Super-Regional Breakdown: Part I




Super-Regionals Schedule

All games are Friday, Saturday, Sunday. All times are Eastern. Rankings indicate national seeds.

Texas A&M (48-17) at No. 2 Rice (52-12)
7 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPNU), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Oklahoma State (41-19) at Louisville (44-21)
2 p.m. (ESPN2), 12 p.m. (ESPNU), 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Clemson (41-21) at Mississippi State (36-20)
12 p.m. (ESPN), 12 p.m. (ESPN2), 1 p.m. (ESPN)

South Carolina (45-18) at No. 3 North Carolina (51-12)
7 p.m. (ESPN), 7 p.m. (ESPN), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

College coaches and scouts break down the super-regional teams. Sources were given anonymity in exchange for their candor.



RICE (52-12)

Coach (Record at school): Wayne Graham (736-282, 16 seasons).
CWS History: Five trips to Omaha, last in 2006; one championship in 2003.
CWS Route: Won Houston regional in three games, beating Texas Christian in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Joe Savery, 1b/lhp.360/.439/.496, 54 RBI; 10-1, 2.78
Brian Friday, ss.341/.429/.496
Aaron Luna, 2b.330/.460/.585, 11 HR, 61 RBI
Ryan Berry, rhp11-2, 2.72, 109-30 K-BB, 109 IP
Ryne Tacker, rhp9-1, 3.01, 67-21 K-BB, 72 IP
Cole St.Clair, lhp0-0, 2.37, 7 SV, 21-6 K-BB, 19 IP

"I really believe there's an intangible there that they expect to win, and it doesn't matter who they play. They've had different guys step up for them at different times in the season. Savery, we haven't seen his best stuff yet. We talk about how (Texas A&M's Kyle) Nicholson competes; well, Savery's about as fierce a competitor as you'll find. Those guys expect to win and expect to be there, I don’t think Wayne's done anything differently since he's been at San Jacinto (JC), they expect to win. They expect to win.

"It was not a very pleasant series against TCU, these fans are screaming at each other, and screaming at the umpires, not nice stuff. But the higher the pressure, the bigger the stakes, the better they play. (Center fielder Tyler) Henley got his swing back. He struggled for the first half of the season, his game's gotten better. Diego (Seastrunk) has gotten to be an offensive player at third base, done a nice job getting some quality at-bats. Friday's Friday--if you hit it to short it's going to be an out. He's got gap-to-gap power, he can hit it out, similar to (Texas A&M's Brandon) Hicks. Luna, he's got the ability to be a real big bat--if he has a hot series, he can be a difference maker. Luna's so short and compact to the ball, he's got so much strength in his swing. When he gets hot, look out. The thing with Joe Savery, whenever they need an RBI in the big part of the game, he's able to get it done. That's something you can't coach or teach.

"(Catcher Danny) Lehmann will be a key part of this series, just for being able to shut down that running game and the pitchers doing a good job keeping the guys close to the base. I think (Tacker's health) will really be a key for those guys. The roles he filled for that team, as a starter, closer, setup guy, he can be a difference maker. If he is back, and he's healthy, that will be huge. He's 91-93, good curveball and power changeup. He's got tools that make him a prospect.

"The strikeouts haven't been there for Savery. He went into the eighth inning (in regionals), his last three pitches were 90, 91, 91. We've been watching Joe Savery all year--he'll come out in the first inning 91-93 every time, from midseason on. You might get a walk, a cheap hit, but he'll sink his fastball and get a double play. He had two or three double plays in the game against TCU. St.Clair came in and pitched pretty well in that closer's role, and that's another key guy. Last year when he pitched for the national team, he was overpowering and unhittable. If he pitches this week like last week, that's a tough guy, if you're down a run or two. His velocity was 89-91, his curveball had pretty good depth and teeth on it, 76-78, travels a long distance. Berry's very efficient when he's on the mound, around the strike zone. (Righty Chris) Kelley's got the ability to be pretty effective, a three-pitch mix guy. You know who's been huge for Rice in that 'pen? (Lefty Bobby) Bramhall, look at his numbers (5-2, 1.94, 72-27 K-BB, 56 IP). He's 87-89 with a plus changeup. His numbers are loud. With Bramhall and St.Clair, and if Tacker is available, I don’t know if A&M has arms like that available late in the game.

