College Station Regional Capsule
Olsen Field, College Station, Texas
No. 1 Texas A&M (44-16)
23rd appearance, automatic, won Big 12 tournament
No. 2 Louisiana-Lafayette (43-15)
11th appearance, at-large, won Sun Belt regular season
No. 3 Ohio State (37-22)
18th appearance, automatic, won Big Ten tournament
No. 4 Le Moyne (34-17)
Fourth appearance, automatic, won Metro Atlantic regular season and tournament
Other Big 12 coaches describe Texas A&M’s playing style as a full-court press or an all-out blitz. The Aggies are constantly forcing the action with the running game and bunting for base hits. They’ve got the personnel suited to that style, helping them rank sixth in the nation in stolen bases per game (2.32). Outfielder Ben Feltner leads the way with 34 stolen bases in 37 attempts, and multi-tooled shortstop Brandon Hicks isn’t far behind with 28 swipes in 32 tries, to go along with a .349 batting average, 10 home runs and 58 RBIs. Hicks was part of a huge 26-man recruiting class that transformed the Aggies into a CWS hopeful. But holdovers like third baseman Blake Stouffer (.391 with nine homers and 76 RBIs) and Kyle Nicholson (11-1, 1.92) have been the real foundation of A&M’s success. Keep an eye on the rotation–lefty Kirkland Rivers made just his second start of the year against Texas in the Big 12 tournament and pitched very well to earn the victory.
Louisiana-Lafayette is stocked with live athletes and live arms. Junior catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.364/.407/.668 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs) could go in the first three rounds of the draft thanks to his powerful bat and decent catch-and-throw skills, and he has help in the Ragin’ Cajuns lineup in Jefferie Tatford (.362, 10 homers), Nolan Gisclair (.341, 11 homers) and Scott Hawkins (.349, 16 homers). Ace lefty Hunter Moody (8-3, 4.14) is experienced and extremely competitive, and Andrew Laughter (2-1, 2.73, three saves) is a power arm out of the bullpen with a 93-94 mph fastball and a good slider.
Ohio State entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes slumped when three-year ace Dan DeLucia was lost for the season to elbow surgery in early April. They were swept by rival Michigan and had to fight just to qualify for the conference tournament. Once they got in with the No. 6 seed, the Buckeyes made the most of the opportunity, sweeping through four games to clinch an automatic regional berth. Lefthander Cory Luebke (8-1, 1.84) might be the best pitcher in this regional, a likely top-five-rounds pick in next week’s draft. Two-way star J.B. Shuck (4-3, 4.48; .348/.400/.410) is a strong No. 2 starter, while also contributing to a solid Ohio State offense sparked by junior outfielder Matt Angle (.365 with 22 stolen bases).
The MAAC produced one of the 2006 NCAA tournament’s biggest upsets when Manhattan lefthander Chris Cody shut down No. 1 seed Nebraska in the Lincoln regional, and Le Moyne ace righthander Bobby Blevins is capable of pulling off a similar trick this year. An incredibly fierce competitor, Blevins pitched all of last season with a torn labrum in the hip of his landing leg and still went 10-2, 2.57. He’s been a weekend starter for four years, and you can count on one hand the number of times he’s pitched fewer than seven innings in an outing. He pitches in the 88-91 range and throws four different variations of his fastball, and his slider is a decent out pitch. The Dolphins have a strong No. 2 starter in Eric Beaulac (8-1, 2.55), and senior Ryan Woods (7-1, 1.31, 14 saves) has been steady as a closer despite unspectacular stuff. Shortstop Andy Parrino (.408/.482/.660 with nine homers and 44 RBIs) paces the offense.