Oxford Regional Capsule

No.
1 Mississippi (40-20)
12th
appearance, automatic, won Southeastern tournament

No.
2 Tulane (41-19)
18th
appearance, at-large, Conference USA

No.
3 South Alabama (38-19)
24th
appearance, at-large, Sun Belt

No.
4 Bethune-Cookman (30-25)
Seventh
appearance, won Mid-Eastern regular season and tournament

Early
in coach Mike Bianco’s career, Mississippi gained a reputation
as a team that faded as the season progressed. The last two seasons,
however, the Rebels have surged as the schedule was ending. Last
year’s club advanced to the finals of the SEC tournament, and this
club won it. And Mississippi is the only SEC team to post a winning
record each of the year four years, topping the league with 70 wins
in that span. This club qualifies as his best coaching job yet, as
he’s pieced together a pitching staff full of freshmen and older
players with little experience. Nine different players started games,
and current staff ace Will Kiline (4-2, 3.13) has made four starts
all year. Ole Miss doesn’t make errors behind its staff and helps it
out with a punishing offense that ranked second to only Kentucky in
runs scored among SEC teams. Justin Henry, Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart
and Alex Presley, the first four hitters in the order, all batted at
least .347 and stole between 14 and 23 bases.

Coach
Rick Jones and his players didn’t want surviving Hurricane Katrina to
become the storyline of Tulane’s season, so it closed the
season with a 19-3 stretch to finish third in CUSA. The Green Wave is
back in Oxford, where it won the regional as a No. 3 seed two years
ago–a scenario that could again unfold given a pitching staff that
features four solid starters led by sophomore righthander Sean Morgan
(8-5, 3.32, 121 strikeouts). Tulane’s offense centers around junior
first baseman Mark Hamilton, the CUSA player of the year after
ringing up 18 homers and 64 RBIs at spacious Zephyr Field. Freshman
outfielder Warren McFadden led the team with 22 doubles and a .381
average.

Tulane
won a three-game series against South Alabama in March, but
senior lefty P.J. Walters allowed two earned runs and recorded seven
strikeouts in a complete-game effort that marked USA’s only win.
He’ll bring his 10-3, 3.34 record and 160 strikeouts in 143 innings
to the mound in the opener. No other Jaguars arm is quite as
imposing, but the offense is. It ranked among the top 20 nationally
in runs, batting, doubles and slugging thanks to senior third baseman
David Freese (.415-11-70 with 21 doubles as the SBC player of the
year) and freshman second baseman David Doss (.407, 19 doubles).

Bethune-Cookman
didn’t lose a MEAC game all year, following a 15-0 regular season
with a perfect run through the conference tournament to reach NCAAs
for the seventh time in eight years. Leading the conference in ERA
(4.22), fielding (.957) and scoring (6.0) help make those kinds of
years possible, and that type of solid all-around play gives the
Panthers a chance to pull an upset. BC-C beat tournament teams
Jacksonville, Oral Roberts and Stetson during the regular season.

College | #2006 #Postseason #Regional

Add a Comment

comments powered by Disqus