get to Omaha. Keep an offense going that has been inconsistent all season.
Dallas Baptist likely would have hosted a regional if they had won the Conference USA tournament. Unfortunately for the Patriots, losing the finale to Charlotte, despite an RPI of 16 and going 45-14, was likely the nail in the coffin for hosting. During the regular season, DBU rolled through C-USA, going 25-5, including at one point winning 15 games in a row. The Patriots were inches away from hosting and are sure to be a thorn in the side of anyone that gets in their way.
They’re led offensively by Ethan Mann and Grant Jay. On the mound, Braxton Bragg has led the way for the Patriots who have become a consistent name in the NCAA Tournament field. Outside of C-USA play, the Patriots struggled with Southern Miss but swept tournament team Oral Roberts, and they also have victories over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Key to this team winning is getting to a hot start versus Washington and battling offensively with Oklahoma State.
The Washington Huskies have been a huge offensive team in the recent weeks and seem to be hitting as well as any team in the nation. Coach Jason Kelly has this team believing they can win any game at any time, finishing 36th in the RPI, going 34-18, and with a 17-12 conference record finishing thirrd in the PAC-12. The Huskies had some tough losses, dropping two at Santa Clara, Rhode Island, and Tulane. They did have some key wins, though, sweeping USC and sweeping Oregon in Eugene.
This team has so much offensive firepower, but it all starts with Will Simpson, the powerful right-hander who had 18 homers. Colby Morales and AJ Guerrero are also going to need to produce runs for the Huskies to win. If enough pitching can keep them in ballgames, then this Washington team has a chance of winning the regional with all their offense.
Oral Roberts is a sneaky good team. Although they have an RPI of 76 and have gone 2-4 against Top 50 RPI teams, they rank near the top in many different offensive and defensive categories. Oral Roberts swept ranked Oklahoma State in a midweek series this year, and they look to repeat. Defensively, they rank 3rd nationally in fielding percentage and ERA, and 4th in WHIP.
Offensively, ORU ranks 7th in team batting average and are tied for 9th in hits. Their offense is paced by Jonah Cox, who ranks third nationally in hits with 100. He’s batting a stellar .422 with an OPS of 1.150. Matt Hogan comes in second with 16 home runs and an OPS of 1.189. Overall, they’re a very solid offensive club.
Pitching is a strong suit for ORU, with a team ERA of 3.66. Jakob Hall has a WHIP of 1.05, and all three starters have an ERA under 3.50. Pitching and hitting will both be needed if Oral Roberts is to win this Regional. They have beat Oklahoma State before but that will be a tall task this weekend in Stillwater.
Players to Watch List Oklahoma State : Roc Riggio, Juaron Watts-Brown. Dallas Baptist : Braxton Bragg and Ethan Mann. Washington : Will Simpson and AJ Guerrero. Oral Roberts : Jakob Hall and Jonah Cox
Host: #12 Kentucky
1. Kentucky (36-18)
2. West Virginia (39-18)
3. Indiana (41-18)
4. Ball State (36-21, MAC Champions)
The Wildcats enter the NCAA Tournament with the #1 ranked strength of schedule and the #2 ranked RPI. While the Wildcats have won only one series since April 2, that series is a sweep over fellow host team South Carolina. The Wildcats have had an impressive season, which began with wins over Wright State, Indiana and Indiana State. Kentucky got off to a quick start in SEC play, picking up series victories over Mississippi State and Alabama and Missouri before running into the teeth of the SEC and struggling a little bit. Still earning a host site, the Wildcats are fresh off of an 0-1 trip to Hoover, and have plenty of firepower to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
Offensively, Hunter Gilliam and Devin Burkes lead the way, with Grant Smith, having homered in 5 of his last 6 games, coming on late to really boost the Wildcat offense. On the mound, Zack Lee and Tyler Bosma present a tough challenge for West Virginia, Indiana, and Ball State bats.
