See also: Super Regional scoreboard
Ole Miss (44-18) at No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette (57-8)
Saturday: 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sunday: 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Monday: 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Coach: Mike Blanco
Postseason History: 5th super regional appearance. Seeking 6th trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in the Oxford regional. Won three games, beating Washington 3-2 in the final.
(Anonymous coach breaks down the Rebels)
“I thought they were the best offensive team we saw all year, just very good one through nine. Lee is a terror, he’s going to run and take away from your concentration on the hitter if he’s on base. Bousfield and Anderson and Allen and Orvis, one after the other. Then a senior like Overbey in the eight-hole, hasn’t had a great year, but he’s scary in the eight-hole. You couldn’t really pitch around one of those guys in the middle because you had another one standing on deck. I thought Anderson was overall their best player, but you’ve got Orvis and Allen hitting right behind him. Just a scary lineup. The middle of the order scares you, but you’ve got to keep those guys at the top off the bases, and those guys can get on base, I’ll tell you that.
“You look up and down, besides Allen and Orvis, everybody can run, everybody can steal. When your focus has to be on the hitter, it still takes it away because they can run like that. Ole Miss can score some runs, they play good defense, and Bianco is very aggressive. They hit-and-run, steal, put pressure on you. They cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Bousfield is as good an outfielder as you’ll find, and Lee is a good outfielder out there. Anderson’s very good at third making plays on the run, Robinson’s got a lot of range at shortstop. Overbey gets it done at second. Allen does a good job behind the plate for a big guy, doesn’t look like he’ll move well but blocks balls well, receives well, throws OK. You have a senior catcher back there with experience, that’s what you want. This is the team Mike (Bianco)’s been waiting on, a lot of juniors and seniors. If they’re going to win a national championship, this is the year they could do it.
“Orvis is a good hitter with power, but he’s all pull. He can struggle if you put a good shift on him. When you put a shift on a guy and he lays down a bunt, you know you’ve got a guy. He hits so many balls hard to the right side, and he’ll hit into that shift. He’s got a lot of power and has a good idea how to hit, but does get a little pull-happy.
“The biggest thing for them is to stay in the winners’ bracket, because they don’t have the depth on the mound. Ellis and Christian Trent are good, Sam Smith pitched well but his stuff isn’t overpowering. I thought Chris Ellis was a really good competitor. I didn’t think his stuff was overpowering, but a strike-thrower, competes. He mixed his breaking ball in, some changeups to lefties. Trent was very good, a lot of breaking balls, it’s good and sharp, gave our guys a lot of problems, even though he didn’t throw very hard. We felt like Sam Smith was their weak link, but he did a good job, a lot of sink, we stacked the lineup with lefties and had a lot of ground outs. You really have to make sure that he gets the ball up in the zone.
“Bullpen-wise, (Aaron) Greenwood is very good. His slider was good, and a really competitive guy. Good fastballs, upper 80s/low 90s guy with a good breaking balls. They aren’t afraid to pitch to contact but they’re going to get some strikeouts too. Laxer’s got a good arm, very aggressive. He’s your prototypical guy you want at the back, not afraid of anything, and can run that fastball up there. (Lefthander) Jeremy Massie throws a lot of breaking balls, not a very hard thrower, but he did a very good job. He was able to throw in to our lefties and make them uncomfortable, then throw breaking balls for strikes.”
Coach: Tony Robichaux
Postseason History: 3rd super regional appearance. Seeking 2nd trip to Omaha
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in the Lafayette regional. Won four games beating Mississippi State 5-3 in the final.
(Anonymous coaches break down the Ragin’ Cajuns)
Coach One: “They’ve got it going on, man. they’ve got a bullpen, they’ve got starting pitching that can go deep into a tournament. Good teams have a number of ways to beat you, and that club has a number of stars on any night.
“Trahan makes them go, Conrad and him are good up the middle, Strentz is a good player. They’re very skilled up the middle. It starts with Strentz, a nice player, then you go with Trahan and Conrad. he’s got that high back elbow with the bat over his helmet, he gets to his front foot and get fooled and still gets one out. Then Adams, just an electric player. They have a lot of guys with that high leg kick timing swing. Adams is a big-time weight shift guy, getting out to the front foot, timing the fastball.
They run the bases. They’ve got their verbal signs and their green lights. It’s a really well-oiled machine right now. They’re kind of like a stronger, faster version of those Coastal Carolina teams a few years ago, with the eye black and everything. They can play short and they can play big. As soon as you play back to protect the lines and the doubles, they drop a bunt down. You come in, they’re going to shoot one past you. You lift at the wrong time, they’re going to take third base. They don’t miss a beat. They’re very, very confident. It’s like a West Coast offense that can just score at any time, it’s crazy, crazy numbers scoring. That’s a dangerous club, man. A sidearm righty can get them because of their leg kicks, they’ve got four or five leg-kick timing guys. A sidearm slider guy that moves east and west, that could be their Kryptonite. Or a lefty with a curveball who can backdoor them. If they get into a big park, they could be neutralized a little bit. But there are not a lot of holes in that offense.”
