College coaches break down the super regional teams for the series that start on Saturday (on the left half of the bracket). Sources were given anonymity in exchange for their candor. All times are Eastern. Rankings indicate national seeds.
Texas Christian (39-16) at No. 1 Texas (44-13-1)
Saturday: 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday: 1 p.m./7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Postseason History: Sixth super regional appearance (last in 2005). Seeking 33rd trip to Omaha (last in 2005).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Austin Regional. Won in three games, beating Army in the final.
“I think offense is a big weakness for them. They’re very fundamentally sound; like a typical Coach Garrido-coached team, they’re going to do a great job with their bunts and play excellent defense, but they’re going to have a hard time generating offense. If you can keep their leadoff guy off, I really don’t know where they’re going to generate offense from. Belt is their best hitter; he’s the one guy in their lineup that you kind of fear a little bit. But compared to other premium hitters in the country, it’s not like he’s rolling out a .380 batting average with 15 home runs. I thought he was their most dangerous bat. Rupp has some pop, he can hit a ball out of the ballpark. They’ve got the guys at the top of the order who know how to get on base. Then (Garrido’s) got Clark or (Russell) Moldenhauer DHing; Clark is really good against lefties, Moldenhauer’s good against righties. You only need to score five runs to win.
“They’ve got a bunch of execution guys in there, but I really think if you have above-average velocity, you’re going to be able to beat their bats. They’ve got a couple guys who can steal bases, you have to control the running game against them, but they don’t have the speed to steal bases against a team that pays attention to the running game. If you ignore them, I could see where they could steal some bases.
“Loy can play the heck out of shortstop. He plays an easy shortstop, and on that slow turf they have, that makes him play an even better shortstop. He plays a great shortstop on a regular surface, but on that slow turf, it makes him even better. He has range to both sides, and he’s got arm strength. He can play, and I think he’s a guy that can really trigger their offense a little bit. He’s got very little power, but he’s a very good hitter, and an athlete. He looks like a guy who would be playing point guard for Texas in the winter.
“They play good defense, they cover the entire infield—you don’t see many ground balls slip through their infield. Torres can play the bunt. Rowe covers some ground in center field, and both their corner guys can cover it. There’s a reason they lead the country in fielding (actually fifth in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage): They’ve got guys who can play all over the field. Rupp’s a solid guy, the ball’s not by him, the ball’s not on the ground. He does a good job behind the plate, and he’s got arm strength.
“With Ruffin, the catcher sets up down the middle, but he doesn’t throw anything down the middle—the ball goes to the corner. He has great life on his pitches. I’m not sure if anyone necessarily knows which direction it’s going in, but it’s great stuff right at you. He’s a tremendous competitor. When Ruffin has feel for his breaking ball, he’s real good. His breaking ball was just average when we faced him, but he showed a few that were good. He attacks the zone, an above-average mix with the fastball and the slider, throws both for strikes, and the slider out of the zone when he needs to. He’s got an occasional changeup.
“I thought Cole Green was good. He’s a high-energy, high-emotion kid, he competed like crazy out there. He has run on his fastball, then a hard slider that goes in the opposite direction. His slider is a legit swing-and-miss pitch when it’s on. I enjoyed watching him pitch.
“Jungmann, that’s a failure on the part of professional baseball, that guy being in college. If he’s on, you’re going to really struggle. He throws very hard, and he’s got good command, and he throws strikes. He looks like one of those guys that’s going to spray it, but he has good command and great stuff. He’s got confidence and doesn’t pitch like a freshman. He’s very aggressive, and he’s not afraid to get hit. He’s 89-93, he throws a slider that’s a very good pitch. He shows a changeup against a lefthanded hitter, but that’s not a big part of it.
“(Brandon) Workman is 89-92, he has great confidence in his fastball, just great stuff. Just another hard, great stuff guy, that’s learned how to pitch. All those guys were freshmen last year. Workman and Green have really learned how to pitch. (Austin) Dicharry is pretty darn good. He throws a fastball, an overhand curveball, a good changeup—throws all three of them to righthanded hitters and lefthanded hitters. He isn’t quite as pinpoint with his command as Ruffin and Wood, but he’s still in the zone with all three of them.
“Wood’s good. Anytime you can no-hit a team for 10 innings and give up two hits in 13 innings (as Wood did in relief against Boston College in regionals), that’s good. His changeup is one of the best pitches we’ve seen all hear long. He’d throw his changeup and then back it up. He can be like 91-92, from that slot with his deception, then to throw his changeup at 81-82. He’s fastball-changeup to righthanded hitters, and fastball-slider-change to lefties. His slider was clearly his third-best pitch, but clearly good enough to get lefthanded hitters out with it. I don’t think enough can be said about how hard he competes out there.
