Coach: Augie Garrido.
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.
"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.
"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."
|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.
"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.
|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.
"Spence is a touch and feel guy, he can really, really differentiate speeds. He's got I don't know how many pitches. It's a handful of pitches, he throws them all for strikes, he's competitive. He's very good as well. You can touch the ball against him. He does strike people out, but there again, everybody throws righthanded hitters at him, and he abuses righthanders. If they stack a couple lefthanders, you'd like to see what will happen, because the other way doesn't work. I like Spence, I don't love Spence. He's very, very good. It's a change, a slider from different angles, a curveball, maybe even an eephus pitch—it's an old-school complete mix. Out of 100 pitches, you may see 20 fastballs. There's no pattern he could fall into. If he makes mistakes and the ball's elevated, he can get hit. He's good though. They're both great off the mound, phenomenal off the mound. There's no better fielder in the country than Leake off the mound. This guy's unbelievable off the mound as well as Leake.
"Blair's got good stuff. He's pretty firm, low slot, 88-91, pretty good breaking ball, he's tough. He's a serviceable guy, a pretty talented guy. Lambson's got a filthy change, a money change. He can throw that change at any time in any count, that's his weapon. He throws strikes and has a very good pickoff move. (Jordan) Swagerty is competitive, has pretty good stuff, but for me he's somewhat of a typical freshman: When he gets in trouble, he has a tough time getting out of it. I think Swagerty's got good stuff but won't lead them to the Promised Land. It's more about Lambson out of the pen, a lefthander who can really change speeds with the change. They're not deep on the mound. You're talking about Spence, Leake, Blair, Swagerty and Lambson, and (Jason) Franzblau—they really have five or six go-to guys. But they're mentally tough, they make pitches, they can pitch backwards.
"Offensively, the guy you really have to be concerned about is Kipnis. Everybody else, they don't put any fear into you. I think they have been extraordinary at home, I think they have the best home-field advantage in the country. They're always close to 30 wins at home. They're scrappy, they don't chase pitches. The one thing they've always had is they've always had high walks and medium to low strikeouts, and they've continued that even with different personnel. Whenever they get guys on base, there are chances to score. They do a good job producing runs without the thunder.
"Ramirez is just OK, to be honest with you. I know he's had a pretty good year, but he's not in that (Petey) Paramore/(Ike) Davis/(Brett) Wallace category. He's a threat, but you can get the ball in on him. He wants to get extended, he's got some power to the middle of the field, and to the opposite field. He's a good player, a solid player, he had a good year for a juco player—you don't see many of them make that much of an impact. I think he's a good, solid player, but is he a high-end player? I don't think so. I think he does a good job of blocking and receiving with the pitching staff.
"I think Maggi's a real good player, really a tough out, very efficient defensively, not flashy at all. He's a solid runner, a plus runner. He gives you great quality at-bats at the top of the lineup, doesn't strike out, takes his walks. I like him the best of the freshmen. (Riccio) Torrez is dangerous, but he's pitchable, he's really pull-conscious. He's good for a freshman. MacPhee is a scrappy No. 9 hitter, somewhat offensive in his own little way.
"I like the outfield, they're fast, all lefthanded. Kipnis is clearly the superstar. Newman is a dangerous guy, he can play real good, sound defense in right field. Calhoun is a dangerous, offensive guy. Ruettiger is OK. They hit righthanded pitching, they've got a little power, they all can run a little bit. Both those outfielders around Kipnis are good players.
"I think they're pretty good defensively. Not like we're used to from them, but they've got a platoon with (Jared) McDonald and (Raoul) Torrez at third. Maggi is the best defender in the infield at short, Torrez and MacPhee are adequate. Their strength defensively is Ramirez, Maggi and their outfield, and believe it or not their pitcher off the mound.
"(To beat them), you have to throw strikes, and you've got to pound the zone, or else they're going to get into your bullpen. You've got to get that leadoff hitter out—they create havoc, they've got good team speed, they've got enough thunder in the lineup with Kipnis and Newman and Ramirez to hurt you. Their front-end and back-end are tough outs, and their middle can hit. If you tippy-toe around the strike zone, they're going to get you, no question about it. And Leake and Spence are going to be out there regardless of what you do, they're going to throw their pitches. You've just got to get early outs and make sure you stay away from big innings."
|Coach: Jack Leggett.
Postseason History: Eighth super regional appearance (last in 2007). Seeking 13th trip to Omaha (last in 2006).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Clemson Regional. Won in five games, beating Oklahoma State in the final.