The toughest challenge for Kentucky will be West Virginia. The Mountaineers are on a cold spell, but when hot, pose a threat with a star player that can beat you in multiple ways. Kentucky has struggled in their own right lately, although many will argue struggling in the SEC is different than struggling in the Big 12. Kentucky will need to prevent West Virginia from playing small ball, and limit the impact of JJ Wetherholt.
The Mountaineers took home a share of the Big 12 regular season title before hitting a snag near the end of the regular season and in the Big 12 tournament. West Virginia would likely be hosting a regional if it weren’t for a sweep at Texas and a quick elimination in Arlington. JJ Wetherholt has been a special player for West Virginia and when healthy has been seen doing all of the little things to help this Mountaineer team. West Virginia has wins over Maryland, Arizona and Xavier in the non-conference slate, before going 15-9 in an up and down Big 12 to give them an RPI of 24. If West Virginia can find their footing in regional play, they are capable of beating anyone in the country, but it’s hard to ignore their performance the last few weeks at an inopportune time.
Indiana is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019. The Hoosiers rank 30th in RPI and are 8-12 vs the top 50 which includes wins over Texas, Auburn, Indiana State, and Iowa. Jeff Mercer’s Hoosiers are led on th mound by big righty Luke Sinnard (4.16 ERA) and will hope to get their best bullpen arm back in Ryan Kraft (2.51 ERA). At the plate, Indiana has a very capable offense which is led by catcher Brock Tibbits (.372 BA), SS Phillip Glasser (.351 BA), and by Big Ten freshman of the year OF Devin Taylor (.317 BA, 16 HR). Indiana will have to score runs early and often to support the pitching staff if they want to make an impact in the NCAA tournament after a disappointing performance in the Big Ten tournament.
Ball State is a fun team to watch here in the postseason. The Cardinals have an RPI of 101, and they’re 2-7 against teams in the Top 50 RPI, but they swept the MAC Tournament, including two games against 1 seed Kent State.
Their offense is paced by Decker Scheffler, Adam Tellier, and Ryan Peltier, who’ve combined for 43 doubles. Scheffler is hitting a superb .388 with an OPS of 1.081. Peltier is hitting .351 with a team-leading OPS of 1.086. He has 80 hits this year with 15 home runs and 54 RBI. Tellier, the 2023 MAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, has 73 hits with 9 home runs.
Their ace on the mound is right-hander Trennor D’Donnell, who has an ERA of 2.98 and an opposing batting average of .219.
Players to watch: Hunter Gilliam (Kentucky), JJ Wetherholt (West Virginia), Matthew Ellis (Indiana), Adam Tellier (Ball State).
Host: #13 seed Auburn
1. Auburn (34-21-1)
2. Southern Miss (41-17, Sun Belt Champions)
3. Samford (36-23 Southern Champions)
4. Penn (32-14, Ivy League Champions)
Auburn comes into the tournament with a 34-21-1 record and a 17-13 SEC record. With an RPI of 19, the Tigers have the highest of any host in the tournament. After a rocky start to the season which included dropping a home series to Southeastern Louisiana, Auburn’s offense has carried the team.
Bryson Ware (.356, 24 HR, 63 RBI), Cole Foster (.336, 13, 49), Ike Irish (.364, 6, 50), and Cooper McMurray (.275, 14, 47) have led this potent offense to series victories over South Carolina and LSU in back-to-back weeks and a 10-2 closing stretch in SEC play. The pitching rotation has been up-and-down, but the emergence of Tommy Vail (5-1, 3.46 ERA) as a Day 1 starter has given Auburn an anchor to work around. This team will want to get into slugfests. If they can rough up a team’s pitching staff, they will absolutely feast on weaker bullpens. They hit the long ball but don’t rely on it, so their brand of offense will play in any ballpark. What this team will want to avoid at all costs is a team with a deep pitching staff. This is a team built to win a shootout in the later stages of a regional. An early loss would be problematic in a regional for the rest of this pitching staff however.