“You’re going to beat Texas 2-1. Hopefully you can find a way to score two runs against them and have a guy who will keep them from scoring more than two runs. You can’t walk people, you’ve got to play good defense, similar to most teams in super regionals. It’s not a park where you’re going to score a lot of runs anyway. It’s just a very tough park to score runs in, and their pitching’s so good. Their whole thing is getting the leadoff runner on. It’s built on scoring a run an inning, get the leadoff guy on, bunt him over or steal him. They have enough offense. The thing about them is they’re going to score, it’s team offense. One through nine, they all have their role, and they’re all going to execute. Hell, most of the time, they only need to score three or two, because their pitching’s so good.”
|Coach: Jim Schlossnagle.
Postseason History: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Fort Worth Regional. Won in three games, beating Oregon State in the final.
“I think their only weakness that they may have is maybe their starting pitching, with the exception of Winkler. They’ve struggled a little bit with Gerrish and whoever their third guy might be, but the thing that changes the whole picture is their bullpen has been so good. If you look at some of the numbers, like (Trent) Appleby and some of those guys, they’ve got more innings than some of their starters. So they can finish a game much better than most college teams.
“I think it’s a good matchup for them, just as long as they get their pitching. If Gerrish can give them some good innings, Winkler will be fine. They’ll be OK. Lockwood, two years ago, was maybe the best pitcher in our league. I don’t know exactly what happened, he’s not the same guy he was last year. He didn’t quite have the sink or the sharpness on his breaking ball that he’s had in the past. He’s still a guy that I would be scared of because if he gets it going, he can really pitch. Winkler’s got a great arm on him—he’s 94, 95 at times and has a good breaking ball as well. Gerrish is OK, in the 88-91 range.
“The one thing I’ve seen in most of Jim’s teams, they don’t beat themselves. They make very few mistakes, and they’ll capitalize on anything you give them. The people they’re playing from here on in aren’t going to make many mistakes either.
“On defense, Carpenter’s a great third baseman. Vern does OK at first, he’s an adequate first baseman. Holaday’s really good behind the plate, very accurate with his arm. The thing that impresses you, he’s just a hustler, a great leader on that club. It’s really hurt them that (shortstop Ben) Carruthers got hurt, because he’s kind of the leader of the team, kind of a scrappy kid. The thing that Featherston does is he’s a little erratic throwing, and if he has to throw on the run, he has a little bit of a hard time with that. But boy, can he hit too. He hits second in the lineup, and when he’s on, he can really hit.
“Offensively, with Carpenter and Vern and Ellington and Holaday, it’s a pretty good middle of the lineup where they can hurt you in a lot of ways. They have some power, and Carpenter and Vern are really good hitters, in my opinion. They just play so hard. If you watch Carpenter and Holaday, they are the classic college athletes that you want on your team; they are great leaders on the field, they’re hustling, they’re into it. My favorite player in our league is Carpenter—I just love the way he goes about it.
“Their power numbers aren’t going to be as good because of the field they play in. It’s a tough field to hit the ball out when the wind’s blowing in, like it usually is. But those three guys in the middle of the lineup, if they played at Arizona State, they’d have huge power numbers.
“At the top of the lineup, that’s where they really miss Carruthers too. Steglich can run, do some things, but he’s not the same guy as Carruthers. Schultz is a really good outfielder who hits ninth. He was just getting it going when he got hurt late, separated his shoulder I think, but I think he’s back now. Curry’s a big, strong, lefthanded hitter. If a pitcher makes a mistake, he can hurt you. He can be pitched to a little bit, but he’s got some pop in his bat. Coats is a good-looking freshman kid, a good athlete. He’s going to be a great player in the next few years.
“If you’re going to beat those guys, you just can’t make mistakes. You’re not going to keep Carpenter and Vern off base, but you’ve got to do a really good job against Steglich and Featherston, and not let those guys come up in RBI situations. You’ve got to play mistake-free baseball, because they’ll capitalize and get momentum going. Jim does a great job creating things offensively to score quick runs.”
Saturday: 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Monday: 1 p.m./7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
|Coach: Corky Palmer.
Postseason History: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 3 seed in Atlanta Regional. Won in four games, beating Georgia Tech in the final.
