Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the new rankings and the weekend in college baseball at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Moderator: Aaron will be along in a second; he’s been
working the phones. Look for his latest Three Strikes to be updated
momentarily on the BA College Blog and don’t forget to check out the BA
College Podcast (free as always) at the BA press room here
(http:www.baseballamerica.comtodaymediapodcasts#college). Thanks for
your patience.

 Q:  Josh from North Carolina asks:
you see any of the teams in the Southern Conference jumping into the
rankings any time soon? I know Elon and the College of Charleston high
in the rankings last year and neither have lost a series in awhile, and
are putting up rediculous numbers. Where do you see these teams panning
out and someday joining the ranks?

Aaron Fitt:
Hi everyone, sorry for the delay. CofC is in that big cluster of teams
right outside the top 25 — it’s amazing how many teams can make a real
solid case for inclusion in the rankings this week. Long Beach State,
Stetson, Charlotte, TCU, Minnesota, Louisiana Tech and
Louisiana-Lafayette are all teams that I thought seriously about
ranking this week. I like CofC’s team a lot, they just don’t have the
strength of schedule that some of these other teams have.

 Q:  Born2Shock from Wichita asks:
What are your thoughts on Wichita State, and their chances of being a national seed? Love the chats!

Aaron Fitt:
I think the Shockers are one of the most balanced teams in the country,
with a versatile lineup that can beat you with power or speed, an
excellent weekend rotation and a very strong bullpen. And they play
good defense. Really fun team, and I think they’ve got a real shot at a
national seed; I don’t think it will be possible for the three ACC
teams and three SEC teams ahead of them in the rankings to all sustain
this kind of success to the end. These teams are going to start beating
each other up a little bit.

 Q:  mitch from mission viejo, ca asks:
thanks for taking this question, and keep up the great work! i know you
are never supposed to look past an opponent, but after this weekend,
the big usdpepperdine series takes place in san diego. what are your
thoughts on the series and how the two teams match up? how do you see
the two finishing up? i’ll put you on the spot as well, who wins the

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t want to go into too much detail about this series, which
figures to occupy a prominent role in Weekend Preview in two weeks. But
right now, I’d have to give the edge to the Toreros, not only because
they’re at home but because they’ve gotten more consistent production
out of their starting pitching. Brett Hunter has struggled lately for
Pepperdine, and that worries me. Josh Romanski for San Diego might be
the most unheralded star player in the nation, and Matt Couch has been
a very steady Sunday starter for USD.

 Q:  Matt from Michigan asks:
Michigan embarassing Ohio State this weekend by a combined score of
41-14 in 4 games, does Ohio State still have NCAA hopes? Is Michigan
going to get their normal #3 seed or do they have a shot at a #2 seed
this year?

Aaron Fitt:
That was a serious statement weekend for the Wolverines, no doubt about
it. I’m not completely burying Ohio State, but that was a poor showing,
and the Buckeyes really have their work cut out for them if they want
to make a regional now. That’s going to be even harder with ace Dan
DeLucia done for the year. If I were projecting the NCAA field right
now, I’d call Michigan a 2 seed and give the other Big Ten berth to
Minnesota, as a 3.

 Q:  Daniel from Indian Trail, NC asks:
isn’t UNC Charlotte listed in the top 25? They put together a valiant
effort on the road last week against North Carolina, and lost in the
final at bat. Granted UNC wasn’t starting their weekenders, yet neither
was Charlotte. After sweeping another A-10 team this weekend, they have
handled their buisness, and are winning the games they are supposed to.

Aaron Fitt:
Actually, the Tar Heels did start Luke Putkonen, usually their Sunday
starter, who had missed the previous weekend with an illness. And
Charlotte did not start a weekend guy — making that game all the more
impressive from the 49ers point of view. Charlotte is in that group on
the cusp of the rankings.

 Q:  Ryan from LA, CA asks:
UCLA has looked great, winning 11 of 13. What do you see out of them
for the rest of the season? How high a seed can they get in the
tournament and do you think they have a shot at the Pac 10 title? Can
they be a surprise team in the tournament and make a run to Omaha or am
I dreaming?

Aaron Fitt:
It’s clearly a dangerous team now that Curtis is back (see Three
Strikes for more on this, and the Bruins in general). I do think UCLA
is capable of making a run in the postseason, but there are a couple of
mitigating factors: whether freshman righty Charles Brewer is able to
come back strong from his mono and fill that Saturday starter spot, and
whether closer Brant Rustich can harness his dynamite stuff and become
more consistent at the back of the bullpen. If Brewer comes back and
holds down a weekend spot, it allows UCLA to move Tim Murphy to the
pen, which alleviates some of the pressure on Rustich.

 Q:  Alex from Wichita asks:
about Danny Jackson’s performance this weekend? He has been the hot DH
as of late and will probably resume that position when Schimmerhorn
returns, but do you think that his playing well will put Stephenson at
ease (at least a little) and not rush Schimmerhorn back into the line
up to prevent chance of re-injury? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt:
Short answer: yes. Jackson’s play was very encouraging this weekend,
and I think it allows the Shockers to ease Schermerhorn back in.