In its first year in the Sun Belt Conference, Southern Miss was in contention for the championship the second half of the regular season with Coastal Carolina, eventually finishing one game back at 22-8 in the league to Coastal’s 23-7.
The final week of the regular season, long-time head coach Scott Berry announced his retirement, and a few days later, pitching coach Christian Ostrander was named to succeed him. The team seemed to respond well to the news, as they won two of three to finish the regular season and moved through the SBC tournament bracket, losing only once there before defeating Louisiana for that title, 6-2.
The Eagles are 41-17 and head into the NCAA with not only momentum, they boast a top pitcher in Tanner Hall (12-3), whose 2.23 ERA in the regular season not only led the Sun Belt, it was a full run better than second place, the only one below 3.00. Hall has struck out 109 in 97 innings with only 30 walks, and opponents are hitting just .197 against him.
Southern Miss also has two other pitchers among the top eleven in the SBC for the regular season ERA, in Niko Mazza (5-1, 3.99) and Billy Oldham (6-3, 4.64). Four other pitchers have logged at least 35 innings: Mathew Adams (3-2, 4.74), Kros Sivley (3-1, 4.17), Will Armistead (2-0, 1.96), and Justin Storm (5-1, 2.52).
Hitting wise, the Eagles are led by DH Slade Wilks, whose 20 home runs and 56 RBI lead the team in both categories, and he’s hitting .301. He’s joined statistically by Dustin Dickerson, hitting .325 and leading the team in doubles with 19; Nick Monistere, hitting .313; and Danny Lynch, hitting .251 but leading the team in walks with 43, along with 14 doubles and 11 home runs. Mathew Etzel is hitting .325 and is 22-25 on stolen base attempts. Monistere (1-0, 4.00) has also pitched nine innings in nine appearances, with one save.
Southern Miss hits .285 as a team, with 78 HRs and OB% of .393. The team ERA is 4.60, with 225 walks and 585 strikeouts in 508 1/3 innings, 53 home runs yielded.
The Samford Bulldogs bring a 36-23 record in to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Wofford to win the Southern conference tournament. Samford produced a 15-6 record in conference play this season, which led to an RPI ranking of 62. Samford is 0-7 against teams ranked in the RPI top 50, with some of their best records coming against conference foe Wofford. Samford is led by Lucas Steele, John Anderson, and Stephen Klein at the plate. On the bump, Jacob Cravey has recorded 120 strikeouts on the season.
The Penn Quakers enter the postseason with a 32-14 record after dominating the Ivy League (16-5) and sweeping through the conference tournament to lock up the automatic bid. Arguably the most dangerous 4-seed in the tournament, the Quakers play very well-rounded baseball. This is an experienced team who played South Carolina very tough to start the year.
With a team ERA at 4.00, Penn is led on the mound by Ryan Dromboski (7-2, 2.87), Cole Zaffiro (5-2, 3.09), and Carson Ozmer (6 saves, 2.17). This staff only gave up 30 home runs all season, so it will be interesting to see how they do against some of the better offenses in the nation.
Offensively themselves, Wyatt Henseler (17 HRs) represents their only real power threat, but Cole Palis, Davis Baker, Ben Miller, and Jackson Appel are all hitting over .300. As a team, the Quakers hit .291. This Penn team can spray hits around, and if they get to the weaker part of a bullpen or catch a starter on an off day, look for the Quakers to make quite a bit of noise. Higher velocities could pose some trouble, but look for Penn to hold their own at the very least in the NCAA Tournament.
Players to watch: Bryson Ware (Auburn), Tanner Hall (Southern Miss), Lucas Steele (Samford), Cole Palis (Penn).
Terre Haute Regional
Host #14 Indiana State
1. Indiana State (42-15)
2. Iowa (38-14)
3. North Carolina (35-22)
4. Wright State (39-21)
The Indiana State Sycamores earned their way to the #14 overall seed with an RPI over #9 in the country. The Sycamores were rewarded for their tougher non-conference schedule and dominance in the Missouri Valley conference. The Sycamores’ most impressive win of the season came at Vanderbilt, in a game that they won 10-2. They went 24-3 during conference play en route to winning the Missouri Valley tournament championship against Evansville.