"I thought they were very deep on the mound, very deep. The two lefthanders, in particular, Dwyer and Harman, are two of the best guys we've seen all year. I thought they were very good: They can throw changeups, they can throw to both sides of the plate. Both of them really hid the ball, threw across body their big, so they had deception, and were both 88-91. They were very impressive.
"(Righthander Tomas) Cruz does a good job in the bullpen—he's an offspeed guy, a changeup and a slider, pitches down in the zone, stays composed. Vaughn has a great slider, he can throw it wherever he wants to—start it on the plate and finish it off, start it on your hip, backdoor it to a righthanded hitter or a lefty. I thought overall, they pitch good. They made the pitches when they had to. When they got in trouble, they made the pitches and got plays. (Lefty Ryan) Hinson is OK. I think his command is just OK. He isn't quite as hot with his fastball as some of the other guys on their staff.
"There were some balls hit very, very well that they either ran down in the outfield, or made inning-ending double plays on line drives. I thought their catchers are very good. They threw a lot of sliders and changes, they were off the plate at times, and the catchers did a great job blocking them. I like Freeman. Him and Miller cover the middle as well as anybody, and Freeman has some bat speed and runs. Those guys made play after play, and Stolz is a really good defender at third base. Miller impressed me. I think that guy's going to be a freakin' great player. He had some chopped balls real high in the six-hole, as soon as he got it he threw the dog out of it over there. He can cover 10 feet like it's two feet. That gives them a real good infield.
"I think they want to run on the bases. If they face a lefthander, I think that can neutralize them. It slows their running game, and they have a lot of lefthanded hitters in that lineup. What they did do, they really, really try to stay behind the ball and go the other way against lefties. All their guys in their lineup but one or two can really get down the line, so you cannot make any mistakes defensively with ground balls. I like their lineup, I think it's balanced. The Epps kid leading off, you can actually make him look really bad for a strike or two, but then with two strikes he's one tough son of a buck. He re
"I'm not sure about Paulsen; I know he's put up numbers, but I think he's pitchable. It's a lot of pull to the approach, and I didn't see him use the whole field. Parker's a presence for them, and when they get production from Boyd and Nestor, then they have enough bats up and down the lineup. Boyd came on strong down the stretch, he did some things. The one thing is they are pretty lefthanded; Oliver shut them down in the first game of that regional, so the matchups matter for them."
|Coach: Billy Godwin.
Postseason History: Third super regional appearance (last in 2004). Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Greenville Regional. Won in five games, beating South Carolina in the final.
"They're very, very solid offensively. They can hurt you basically one through nine. If you make a mistake, they can hurt you. They're a legitimate team. You have to be extremely careful, obviously, with Roller. Harris is a guy at the bottom of the order they try to hide, but he can really, really hurt you. He has great tools, he has power, the ball flies off his bat, and he can run. He's a middle of the lineup-type threat hitting in the eight-hole. If they have a weakness, obviously something's wrong with Jared Avchen's arm—he's having issues with his throwing. It will be interesting to see if North Carolina tries to take advantage of that. And they've had some errors in the middle of the infield that you worry about. Harrington's a really good, scrappy player, but are they going to be able to make the plays on this stage?
"They have some speed, some power, they're very disciplined at the plate, and very rarely will they chase pitches out of the zone. When you have teams that have balance, have speed, have power, and yet have an idea what they're doing, that's a great combination to have, and they have it. They are talented enough to play in Omaha. It's not going to be easy for them to beat a team that's been there and done it. The difference between the two teams is just pure stuff from the starting pitchers, bullpen experience, and bullpen depth. They're physically stronger than North Carolina, they have some speed, and they've got a lot of momentum on their side right now. The other thing that's interesting is, if East Carolina scores six or seven, will North Carolina be able to match them?
"It will be interesting to see when they pitch Heston. He pitched on short rest in the regional, and when he faced us fresh I thought he was just OK. I like Maness—he can throw strikes and change speeds—and I like Mincey, he does the same thing. I think the best guy we saw on their staff is (Kevin) Brandt, the lefthander. And he's already beaten North Carolina this year. Velocity-wise, it's not going to light you up, but hitters aren't going to catch up with it. You see 86 and think, 'Why aren't we crushing this pitch?' He has the ability to sneak it by you. You think it's going to be a lot softer than it is—it's a hard 85 or 86. All I know is his fastball gets by some fastball hitters. His breaking ball's OK, but he didn't throw it for a strike as much against us, he was more fastball-changeup. He's got good mound presence, doesn't let things bother him, seems relaxed. It will be interesting to see if they start Brandt a game. Are they going to do that? Is the coach going to take one of their guys out of the starting rotation and throw a lefty at them? I think if they do it, it would be the right call. All signs tell you to throw him, but it would be changing what they've done all year.