“They play the game the right way. They’re a typical Southern Miss team. But what they’re doing is they’re continuing to do things in the clutch and rise to the occasion, for a lot of reasons. Part of it is because it’s Corky’s last team, and part of it is because it’s a veteran team. They’ve been there, they were in a regional final last year. Overall as a team they’re very, very similar to what they’ve always been. Their pitching is very good, they’ve got a couple really good starting pitchers. Their pitchers are always around the strike zone, they all control the running game, and because of that they’re always in the game. In the postseason they’ve done the same thing, so even when they’re behind, they’re always in the game. They are a very, very good team.
“When you break them down a little bit, their pitching is good. McInnis is their guy; he’s as good a college pitcher as most college pitchers out there. There are some guys who will project better for the draft, but he’s 88-92 and consistently around the strike zone. McInnis has good command of his fastball, and two different types of breaking balls. He throws a 12-to-6 curveball, and also a harder slider that he throws. Ballinger’s a little bit of a harder thrower, 88-93, a little bit harder stuff than McInnis, but a really hard breaking ball too. He has a little more of a live arm than McInnis. Ballinger’s got really good movement on his fastball—it’s got more of a run to it than a sink. Our guys were coming back to the dugout saying his ball has more movement than anybody we’d seen all year. So he has plus movement on his fastball and he’s running it up there pretty good.
“I think with McInnis and Ballinger, they can beat anybody, and with Cargill at the back end. But I think their biggest weakness is probably those middle innings. If Ballinger and McInnis don’t pitch deep, their bullpen is suspect. The rest of their guys are just average college pitchers. Cargill is 82-85, a sidearm guy. He just changes the look enough. That’s why I think if those guys pitch into the seventh or eighth inning, bring that guy in, he can create problems. He’s a submarine guy. Stanley, he was like 86-88, and he had a pretty good 12-to-6 curveball that had pretty good depth on it, and he commanded it pretty well. He went to that pitch even behind in the count. His fastball command was a little suspect against us. He’s mostly a two-pitch guy with a pretty good curveball.
“When you look at their team, there is absolutely nothing flashy about Southern Miss. But they know how to play the game, just like they always have. Bo Davis has become the sparkplug guy for them. He’s absolutely what makes them go. He’s got very good numbers but he’s a clutch hitter, does a good job for them. They’ve got some power guys: Archer’s got some pop in his bat, and Brunty and Stephens are solid. But Davis is the guy that makes them go; he’s got a bunch of home runs, he can steal some bags, he’s definitely their go-to guy.
“They’re a streaky offensive team. If they get going, they can be tough. They can be pitched to; I think a guy with a solid breaking ball can keep them at bay for a while, because they’re a pretty aggressive team, a pretty aggressive fastball hitting team.
“I remember when (senior shortstop Brian) Dozier got hurt, it was as bad as it could be. They were pretty down. Vollmuth, they just threw him in there. I don’t think they expected him to play short for them at all, he was a third baseman. He’s done a pretty nice job—he’s played short fairly well for them, and I think they’re surprised, because they weren’t expecting that defensively. But he’s a good-looking player with an athletic body, and he’s got some tools. He’s going to be a good player for them. He just keeps on hitting for them—he had two home runs the other night. He’s really stepped up for them.
“With Dozier hurt, they’re just solid defensively across the board. Vollmuth has come in and done a pretty good job defensively. They’re not an extremely rangy team defensively, but they make the plays because their pitchers throw strikes and they’re always around the zone.
“Southern Miss is going to play with Florida, I’m telling you. They are similar teams in that Florida and Southern Miss do not beat themselves. I don’t think Florida is necessarily the most talented team in the SEC, but the reason Florida is in the super regional is because of the way they play the game. They don’t beat themselves. Their hitters are all tough outs, their pitchers all throw strikes, they keep you in games. Southern Miss is very similar to that. Their guys all throw strikes, their guys are all around the zone—(pitching coach) Scott Berry does an unbelievable job with those guys. And offensively, same thing: great two strike approach, all tough outs. Florida’s the same way.
|Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan.
Postseason History: Third super regional appearance (last in 2005). Seeking sixth trip to Omaha (last in 2005).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Gainesville Regional. Won in three games, beating Miami in the final.
|CF||Matt den Dekker||L||Jr.||.297||.412||.416||5||35||33||48||16|
“I love them—I think they’re going to Omaha. With Locke out front confusing hitters—he doesn’t throw hard but it seems like it’s 92, he goes changeup away, curveball away, changeup away, then bam—fastball in and you get jammed. He’s a plus pitchability guy. (Lefty Nick) Maronde and DeSclafani are very good when they’re on. Obviously Bullock is a shut-down closer that, when his velocity is 95-96, not many kids are going to hit that fastball-slider mix.