ISU is lead offensively by Mike Sears and Adam Pottinger. On the mound, Connor Fenlong, Matt Jachec, and Lane Miller present a rotation good enough to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The greatest threat to Indiana State will be the 2 seed Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes, runners up in the Big Ten, pose a threat with great pitching as well as an offense that emerged in the Big Ten tournament. Furthermore, Iowa defeated Indiana State earlier this season. If Indiana State is going to win this regional, they will need to minimize the impact of the UNC offense, and find ways to get to the weaker bullpens of both Iowa and North Carolina.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have played their way into their first NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017, after winning 42 games for the first time since 1981. The Hawkeyes are 32nd in RPI and are 6-7 against the top 50 which includes a 6-2 win over Indiana State and a 12-4 victory over LSU, who are both hosting regionals of their own.
Iowa has a fundamentally sound defense (14th in NCAA in FLD %) that backs up one of the stingiest pitching staffs in the country which ranks 10th in the NCAA in ERA, and only gives up 6.68 hits per game (2nd in NCAA). The stingy pitching staff is led by starters Marcus Morgan (3.88 ERA), Brody Brecht (3.86 ERA), Ty Langenberg (4.06 ERA), and bullpen stalwarts Jack Whitlock (2.58 ERA), Luke Llewellyn (2.67 ERA) and Will Christphersen (3.31 ERA).
The Hawkeye offense is well disciplined from top to bottom and owns an NCAA 11th best on base percentage. 3B Raider Tello hits the ball well to all parts of the field and hits behind team leader in HR Brennen Dorighi (13 HR, .340 AVG). With the availability of Keaton Anthony still unknown, Iowa should continue to play with a chip on their shoulder and will prove to be a sneaky matchup throughout the tournament.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are a dangerous team as the #2 seed in an NCAA Regional. Ranked 27th in RPI, the Heels made a run to the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament before falling to scorching Clemson for the fourth time in 9 days. Head Coach Scott Forbes confirmed that star outfielder Vance Honeycutt, who has missed the past 6 games with a lower back injury, will not be back this week for the Regional.
With or without Hoineycutt, the lineup will be led by fellow star Mac Horvath, who had an incredible season hitting 20 doubles, 22 home runs, and stealing 24 bases. Catcher Tomas Frick leads the Heels with a .329 average and 21 doubles, shined in the ACC Tournament by going 8-14 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs in just 3 games. Other UNC bats to watch for include freshman lead off man Casey Cook and second baseman Jackson Van De Brake.
To win an NCAA Regional as a #2 seed, however, North Carolina is going to need to get more from their starting pitcher. Max Carlson and Connor Bovair have both struggled mightily at times this season. At least one of them and Jake Knapp will have to pitch very well to win the Regional. In the bullpen, they’ll rely on closer Matt Poston to keep opposing offenses down late in games. Horvath and the pitching can help win this Regional!
Wright State has an RPI of 77, and they’re 1-7 against Top 50 RPI teams. Their lone win against a team with a Top 50 RPI came against Kentucky early in the season, when they played them in a weekend non-conference series. However, Wright State comes into this tournament with a lot of momentum, as they’ve won three in a row coming into regionals.
The offense is paced by Andrew Patrick, who comes into regionals batting .333 with an OPS of 1.150. He has 19 home runs and 21 doubles, as well as 36 walks. Patrick is slugging .711, and he’s a tough guy to face at the plate. Gehrig Anglin isn’t an easy out either- he has an on-base percentage of .446. As for pitching, their ace on the mound is Sebastian Gongora, who holds a 2.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18. He’s 10-1 on the year, and opponents are batting .220 against him. They will need an enormous effort from stars Patrick and Gongora to have any chance of advancing from this regional.