"If I was on offense, if I had the speed, I'd try to put pressure on Avchen and try to force the issue there. He doesn't throw the ball around the infield between innings, he just lobs it. There's something there; he's banged up. I would try to put pressure on him. But then again, ECU does a really good job holding baserunners, they've got quick feet. Their pitchers do a real good job keeping that running game at bay.
"What's intriguing about this series is one, it's a rivalry. Two, one team's been there and knows what goes on, understands the pressure of it. It's a new experience for one team, an old one for another one. It will be interesting to see how East Carolina plays on the road. Also, while North Carolina has really good experience and depth in the bullpen, East Carolina's bullpen is mostly young guys. Some of these games will be won or lost late, and it will be interesting to see how ECU's young guys hold up. Just keep putting pressure on them, try to get to their bullpen. If their starter doesn't go five or six, they're going to have some issues.
"(To beat them), you try like crazy to get the first out of every inning. They play on emotion, they play on momentum. If you get the leadoff hitter out each inning, it'll go a long way toward holding them at bay. Obviously you worry about Whitehead getting on base. The middle of the lineup is very formidable, no doubt about it. If Roller's hitting with nobody on, you're in good shape. They'll go three or four innings with nobody on and then boom, they'll have the bases loaded with nobody out, and all their players are on the top step in the dugout. They play that way, very emotional. If you game-plan against them, you really have to get the leadoff hitters out each inning, really go at those guys, minimize your walks, and try to keep Whitehead off base. He's kind of the straw that stirs them offensively. You want Batts and Roller to hit with nobody on base. But the thing is, you have to be careful with all of them."
|Coach: Mike Fox.
Postseason History: Fifth super regional appearance (fourth in a row). Seeking eighth trip to Omaha (fourth in a row).
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Chapel Hill Regional. Won in three games, beating Kansas in the final.
Scouting Report"When we played them, I thought they came in as advertised. They can really pitch it, they play solid defense, and they've got a couple guys in the middle of the lineup you have to worry about. One thing I noticed early is they just don't have that depth in the lineup they've had the last couple of years. They're still good hitters and still have a lot of talent in their lineup, but they don't the experienced depth, with guys like Chad Flack, Seth Williams—those guys played in super regionals and Omaha, and they were good players. You know what you're going to get with Ackley, and I thought Seager was probably the second-best offensive player in the ACC this year, but they have to get some of the role players to play well for them to score.
"I don't think you have to worry too much about Alex White, because he's going to throw well. He's been in this situation for two years in the past. He's the one guy in their rotation that's going to go out there and have a chance to dominate a game, even against a good offensive team. Warren struggled with command against us, but he's throwing harder than he has in the past, and his stuff was good, he just got behind in the count. But shoot, the kid's a proven winner. He's won every year he's been there; he's won a lot of big games for them. There's not a team in the country that can match up Friday, Saturday and Sunday with these guys. You've got a junior and a senior going your first two slots, and both of them have pitched in Omaha for two years. The stage in the super regional is not going to affect how they go about their preparation. And Harvey's been pitching on a big stage all his life, so it's not going to affect him either. He had his struggles early in the year, but the last three or four times on the mound he has been pretty dominant.
"I like Moran a lot. I just don't think Moran can throw three innings every game. He's got deception to him, he can get out lefthanded hitters and he can get out righthanded hitters. I'm not really sure how he does it, but he does it at a high level. I thought he was probably the best bullpen guy in the league this year. They will be able to have enough other guys, because in a three-game series like that they can put Patrick Johnson in the bullpen, he's got swing and miss stuff, and they've got (Collin) Bates and I guess (Nate) Striz is back—he's had some success for them. In a super regional, if you can find five or six guys you're going to be fine.
"They're a pretty solid defensive team. Graepel's good—nothing flashy but makes all the plays. Michael's really athletic at second base, Ackley plays an athletic first as a 6.5 runner. There is no glaring weakness with them from a defensive standpoint. Seager makes all the plays, and my favorite thing about him is there's no flash to him, it's just blue collar. He just plays, plays well and does everything he needs to do on field.
"I just think with the experience they have, and their core of premier players, I thought they weren't head and shoulders the best team we played this year, but they were the best team."