"(Outfielder Jared) Gayhart last year as a freshman at San Jac, he was hitting in the nine hole. He couldn’t hit, but he's athletic, a former quarterback at a good football program, Katy High School. He had some big hits in that series against TCU, a big home run. He's another guy in the outfield. They always find guys who find a different level the higher the stakes.

"They have a little more balance this year, and they've got some guys that are coming into this thing on more of a high; last year those guys might not have been on the peak they're on now. Both teams are very competitive, two very highly competitive teams going after each other, and it should be a great series. History would say I'd go with Rice. Wayne's been there, the players have been there."



TEXAS A&M (48-17)

Coach (Record at school): Rob Childress (73-47-1, two seasons).
CWS History: Four trips to Omaha, last in 1999.
CWS Route: Won College Station regional, beating Louisiana-Lafayette in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Blake Stouffer, 1b.402/.490/.663, 11 HR, 84 RBI, 22 SB
Brandon Hicks, ss.338/.417/.537, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 28 SB
Craig Stinson, c.344/.426/.600, 12 HR, 50 RBI
Ben Feltner, of.309/.367/.374, 34 SB
Kyle Nicholson, rhp11-2, 2.17, 98-20 K-BB, 120 IP, 4 SV
David Newmann, lhp11-1, 2.98, 98-46 K-BB, 99 IP

"They're doing things in unconventional ways to find ways to beat you--squeezes, double squeezes. They've got some guys who can run in Feltner and Hicks, Stouffer's an average runner. If there's a guy on second, and there's a ground ball through the hole, (third base coach Matt) Deggs is sending them home.

"(On a squeeze with runners on second and third), when the guy picks up the ball, that third baseman's got to know that this guy's wheeling right behind him. They push the action on the bases--if the guy behind the plate is shaky, that guy's going to be exploited. Rice has a quality guy in (Danny) Lehmann--when it comes to taking control of the game, running the staff, he's as talented as I've seen.

"If you make mistakes, those guys will hit it far. I think Hicks is a guy that can hit a mistake, Stouffer can do that, he's been hot. Stinson's been on fire, he came up with some big knocks, and he's using the whole field to hit right now. These are two teams that are hot going into the series.

"I'd seen (Nicholson) early, it's tough to get by the body type, but you can't argue with the numbers. He's got some kind of intangible inside of him, he's a bulldog, he competes, he's going to give his team a chance to compete. All-out stuff, I'm going to take (Rice's Ryan) Berry. Nicholson, it's a heavy sinking fastball, 87-90, might bump a 91, he's a groundball guy. Throws a three-quarters-slot slurve in the high 70s. His change is OK. He's an intense competitor, that's the biggest thing. Newmann, he's a tough one. Nothing he does is real easy, throws a heavy ball, curveball and slider are pretty decent, real stiff delivery guy. Some guys have stepped up for them, Rob (Childress) has done a great job for those guys. Campfield hadn't done too much in the beginning of the season, now he's stepped up, running that thing up to 92-93 with a low slot. Rob's got them playing their best at the right time.

"The key guys are Stouffer (and) Feltner; (he's) got some intangibles, he can create some havoc with his speed. He's going to drag, push, slap, go like heck, and he's a 70 runner (on the 20-80 scouting scale). He can create some things, so shutting him down will be a big part of it. Some guys have emerged from the 'pen, quality efforts. Parker Dalton's been a great success story for them. At third base, (Brian) Ruggiano or (Diego) Seastrunk, I'll take Diego. Hicks or Friday, it's a tossup--if you like big, physical guys take Hicks, if you like guys who do it easy, Friday. Stouffer's more gap to gap, I'd say, but he's got the strength to drive it out. He runs, 22 for 31. Dalton is 18 for 22. They're pushing the action on the bases, that's a game."