Players to Watch List Indiana State: Connor Fenlong and Mike Sears. Iowa: Brody Brecht, Sam Peterson and Brennen Dorighi. North Carolina Mac Horvath and Tomas Frick. Wright State Sebastian Gongora and Andrew Patrick.
Host: #15 South Carolina
1. South Carolina (39-19)
2. Campbell (44-13, Southland Champions)
3. NC State (35-19)
4. Central Connecticut State (36-12, Northeast Champions)
The South Carolina Gamecocks enter the postseason with a 39-19 (16-13) record and will host a regional at Founders Park. For the first two months of the season, the Gamecocks were arguably the best team in the nation. Unfortunately for South Carolina, the injury bug bit them in key positions. Noah Hall and Eli Jerzembeck are out for the year. Will McGillis has missed most of the season with a broken wrist. Talmadge LeCroy, Braylen Wimmer, Gavin Casas, Cole Messina, and Will Sanders have all missed time with injury to end the year. However, all but Hall, Jerzembeck, and McGillis should be fully healthy for the regional.
Led on the mound by Sanders and Jack Mahoney, the Gamecocks have the starting pitching to beat any team in the country. Eli Jones, Matthew Becker, and James Hicks can start or be long-relief. This team has the pitching to win an extended regional, but the offense needs to click. First-Team SEC players Ethan Petry and Cole Messina, need to jumpstart the offense for South Carolina to make a run this postseason.
Campbell comes into this tournament as an angry team with something to prove. Snubbed from hosting, the Camels have an RPI of 13 and are the only team with an RPI in the Top 15 to not host. They’re 8th in the nation in non-conference RPI, and they hold a record of 9-5 against Top 50 RPI teams.
Campbell leads the nation in hit by pitches, on-base percentage, and scoring. They’re also tied for 9th in hits and they rank 5th in home runs, 2nd in runs scored, 4th in win percentage, 8th in stolen bases, and 2nd in slugging. Riding a win streak of four games, including a sweep of the Big South Tournament, the Camels are sure to be a scary team in any regional. They’re a team that can do it all, and dominate while doing so.
From 1-9, their whole lineup is a tough one to navigate: they have a team OPS of 1.007, and bat .318 as a team. But their mighty offense is paced by Lawson Harrill, Tyler Halstead, Jarrod Belbin, and Bryce Arnold. Yes, I had to mention all four- that’s how tough of a team this is. Harrill and Halstead are batting .377 and .374 respectively, while Belbin and Arnold are batting in the .320s. Three of the four have an OPS of over 1.000, and they’ve hit a combined 64 doubles and 61 home runs.
Their pitching is led by Big South All-Tournament ace Cade Kuehler, who’s 8-0 on the season. With an ERA of 2.82 and a WHIP of around 1, opposing batters are hitting only .191 against him. And the rest of their staff isn’t easy to face either.
After an incredible Omaha run in 2021 that was cut short due to a COVID-19 outbreak amongst the team, the Wolfpack were snubbed by the selection committee in 2022. This year, they squeak in as a #3 seed and will be a dangerous team to face.
Ranked #23 in RPI, they’re led by an outstanding group of pitchers. Logan Whitaker was the ACC Pitcher of the Week over the last series of the season, while Matt Willadsen was 5-4 with a 3.54 ERA over 15 starts. The third starter, Sam Highfill, is best remembered for out dueling Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter over 7.1 innings in Omaha two seasons ago. All-ACC freshman Dominic Fritton was a breakout star and will likely be serving as the fireman coming out of the bullpen for the Wolfpack while closer Justin Lawson is the only other reliable arm in State’s bullpen.
Offensively NC State features a trio of good hitters. Freshman catcher Cannon Peebles, who primarily serves as the designated hitter, led the Wolfpack with a .346 average and 12 home runs. Gino Groover, who missed out on being an ACC selection due to insane depth at third base in the ACC, hit .332 with 11 home runs. Jacob Cozart, the sophomore catcher, earned All-ACC honors after a campaign in which he hit .310 with 13 doubles, 2 triples, and 10 home runs. For NC State to make another run, they’ll need to get innings from their five main pitchers. If they have to go deeper than Lawson or Fritton in the bullpen, they’ll be in trouble.
