For more than a decade, we have enlisted college coaches who have faced the super regional teams to break down the matchups. Sources are given anonymity in exchange for their candor. All times are Eastern. Rankings indicate national seeds.
Indiana (46-14) at No. 7 Florida State (47-15)
Saturday: Noon (ESPNU)
Sunday: 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
Monday: 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Coach: Tracy Smith.
Postseason History: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Bloomington Regional. Won in three games, beating Austin Peay State in the final.
Scouting Report From Rival Coach
“They’re as real a team as you’re going to find, one through nine and on the mound—a pretty fun team to watch. It’s exciting. They’ll set the table one through nine and drive them in one through nine. It’s a pretty spectacular team that can flat-out run up and down the lineup, thump up and down the lineup. It showed with Clark getting his first home run of the year to win a game in that regional—that’s just who they are.
“Not only are they physical but they’re athletic. They are as athletic as anybody. You think, ‘Oh, Midwest, Indiana, big bodies.’ But I’m telling you, every single guy in that lineup will run, steal bases. They’re going to capitalize on mistakes and speed the game up on you. Not just the leadoff guy or the 9-hole guy—all of them. They’re all runners, they can all create and get on base, drag/push, get hit by pitch, not afraid to just stand in there. Or just hit; they’re almost all hitting .300 or more, they can beat you so many different ways. I don’t know if lefty or righty is the way to beat them, because they’ve got such balance from the left or right, I don’t think it matters who’s pitching.
“Schwarber is definitely one of the scary guys, him and Travis and DeMuth—all three of those guys can do some damage. Any of those guys can carry a team over a weekend. And don’t forget about Donley hitting like .350 with 20-plus extra-base hits. And jeez, it’s lefthanded and righthanded. You’ve just got to make them keep guessing and make quality pitches down in the zone. Like any other hitters, good pitching can get them out, sure, but only for so long. You can hold them down somewhat, you’re not going to stop them. DeMuth is a stud. If that guy doesn’t get drafted top 10 rounds, people are missing the boat on him. He’s got to go around the fifth round. He can run, hits lefthanded, he’s big, he’s got a great arm. I don’t know what else you’re looking for from a college player. He’s athletic, so if it doesn’t work out at third, put him in the outfield or make him a big second baseman. I think he’s a damn good player.
“Travis blistered, bashed and destroyed the baseball at Target Field (at the Big Ten tournament). You just try to hold him off as long as you can and scratch through some runs. You hope it’s your day. Basil’s a gamer, a scrapper, senior leader, tough guy. Those guys follow Basil. He’ll stand in there, give you quality at-bats, take great swings, drive guys in. He’s not just the fifth or sixth-hole guy; they believe in him. Then (Chris) Sujka and Nolden, they can beat you so many ways. Casey Smith too—he’s a good player, hitting .300, playing right field. Another guy that can handle the bat, hit and run, skill if he has to. Cureton, if he hits the ball in play, you’d better play the infield in, he’s got six steps and he’s on first base. He finds a gap and he’ll be on second or third. He’s as good a runner as there is in college baseball, smooth long strides, effortless run.
“I think they’re just like any other college team on defense—they have their good days and their bad days. If it’s a good day on defense, they’ll shine and compete. But like any 18 to 21 year olds, they have their moments they can kick the ball away and have their bad days on defense. Coming from turf to a natural surface could be an issue. To Basil’s credit, he gets to so many balls that it creates a few more errors than normal shortstops, he’ll try to show off his arm. DeMuth is athletic and has a cannon, he’ll make a few errors as well. Sometimes they’ll get in difficult position to finish a play, they’re getting to a lot more balls than an average team. You’ve got Clark over there with their other freshman second baseman, and Travis is pretty darn good at first. Cureton, I mean holy cow, that catch he made against Austin Peay was spectacular. It’s neat that everybody got to see that. He’ll cover gap to gap, he is unbelievable. Schwarber is just fine behind the plate, he’s very assertive, he’s a leader, he takes charge, he can throw. He’ll be fine back there. With the leftanders and the quick set times that the pitchers use, it gives him a chance back there.
“Against us, Slegers had one of the better performances I’ve seen this year; it was commanding the fastball to both sides of the plate, up when he wanted it, off when he wanted it, mixing in his breaking ball. He creates so much angle, and the biggest thing that stood out to us was command at the bottom of the strike zone. He’s an impressive, impressive pitcher. DeNato is your typical Friday night starter from the left side. Not a blazing fastball, a complete mix, competitive. He’s what you want on a Friday night to go out there and set the tone, create some attitude, field his position and throw strikes. (Lefty Kyle) Hart is the same thing; it might be a little lesser fastball at times, but what you’re going to get is similar, he’ll compete from the left side. They all compete. Then the freshman, Coursen-Carr, I watched him in the regional—he has a good fastball, comes at you with his fastball, I would guess probably 86-90, good breaking ball, attacked from the left side.
“In the bullpen, (freshman righty Scott) Effross and Halstead are good, they’re strike-throwers. When those guys are in the game, runs will be hard to find. Both those guys are probably 88-90, show you a 91 or 92, with a slider. Their starters are going so deep, they’re trying to get it to the seventh or eighth, so it’s usually a five- or six-out game from there.
“I think their whole demeanor as a team is very confident. They know they belong, they’re as good as anybody in the country, and they get after it. People are going to be excited to watch the way they play. Florida State will have their hands full. There’s not a team in the country that wouldn’t have their hands full. You look at Indiana on paper and go, ‘holy cow.’ Look at their resume—they went to Florida, they did a lot of things.”
Coach: Mike Martin.