LOUISVILLE (44-21)

Coach (Record at school): Dan McDonnell (44-21, one season).
CWS History: No trips to Omaha.
CWS Route: Won Columbia, Mo., regional, beating Missouri in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Isaiah Howes, of.392/.452/.684, 16 HR, 59 RBI
Boomer Whiting, of.368/.470/.423, 72 SB
Logan Johnson.363/.492/.650, 13 HR, 57 RBI
Zack Pitts, rhp9-3, 2.37, 82-22 K-BB, 110 IP
Justin Marks, lhp8-2, 2.61, 77-29 K-BB, 93 IP
Trystan Magnuson, rhp3-1, 1.02, 52-9 K-BB, 53 IP, 9 SV

"They're definitely a legitimate team to be where they're at. They have a group of guys who are seniors, and they didn’t want their careers to end. They run out a couple of bullpen guys who are seniors, but other than that, a freshman and a sophomore on the mound. They've got the experienced guys, the juniors and seniors, and to boot they've got some talent.

"You've got to be really damn good up the middle, and they are. Their catcher, (Derrick) Alfonso, he's pretty good, and Whiting is outstanding out there. To be honest, he's making stuff look a little harder than it should out there, dancing around, but that's his style, but he gets to balls others can't. (Shortstop Chris) Cates is every bit of 5-foot-3, but he might have been one of the best players we've seen this year. You hit it to him, you're out. Johnson's their best offensive player, and he's good around the bag too. They've got guys that will slide in hard, with their spikes up a little, that will frustrate you in other dugout, but it's not that bad.

"I wasn't that impressed with their arms, they won't intimidate you warming up, but most of them field their position and had as much intensity as the hitters. Marks sprayed it a bit and got bailed out, we had pretty big zones here. But he was up there pitching as a freshman. In the bullpen, they've got a couple of lefties, role guys who get it done, in (Gavin) Logsdon and (Skylar) Meade. (Kyle) Hollander who was at Oklahoma State, he was dynamite. Their closer (Magnuson) has a low slot, tall, uses his leverage, so if they have a lead late, I don’t see how you're going to score more than a run off that kid. Real tall kid, (fifth-year) senior, 6-foot-7, throws 90 with a slider. Extremely tall, uses that leverage. He may blow a one-run save, but with his stuff and the strikes he throws, I don’t see him giving up more than a run. You don’t see an arm where you say, holy cow, that guy's got a quick arm. The best pitch is probably Hollander's breaking ball. Magnuson's the one kid who has pro ball stuff. The other guys are just good-looking college pitchers.

"They're a team that can get it done offensively, extremely aggressive. You've got to be willing to budge a little bit. I think you've got to be careful with the attacking philosophy, because the hitting is contagious there, I think you've got to be willing to expand the strike zone, maybe you walk a few guys, but you don't play to their strength, which is stringing hits together. Mix pitches, stretch out the plate, see what the umpire will be willing to give you. Just like any other team, they've got some hitters in there who will make you pay for some mistakes.

"With (third baseman Chris) Dominguez, if you hit your spot it's over, but if you make a bad pitch there's a good chance he's going to hit it out of the park. He's a raw kid, a huge kid. He can look awful on an offspeed pitch, but then if your guy leaves it up, he can hit it out of the park. I think you've just got to be aggressive when you're throwing to that guy, but not be too careful. But he honestly is just a freshman hitter, raw, swings it, can make you pay, but if you go out there and do your job, you can get him out. When he's older, maybe he can be more like (Oklahoma State's Tyler) Mach or (Corey) Brown, where your catcher and pitcher could say, 'We made a great pitch, but he hit it out of the park anyway.' But he's not there yet."



OKLAHOMA STATE (41-19)

Coach (Record at school): Frank Anderson (154-88, four seasons).
CWS History: 19 trips to Omaha, last in 1999; one championship in 1959.
CWS Route: Won Fayetteville regional in three games, beating Arkansas in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Tyler Mach, 2b.411/.465/.599, 16 HR, 81 RBI
Corey Brown, of.339/.495/.743, 21 HR, 70 RBI, 23 SB
Matt Mangini, 3b.343/.444/.548, 9 HR, 49 RBI
Ty Wright, of.411/.465/.599, 6 HR, 40 RBI
Oliver Odle, rhp7-4, 4.39, 63-12 K-BB, 94 IP
Justin Friend, rhp6-3, 2.36, 7 SV, 77-13 K-BB, 69 IP