“Maronde is a three-pitch guy, he mostly stayed away from us, pitched to the arm side with the fastball. Maronde was throwing a slurvy-type slider with 2-to-8 action, but he just came after hitters with the fastball, and the slurve had good sweep and depth to it. He’s one of those guys, as a hitter, you have to take what he gives you, maybe try to single him to death the other way. The changeup was more of a third pitch to righthanders. DeSclafani has moved to a starting role; he’s just got such a loose, easy arm action, I think he’s going to be a stud. His fastball’s almost sneaky-quick because he has such a loose arm action. His fastball’s good, it’s got some arm-side run. His slider’s more of a 10-to-4 pitch, with some sweep and some depth. He’ll throw his fastball to both sides of plate, use his slider early for strikes or bury for a chase pitch. I like him a lot.
“Panteliodis throws slightly across his body, he’s a below-average athlete, a below-average fielder, kind of a thick, husky kid. He makes mistakes up in the zone. His changeup is his best pitch, it has some sink and he uses it to righties and lefties. His fastball is mid-to-upper 80s and straight, he throws it to both sides. His curveball has 1-to-7 break and plenty of depth, so you can’t give up on it if it starts head-high. He also throws a cutter. His move to first is outstanding—he uses a no-look move, like he’s looking at the plate then throws to first. Basically with him, you’ve just got to attack pitches up in the zone. Anything below the belt, you’ve got to sit on it.
“Preston Tucker is Pedro Alvarez—he just has that kind of power. He hits some of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen. The kid has just sick, sick power. He’s got the flattest swing of all freshmen I’ve seen this year. He’s got forearms like friggin’ Popeye. He just takes a flat, top-hand swing. You’ve got a better shot to get him out with a depth breaking ball than a same-plane slider. His barrel is in the zone so long, he’ll hit a slider, and he’ll crush a fastball. A downer breaking ball is a better pitch against him than anything that stays on the same plane. He’s also a very mature hitter for a young age because he makes adjustments throughout the game. He’s just good; if he turns on a fastball and hits a home run early, he knows you’re not going back in, so he’ll sit on the outside and hit something away, so you say, ‘What do we do?’ He’s a weapon, a three-run home run anytime.
“Den Dekker, Avery Barnes, Josh Adams—all these kids just know how to play the game. And Sully does as good a job as anyone getting his kids to play hard, aggressive, they have a good plan, they battle at the plate. They obviously know what they’re doing calling pitches. Buddy Munroe is solid behind the plate, McArthur has been in the league for years, and he knows what he’s doing. They’ve got Mooney and Adams up the middle, they’re good players.
“Now that he’s got Riley Cooper out of the lineup—that was the one guy you could get out. You could bury one pitch and he’d swing at everything. Now they’ve got the Pigott brothers platooning in right. Den Dekker can definitely be pitched to. I know Sully moved him down in the order, he was hitting first or second early, then hitting sixth or seventh in the SEC tournament—I guess he hit a little bit of a slump. He’s just long-limbed, a lot of leverage in his swing, and he can hit for power. He’s a good enough hitter that he can hit offspeed the other way, he’s not just a pull monkey or a breaking ball power guy. He’s definitely a good hitter. He’s been scuffling a bit, I’m not sure if he’s worried about the draft or what. But he can spray balls all over the field, he can steal bases with anybody, and he plays the hell out of center field.
“Barnes is a pain in the butt. He’s a kid who’s just going to hit the ball the other way. If you try to go in on him and jam him, he’ll cheat and pull the ball. He gets down the line at 4.1, 4.2 (seconds), so he’s a good runner. And Sully’s not afraid to put kids in motion—they’ll double steal more than anybody.
“In the SEC tournament he was playing Mike Mooney at short, Adams is now playing second. They lost to Arkansas in the SEC tournament, and Mooney did not play good defense at short. He wasn’t a slam dunk gold glover over there, but I know that’s why they recruited him, because supposedly defense was his tool. So I guess it just depends which guy shows. Barnes, den Dekker and the Pigotts, that’s a pretty good outfield. They do put (Jerico) Weitzel in at third for McArthur late in the game for defense. Weitzel’s built like a fire hydrant, just a stocky little kid, plays very hard. They’ve got a team full of kids who look like they’re just ballplayers, just know how to play the game.
Saturday: 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Monday: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
|Coach: Pat Murphy.
Postseason History: Fifth super regional appearance (third in a row). Seeking 21st trip to Omaha (last in 2007).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Tempe regional. Won regional in four games.