Postseason History: 13th super regional appearance (sixth straight). Seeking 22nd trip to Omaha (second straight).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Tallahassee Regional. Won in three games, beating Troy in the final.
Scouting Report From A Coach
“I think they have really good starting pitching, especially with Weaver as their Friday night guy. He’s a top-notch guy, was up to 96 against us. Leibrandt and Sitz, they’re both very, very solid. They’re not going to go shut anybody out, but they’re going to compete in every game because they’re not going to give up a big inning. They’ve got the two matchup guys in the pen with (Gage) Smith and (Billy) Strode, and a good closer. Robby Coles is really good, lower arm slot, upper 80s/low 90s fastball and a good slider. So their pitching is definitely good enough to get them through a super regional to Omaha.
“The only reason I wouldn’t say Weaver’s a slam dunk first-rounder next year is because he’s 6-1-ish, I guess—not an imposing figure. But he’s a really good athlete, lean and fit. They haven’t had a power arm like this in a while. His fastball is electric, and he’s got good fastball command. The changeup and breaking ball are good enough right now where he’s going to go six, seven innings and you’re going to look up and you’ve punched out seven or eight times and get one or two runs at the most. In the past they’ve had guys that trick you or something, but this guy just comes right after you.
“Leibrandt is a solid No. 2, knows how to pitch, not going to strike out a ton, gives up his hits, but rarely gives up a big inning. If you get on, he controls the running game because he’s got a plus pickoff move. The changeup’s the pitch he wants to go to. The breaking ball is a hit-me breaking ball, he can make it bigger against lefties. It’s OK, not swing and miss, but he mixes enough in to keep you honest with it. He wants to get to that changuep late. Sitz is just kind of a stocky righty that can pitch, plus fastball command, really good feel for his changeup, enough breaking ball to get you out front. He’s an ultra competitor, loves the big-game situation. He’s a senior so he has a ton of experience, which this time of year means a lot.
“Strode is the matchup lefty, decent fastball, mid-80s, but can really, really command his breaking ball against lefties. Kind of a sweeping slider that just continues to go. He can throw it any time he wants; he’s really tough on lefties. Smith is really tough on righties, he does a pretty good job on lefties for a submariner, especially in their ballpark, because he just stays away and that’s the big part of their ballpark, so they just stay away and don’t give you anything to pull. He’s got a Frisbee slider, and for a submarine guy he’s got a pretty good changeup. He uses that a little against the lefties. They’ll let him face one lefty, then if there’s two or three in a row they’ll get him out.
“Offensively, they’re solid but not great. But the one thing they do every year is they coach those guys up. If you make an error with a guy on second, nine out of 10 times, they’re going to get the big hit with two outs. D.J. Stewart is a really good freshman, strong kid, can really hit. McGee is their captain; as he goes, I think their lineup goes, because he’s in a position to drive guys in. And he’s really improved behind the plate. When we played them last year, we thought at best he was an average thrower. But he’s improved—he doesn’t shut the running game down, but now he’ll throw you out. He catches every inning for them. And he’ll surprise you with some power, I don’t think he had it last year, but he’s gotten stronger. He’s got a solid approach; you think you throw a good breaking ball, next thing you know he bangs it out of the yard or in the gap. He’s a really solid player that has the experience and the makeup. Probably not the best prospect or best player on the team talent-wise, but puts that team on his back and rolls.
“Davis is strong and has got some juice. He can be pitched to, kind of got slider bat speed. If you make a mistake with a breaking ball, especially at home with that short porch, he’ll take advantage, because he’s a strong guy. Brizuela is really streaky in my opinion. He can be the best hitter in their lineup if he gets going, but the next day he might go 0-for-4 with three punchouts. (Brett) Knief and Seth Miller, they platoon with those guys, both solid players, but nothing special. (Outfielder/righthander) Jameis Winston is a freak, he can hurt you because he’s so athletic, but sometimes you can tell he’s a football player playing baseball because he’ll take two bad swings and one good one, and you just hope he doesn’t connect with the good one. He’s a freak athlete with a plus, plus, plus arm.
“Their infield defense, I think it’s OK. It’s not great, obviously. But they make the plays that they’re supposed to. I think the thing that might get them is they’ve got Gio Alfonzo the shortstop, he’s a sophomore, and they’ve got a freshman playing second. Brizuela’s a sophomore who played mostly outfield last year. So maybe the inexperience in the infield could catch up with them in a big-game situation, but you say that and they keep rolling. It’s a good infield—solid, not great. They made every play against us, but you can see they might be shaky at times a little bit. You can bunt on Brizuela. Most of his errors are throwing. He usually catches it but can make some mistakes and throw some balls away. Sansone is a decent player, limited range-wise but he makes the plays. They hit him in the bottom of their order, they’ll hit-and-run with him, sac bunt, safety squeeze. The big thing for the opposing team with Sansone and Alfonzo is you can’t walk them, you’ve got to make them swing the bat. A lot of times they’ll take until they get a strike because they’re trying to work the count and get on base. They’re both solid players, not dynamic, but they’ve done a good job for them this year.
“You don’t strike them out a lot—they put balls in play and make you make plays. They’ve got enough punch in there with Stewart, Davis and McGee that they can run a ball out of the yard or into the gap so they can score two runs with one swing. You don’t fear their lineup like some other teams, but they just grind you out. You’ve got to have depth in your bullpen to beat them on a weekend series.
“It’s crazy—when you look at their talent, their personnel, you’re like, ‘Florida State is not going to be that good this year.’ And every year they win 50 games. It’s a credit to coach Martin and Meat (Mike Martin Jr.) and Mike Bell, they coach them up as well as anybody.”