"They're just big boppers. You get a team like  that, all you've got to do is focus on executing some pitches, and you're OK. Their front six guys, they'll run out Wright and (outfielder Keanon) Simon, Brown and Mock, Mangini, (first baseman Rebel) Ridling, those six guys are a handful, they are tough to deal with. The bottom part isn't as dangerous, they'll run out (shortstop) Jordy Mercer, (catcher Ryan) Flavell, the bottom three isn't as much of a concern, but the front three can do so much damage. You'll blink and look up and they can put three or four runs up on you. It's absolutely critical that you can't give those guys anything, you can't walk guys or hit guys, because a walk can lead to a two-run homer. It's a very imposing lineup, and I can't imagine there are going to be a lot of lineups in super-regionals that will have that kind of offensive firepower.

"On the flipside, though, they're very vulnerable on the mound. They don’t really run anybody out there that's a knock-out, shut-'em-down guy. If they get to Omaha, I think their pitching's going to let them down. If they get into a slugfest, they're going to win the majority of the time. If they run into a front-line guy that can neutralize the offense, I don’t see them winning a lot of 2-1 games. I think that staff is going to let them down. Odle's a competitor, his stuff wasn't overwhelming by any stretch, his velocity wasn't overwhelming. They're going to rely heavily on just trying to outscore people. Their bullpen's OK, they'll have a couple of guys, but they brought their ace guy (Friend) out against us, he was OK.

"It all comes down to if they are going to hit, and they usually hit. I saw Mach against this lefty, he took a fastball down and away at the knees on the black, drove it dead center for a grand slam. Man, you don't see college hitters do that. That was pretty impressive. They've got the kind of offensive club, if they get hot, they're hard to deal with. To be honest with you, we went into it thinking we had to do a lot of offspeed stuff. I think if you can execute some pitches, like anything else,  you'll have a chance to manage it. But they will make you pay for mistakes. The ball's going to find its way out of the park, that's just the way it is."



MISSISSIPPI STATE (36-20)

Coach (Record at school): Ron Polk (1,114-555-2, 28 seasons).
CWS History: Seven trips to Omaha, last in 1998.
CWS Route: Won Tallahassee regional in three games, beating Florida State in final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Ed Easley, c.367, 12 HR, 61 RBI
Brandon Turner, ss/2b.400, 2 HR, 43 RBI
Jeffrey Rea, 2b/cf.342, 13 SB
Mitch Moreland, 1b/lhp.333, 8 HR, 56 RBI; 3-0, 3.32, 27-3 K-BB, 19 IP
Chad Crosswhite, rhp8-4, 4.16, 61-25 K-BB, 71 IP
Aaron Weatherford, rhp3-2, 3.34, 4 SV, 66-22 K-BB, 62 IP

"They're really veteran, Ron (Polk) redshirts a lot of guys their freshman year, he ends up having a lot of guys who are there five years. They've got a lot of seniors, guys who seem like they've been there forever. Even the redshirt freshmen have been there. It's a veteran club, and they play well together. Their pitchers, there's no dominant guy on the mound, not like there's a guy that's just a dominant guy.  Just a very average pitching staff. If you're swinging it well you can hit them. They throw strikes.

"Jeffrey Rea seems like he's been there forever at second base. I think they were last in the SEC in pitching this year. Just a lot of veteran guys that played and have been around. There's not a superstar guy that really jumps out at you. Probably the most talented guy is Easley, the catcher. They're just a solid club. I was not surprised that they won in Tallahassee at all, because they're a veteran club that's well put together. It's not a team that's like a Vanderbilt or Arkansas.

"Crosswhite is not (Mississippi's) Lance Lynn. He's not one of those guys. Their pitching numbers were terrible for most of the year. But to their credit, those guys got better and better as the year went on. Crosswhite is an 89-92, slurve guy. (Lefthander Justin) Pigott is low 80s, 82-85 with a plus-plus changeup. They're just dudes, just guys. Josh Johnson's got a good arm, just kind of a guy. Just a 90 guy. Weatherford, he's their hardest thrower. He's been their go-to guy. He's legit 90-92, bumped 93 against us, with a slider, their hardest thrower. But they pound the zone, look at their walks to strikeouts, that's the key.