Coach Two: “They’re very, very solid. What makes them so good is they’re just really balanced, and they can run. They can have seven runs on five hits, that’s what makes them so dangerous. Other teams you look up and it’s 12 hits and four runs. They’ll double steal with men on first and second, then a single scores two runs. Then then’ll get a walk and hit a home run, and suddenly they have five runs on two hits. That’s how they get you. And their pitching is good enough, it complements their offense.
“Their whole lineup is good, you don’t have a break and there isn’t an out in there. But Adams and Conrad, those are the guys who seem to start a rally or come up with the big hits to cap a rally. If you’re getting those guys out, you’re putting pressure on the other guys. Conrad can swipe a base too. Those are the guys with the smallest holes offensively too, in my opinion. Believe it or not, Adams is not a big kid. He’s got the power of a big kid, and he can run. He hits for average and he hits for power, that’s why he’s tearing up college baseball. He adjusts, he goes the other way. I’ll bet you a third of his home runs are to the opposite field this year. you can see there are counts he’s trying to pull it and hit it over the trees, then he adjusts and goes the other way. A very good hitter. For their power numbers, you’d think they’re these big kids, they’re not. They’re normal sized, athletic and can run. They’re strong for their size, they are aggressive and good hitters. What makes them so dangerous is they have power, they can run, and they can go the other way. They know exactly how to score runs, that’s what a good offense does. They can score runs with more than just base hits and doubles. What kills you with those guys is you might have a 2-1 count, two outs, and first and second, and the three-hole guy might put down a bunt base hit. My God, you can’t play up, you can’t play for that.
“Their infield, Trahan is just solid, he’s a winner, a very good shortstop. Trahan can run a little bit. Compton is very good at first, Conrad at second—they’re a talented college infield. Leonards at third, trahan, they all move around well and make the routine play look routine. Some guys make the routine play look hard. They field whatever they can get their hands on, very consistent defensively, and they’ve got good range. They make you earn everything on defense and don’t give you anything. Harrison does a great job out there in center field, covers a lot of ground. Adams is in left, I know they’ve switched out some other guys in right with Butler and some guys. But Adams and Harrison, they cover most of the outfield. Harrison throws extremely well, he’s like 90-94 off the mound, and he runs well and gets good jumps.
“Strentz is very solid behind the plate, he’s an older guy, he does a really good job. I think sometimes Tony (Robichaux) calls pitches and sometimes Strentz calls pitches. It’s nice to have a guy back there you can trust that won’t blow a game. And their backup is a kid named (Nick) Thurman, he’s really good as well. They have (Kyle) Clement, little lefthanded hitter, he hits, then they bring in (Greg) Davis, he’s had some big hits for them off the bench. Then Thurman, he’s gotten some hits. They’re very, very deep. You won’t see a team with this kind of depth, not with the 27 on scholarship and this much parity. It’s kind of a perfect storm as far as depth goes. They have three or four good hitters on the bench; you don’t see that much. Usually it’s the freshman with the deer in the headlights look, then a couple guys who are bitter they haven’t been playing. And Girouard too, that’s another guy we haven’t even talked about. He’s real good, can play third, DH, he can really hit too. They have four starters on the bench at any one time. That takes a couple years to put together, and they’ve got it.
“On the mound, Robichaux is solid. Upper 80s, maybe up to 92. He throws a lot of strikes. He’s tall and skinny and the ball gets on you. He doesn’t walk you, you’re not blown away by his stuff, but he pitches in on righties just enough, developed a good two-seamer that makes his breaking ball better, 91 in on you makes it that much tougher when he throws an OK breaking ball away. Baranik is good, a good slider, very deceptive with late break and a good changeup. He’s probably 87-90, 91, right around there. He’s got enough fastball to really make his slider effective. The slider is the pitch, and throws a good changeup, really good command.
“Cody Boutte is the guy that’s really helped solidify it on Sundays. I don’t think he had a great year last year, but has really put it together this year. A slider for strikes, doesn’t blow you away with his fastball, 85-87, but it runs, and he throws it to both sides of the plate. There’s enough differential with his fastball and breaking ball, makes hit hard to hit: an 86 fasball then a 70 mph curveball, keeps you off balance. A nice two-seam fastball.
“I think if anywhere they might be vulnerable, the bullpen might be it. But they have Wilson, he’s done a really good job. (Reagan) Bazar, the 6-8 freshmen, he threw the breaking ball for a strike against us and did a good job. They’ve got (Matt) Plitt down there. I’d have to say they’re solid in the pen as well. I think their bullpen is pretty good. If anything, down the last 10 to 12 games of the year, they weren’t getting 15 to 17 hits a game, and their pitching won a lot of games for them late. Wilson is a lefthander, there’s something to him that his ball gets on you. He’s not a 90 guy, he’s mid-80s, got a slider, pitches in. He’s good, got a lot of confidence. You could see, he got better as the year went on last year. He’s really come on. They’ve had some seniors on the mound really put it together on the mound. Plitt is a veteran guy too, he’s got a good arm, maybe 89-91 and got a good fastball, his breaking ball is good. He’s solid. Bazar, we did not see 98 like I heard, but he was 90-94 with a good breaking ball that he threw for strikes. He’s really good. I wish he was a senior, but he’s a freshman, so we’ve got to deal with him for the next two years.
“There’s no real weaknesses, except there isn’t really that (Aaron) Nola or that kind of guy at the top of the rotation. They’re all solid—nobody blows you away, but all solid.”