The Blue Devils are no stranger to the NCAA tournament, and they have returned after running rough shot through the Northeast conference tournament. Central Connecticut went 25-5 in conference play, and have an RPI of 111. CCSU played a tough non-conference slate, although, they are 0-4 against the RPI top 50, a majority of their wins have come against Quad 4 teams. The Blue Devils are led offensively by Ramon Jimenez who has driven in 57 runs on the season. On the mound, Dominic Niman has been a force, going 12-2 and striking out 90.
Players to watch: Will Sanders (South Carolina), Ethan Petry (South Carolina), Cole Messina (South Carolina), Lawson Harrill (Campbell), Cannon Peebles (NC State), Roman Jimenez (CCSU).
Host: #16 Seed Alabama
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (40-19)
2. Boston College (35-18)
3. Troy (39-20)
4. Nicholls State (34-22, Southland Conference Champions)
The Crimson Tide began the season with much optimism, winning their first 14 games before dropping two of three at home against the Columbia Lions. They were in the second half of the season, 30-12 overall and 9-9 SEC, when they traveled to Baton Rouge, LA, to play LSU. Events began to unfold involving unusual betting activity on Alabama baseball games that led to the suspension of wagering on Tide baseball games and the dismissal of Head Coach Brian Bohannon.
Assistant Coach Jason Jackson took over the team, who wound up being swept by LSU; but they responded well, winning their three remaining series by a 7-2 count, including four out of six over Vanderbilt and Texas A&M, the SEC Tournament Champion and Runner-Up. Alabama's RPI is 11, SOS 14, 17-14 vs Quad 1, 6-2 Quad 2.
Alabama (40-19) is led in hitting by Tommy Seidl, at .364 with 9 doubles, 9 home runs, 42 RBI, and 31 walks. He’s also fourth in a group of five players with 30 or more walks. Right behind Seidl is Andrew Pinckney at .350, with 16 home runs, 12 doubles, 54 RBIs, and 34 walks. Colby Shelton is hitting .294 but leads the Tide with 22 home runs, 10 doubles, 46 RBIs, and 28 walks. Other leading hitters are Drew Williamson (.317, 15 home runs, 58 RBI, 39 walks), and Ed Johnson (.332, 6 home runs, 8 doubles, 40 RBI, 30 walks).
Pitching wise, the Crimson Tide are led by Luke Holman (7-3, 3.50 ERA) and Jacob McNairy (6-2, 4.08), but there are six others with at least 30 innings logged: Grayson Hitt (3-1, 4.19), Garrett McMillan (4-2, 3.99), Ben Hess (4-0, 3.22), Hagan Banks (1-1, 3.51), Hunter Furtado (1-1, 4.59), and Alton Davis II (0-2, 4.15).
Team wise, Alabama hits .297, with 102 home runs and OB% of .405. In pitching, they have a team ERA of 3.98 in 511 2/3 innings, with 215 walks, 544 strikeouts, and 66 home runs yielded.
How Alabama wins the regional: The team continues its run of renewed confidence and fresh start feel following the coaching dismissal, balances hitting and pitching, and feeds on the emotion of being at home, where they’ve won four straight and are 27-8 this year.
The Eagles weren’t afraid to take their show on the road, winning two of three at Pepperdine, who admittedly had an off year, going into Knoxville to knock off SEC member/NCAA participant Tennessee 7-6 in 10 innings, as well as taking two of three at home against fellow ACC member and NCAA participant NC State. Another fellow ACC and NCAA team, North Carolina, was swept at home by BC, who then returned home only to drop two of three to Clemson and win two of three from Notre Dame in the regular season finale. They played only two ACC tournament games, going 1-1. The BC RPI is 18, SOS 31, record vs Quad 1 is 13-14, and 7-3 vs Quad 2.