"They're not aggressive offensively. There's nothing really that special. They're solid, they just play. The thing about Mississippi State is it just depends when you catch them. They have the ability to go into Tallahassee and roll off three Ws. They're not going to steal bases, there's never been a Ron Polk team that steals bases. That's not their M.O. They just pretty much sit back and play station to station. Rea can run and Goforth can run, but look at their numbers, they don’t steal a lot of bases. That's not their style, they play station to station, base to base. If they're hitting, they're going to win. Clemson with their pitching, I don’t think it's a tall task to stop them from hitting.

"It's not hard to play there at all. They have big crowds, but they're older. It's not a hard place to play. Not a very vicious crowd. It's a big crowd, but not vicious."



CLEMSON (41-21)

Coach (Record at school): Jack Leggett (649-280, 14 seasons).
CWS History: 11 trips to Omaha, last in 2006.
CWS Route: Won Myrtle Beach regional in three games, beating Coastal Carolina in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Brad Chalk, of.384/.503/.477, 8 SB
Andy D'Alessio, 1b.317/.415/.629, 13 HR, 56 RBI
Marquez Smith, 3b.329/.410/.560, 13 HR, 56 RBI
Daniel Moskos, lhp3-5, 2.91, 6 SV, 74-33 K-BB, 74 IP
David Kopp, rhp6-2, 3.67, 75-27 K-BB, 98 IP
Stephen Clyne, rhp5-2, 2.28, 3 SV, 47-17 K-BB, 43 IP

"I'll tell you this, I think they might have the best pitching remaining of the field. When you look at their ability to go with Moskos on Friday, Kopp on Saturday, and they can match up as they need to on Sunday with (righthander D.J.) Mitchell or the lefty (Ryan) Hinson, depending on matchup. They have two guys in bullpen who can be lights out. Maybe the only thing they didn’t show you is a lefty specialist, but with Hinson in the 'pen, maybe they've addressed that.

"With Chalk in the lineup, Clemson's a different team. He's a run producer, he gets on base, a catalyst, tremendous experience-- a three-year starter, been to Omaha. I think Clemson's a team to be reckoned with. I think any time you lose a shortstop, especially a good one like Stan Widmann, any ballclub in college is going to scramble. College baseball, parity's staring you in the face when you look at these matchups. It makes it much more difficult to overcome injuries. I think you saw them have to adjust and scramble, but in the end, this time of year, pitching wins games. They've got the pitching to win games, especially if D'Alessio and (shortstop Taylor) Harbin and Chalk do what they can do. To me their quiet hero is (catcher Doug) Hogan, if you took him from this team they'd really be in trouble. He's gotten a lot of key hits and he catches games well.

"We saw Moskos, he was good. Reports I've gotten say his fastball has backed up as the season's gone on. We saw him 90-94, with a good slider, good changeup, good curveball. Four good pitches. The fastball and slider can be overpowering. He's a guy. I think they could possibly have the best pitching mix of any team left in the tournament. I think Clemson's arms are better than (North) Carolina's. Their pitching in a three-game series is a strength. Right now they're slugging the bats well, but they're very capable of winning a 3-2 game. I like their team, they play hard, and those two guys at the back of the bullpen, Clyne and (righty Alan) Farina, have plus stuff and aggression. Offensively, having Chalk back is huge, he sets the table, creates pressure on the defense, gives RBI opportunities to D'Alessio, Smith and Harbin. And don’t forget about Hogan, the quiet clutch guy, I think he's the leader for them too. Good team, and capable of comeback wins. Late in the year, they believe they can come back and win."



NORTH CAROLINA (51-12)

Coach (Record at school): Mike Fox (392-172-1, nine seasons).
CWS History: Five trips to Omaha, last in 2006.
CWS Route: Won Chapel Hill regional in three games, beating Western Carolina in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Dustin Ackley, 1b.427/.465/.608, 7 HR, 65 RBI
Josh Horton, ss.333/.445/.544, 8 HR, 49 RBI
Reid Fronk, of.327/.437/.563, 11 HR, 51 RBI
Robert Woodard, rhp10-2, 3.02, 73-24 K-BB, 98 IP
Alex White, rhp6-4, 3.87, 78-42 K-BB, 88 IP
Andrew Carignan, rhp1-1, 1.53, 56-19 K-BB, 47 IP, 14 SV

"I think North Carolina's very good--probably the best team in the ACC. They've got tremendous experience. They've got a leader they believe in in Woodard, who's going to go out and pitch a great game against anyone he faces, that's just who he is. He has strong makeup, he's going to pitch his game, locate--he gives (UNC) a lot of confidence in Game One. And Carignan at the back of the bullpen gives them a lot of confidence if they're ahead. Horton's a clutch player, and even though (third baseman Chad) Flack's numbers are down this year, he's a clutch player--how many kids can say they've hit a walk-off home run to go to the World Series. I think Ackley's the best young hitter I've seen in years. He's exceptional--you're not going to find a lot of guys who can hit like that. He can flat hit, he's really good, and he can really run up the line.

"The guys behind Woodard are talented. Alex White's talented, he has a big league arm, like a young Jake Peavy. (Righthander) Luke Putkonen has great stuff, and he's pitched some big games late, very good in the ACC tournament. Their rotation is solid, and they've got some guys in the middle who are good too. Experience, just a solid club. There's no major weakness on Carolina, they're really good, maybe the most complete team in the ACC.

"The pitching staff is solid from top to bottom. They've got a great No. 1 starter who's been through the battles, two guys behind him with great stuff--their pitchability is not to his level, but they're talented. They have a very, very dependable closer who can strike people out. Reid Fronk has really come on, he's hit the ball on the nose for the last month, and he's a power threat. They have excellent lefthanded hitters. I would say a great lefty might be a tough matchup for them, but vulnerable wouldn't be the word--I don’t think you could say a lefty could beat them. They do hit lefties well. If I had to go beat them, and I had a guy with a great lefthanded breaking ball, I'd feel like I had a chance. I think if you've got a righthander without great stuff who just mixes things around, you could be in trouble. They're great hitters, they adjust, they're not just one-spot hitters. They have a group of kids who played for the national title last year, and I think there's great value in that, I really do."



SOUTH CAROLINA (45-18)

Coach (Record with school): Ray Tanner (499-218, 11 seasons)
CWS History: Eight trips to Omaha, last in 2004.
CWS Route: Won Columbia, S.C., regional in three games, beating Charlotte in the final.

Top PlayersKey Stats
Justin Smoak, 1b.317/.436/.627, 21 HR, 69 RBI
James Darnell, 3b.335/.455/.621, 18 HR, 60 RBI
Travis Jones, 2b.320/.415/.604, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 13 SB
Phil Disher, dh.327/.413/.605, 15 HR, 61 RBI
Harris Honeycutt, rhp8-5, 3.59, 104-42 K-BB, 90 IP
Arik Hempy, lhp6-3, 3.38, 57-30 K-BB, 59 IP

"I think offensively, they're a different team at home than when they get out on the raod. They thrive on the home run in that little teeny tiny ballpark at home. Honeycutt's a strike thrower, upper 80s. He's got a decent changeup, but it's not special. He knows how to pitch. Hempy can be pretty special at times, depends what day it is; he has really good stuff. Smoak's their best hitter, he's special, and I really like Jones and Darnell. When you're talking about South Carolina, at the plate, they're extremely aggressive. Top to bottom, early in the count, they're a very aggressive team. They're not going to let a fastball go by without swinging at it.

"They all play real, real hard. They are going to get after it. Ray Tanner's teams do that year after year after year. That's one thing Ray's teams do, whether they have talent or not. They're very aggressive at the plate, they're going to swing it. They're not worried about pitch counts, they're going to swing the bat aggressively. Bottom line is you've got to be able to mix your pitches and you can't fall into patterns and you can't double up a lot (on your pitch selection). If you fall into a pattern, they'll end up hammering it. When I say they're not going to let a fastball go by, they're not, but that doesn’t mean you can't beat their bats with good stuff. They are an aggressive team from how they get after it at the plate.

"When (Wynn) Pelzer's right, he can be unhittable. When it's mid-90s, he's got his split going, he's pretty tough to hit. We saw (Mike) Cisco, he's a lot like (North Carolina's Robert) Woodard, he can really pitch, a three-pitch mix guy. He's 85-88 with the fastball, good feel for a breaking ball, just knows how to pitch--good feel, good command."