Hitting wise, Boston College’s .271 team BA was the third lowest in the ACC, their 63 home runs fourth lowest, their 275 walks only ninth best, their 88 doubles second best, and their 60-71 on stolen bases fifth in the league. Pitching is similar, the 5.42 team ERA ranking 10th in the ACC, strikeouts (476 in 470 IP) 12th, home runs given up (56) 4th best, and walks (184) third best.
How Boston College wins the regional: Although the stats on either hitting or pitching don’t jump out to you, playing 27 games against Quad 1 opponents and another 10 against Quad 2 has battle tested the Eagles, who won’t be intimidated by an SEC opponent or ballpark.
Troy Trojans finished the regular season third in the Sun Belt Conference, behind regular season champion Coastal Carolina and tournament champion Southern Miss. They won their tourney opener vs Appalachian State but then lost the next two, to Southern and a rematch with App. The Trojans knocked off in-state rival Auburn 8-7 on the road during the season, but they lost both matches against Alabama, 7-2 at Tuscaloosa and 10-2 in Montgomery, where the SBC tourney was later played. The Troy RPI is 38, SOS 55, record vs Quad 1 is 4-6 and 12-8 vs Quad 2.
Hitting wise, Troy was middle of the SBC pack, their .285 team BA only 8th in the league, but their 102 home runs and 420 RBIs were both second in the conference. In extra base hits, they were similarly down the line in doubles, but interestingly tied for 1st in triples with 19. In pitching, Troy was 4th in team ERA at 5.48 but led the league in strikeouts with 610 in 514 IP. Walks found them in 5th place with 274, but giving up the 4th fewest home runs, at 65.
How Troy wins the regional: SBC home run leader Shane Lewis (27) ignites an offense that’s been middle of the pack most of the year, and the Trojans find a way to hit some home runs at key times in a ballpark that is conducive to them.
The Nicholls State schedule is full of name matchups, and some wins as well. The Colonels dropped a neutral site game 12-4 to Mississippi State and a 12-2 road loss at LSU, but they also claim two of three over AAC member Memphis, a 6-5 win on the road over LSU, and four straight in the Southland Conference tourney to get the automatic bid. The Nicholls State RPI is 108, SOS 166, Record vs Quad 1 is 1-1 and 4-5 vs Quad 2.
Nicholls brings a .288 team BA into play, good for 3rd in the Southland, and a 4.26 team ERA, good for 2nd in the league.
How Nicholls State wins the regional: They somehow capture and continue the Southland tourney magic in Tuscaloosa, star pitcher Jacob Mayers baffles the Tide and throws a gem to upset the 1 seed, and the Colonels play with house money.
Players to watch in the regional:
Alabama: Outfielder Tommy Seidl (.364, 9 HR, 42 RBI), Andrew Pinckney (.350, 16 HR, 54 RBI), Colby Shelton (.294, 22 HR, 46 RBI), Luke Holman (7-3, 3.50 ERA, 74 SO), Jacob McNairy (6-2, 4.08 ERA, 72 SO)
Boston College: Joe Vetrano (.305 BA, 18 HR, 55 RBI), Chris Flynn (7-3, 4.21 ERA)
Troy: Ethan Kavanaugh (.322 BA, 9 doubles, 38 walks), Shane Lewis (.291 BA, 27 home runs, 76 RBI)
Nicholls State: Xane Washington (.379 BA, 17 doubles, 46 RBI, 32 walks, 14 HBP), Jacob Mayers (9-1, 1.93 ERA, 97 strikeouts in 70 IP)
The NCAA Baseball Tournament begins at 11:00 AM Central on Friday June 2.
For a printable bracket, go to https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/print/baseball/d1/2023?utm_campaign=inline-article and to follow along in the interactive bracket, go to https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/baseball/d1/2023?utm_campaign=inline-article