 Q:  Joseph from Fairhope, AL asks:
dropping their series to LSU this weekend, what do you think the
chances are that Oxford could be upset city this weekend? Do you think
Ole Miss can pull out the series win over South Carolina?

Aaron Fitt:
Very much within the realm of possibility. I would expect Lance Lynn to
throw better this week than he did Saturday. Kline vs. Honeycutt looks
like it might be the marquee mound matchup this weekend, while we’re
looking at potential weekend preview topics. I also think it might be
time for Satterwhite to replace Bittle as closer, even as good as
Bittle has been this year. Satterwhite has been very good, and he’s got
the power stuff.

 Q:  Josh from Lincoln, NE asks:
How do you see this weekend’s Texas vs. Nebraska series going? How close is Nebraska to entering the Top 25 again?

Aaron Fitt:
The Huskers are hot right now, no doubt about it. Back-to-back series
wins over Oklahoma State and Oklahoma were just what Nebraska needed to
get back into the Big 12 race. Even as well as Texas is playing right
now, I don’t think I’d want to make the trip to Lincoln this weekend.
My feeling is if the Huskers wins this series, which they certainly
could, they’re very likely to force their way into the rankings.

 Q:  Kris from Tallahassee asks:
How does FSU not advance into first after both the top two teams ahead of them lost a game?

Aaron Fitt:
Vandy and UNC lost a game but both still won their series and had 3-1
weeks overall. Beating Virginia Tech at home is not enough to leap over
two teams that won their series.

Aaron Fitt: Speaking of
Virginia Tech, I think I speak for everyone here at BA when I say that
our thoughts are with everyone in Blacksburg right now.

 Q:  Jonathan from Germantown, TN asks:
With Clemson’s rocky start do you think they have a shot for hosting a super regional?

Aaron Fitt:
Absolutely. The Tigers are still 10-5 in conference and have a chance
to really put their stamp on the ACC with a home series against
Virginia this weekend. I think moving Moskos to the rotation was a
brilliant move.

 Q:  John from Boston, MA asks:
about the young Northeastern Huskies sweep of Winthrop on the road? Can
they shock the CAA again by finishing well above projections?

Aaron Fitt:
That’s an awfully nice, unexpected winning streak for Northeastern
right now, including road sweeps over James Madison and Winthrop. This
isn’t a typical speed-and-defense Northeastern team, as Neil McPhee
usually builds up in that spacious ballpark. This team has some pop,
led by catcher Dan Milano (six homers, 18-game hitting streak that is
tied for the best in school history), Mike Lyon (7 homers) and Frank
Pesanello (7 homers).

 Q:  Howard from Greensboro asks:
prediction on the Florida State-UNC series this coming weekend? I feel
the weak non conference schedule and predominant “home game” schedule
that UNC has had thus far in 2007 will lead to a sweep by FSU and some
glaring weaknesses in the UNC lineup.

Aaron Fitt:
Well, I don’t think there are any weaknesses in that UNC lineup. But I
also know that Tallahassee has not been friendly to the Tar Heels at
all over the years; you’ve got to give Florida State the edge thanks to
its home-field advantage. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if UNC
goes in there and takes that series — I give the Heels the edge on the
mound. Should be a very, very interesting series.

 Q:  David from Arlington, TX asks:
is now 27-9 on the season and 10-1 in the MWC. They have also not lost
a weekend series all season. What does TCU have to do over the
remainder of the season to guarantee themselves a NCAA regional bid,
even if they do lose the MWC tournament?

Aaron Fitt:
Just keep on winning. TCU’s schedule includes three home midweek games
against Big 12 teams that will help its RPI. Then there’s a very big
series at home against San Diego State in two weeks — the Frogs can
all but wrap up the MWC (and a regional big, in my mind) if they win
that one. See Three Strikes on the College Blog for more on TCU.

 Q:  Chris from Rock Hill S.C. asks:
would like to get your opinon about the South Carolina pitching staff.
The big names in this years in coming class were Fuller, Dyson, Costner
and Jay Brown. Fuller has been kicked off the team, Dyson had season
ending surgery before the season started, Costner has been out 3 weeks
now with a sore arm and it’s looking like Brown will miss the rest of
the season with Arm issues too. Add to that, Ciso is chaseing
butterflys while he tries to find his ” good arm groove” and has been
removed from the rotation. Their only real hope is that Honeycut stays
in that “ace” role and that Hempy, Cooper, Atwood and some others can
step up and fill and perform. Thanks !!

Aaron Fitt:
I am a little worried about that South Carolina pitching staff right
now, but Honeycutt will be fine (that was his first bad outing of the
year, really) and Hempy’s performance Saturday was very encouraging.
Between Cooper, Atwood and Cisco, the Gamecocks should be able to find
a reliable third starter even if Brown doesn’t come back. They’ll need
to get those roles settled pretty soon, though.

 Q:  JP from Sooner Nation asks:
How much of a hit has OU taken by losing 3 out of 4 Big 12 series to open conference? Can they still host a regional?

Aaron Fitt: I wouldn’t count on it. There are now six teams ahead of the Sooners in the Big 12 standings — lot of ground to make up.

 Q:  Justin from Monterey, CA asks:
come on now. 5-0, with two wins over #13 Pepperdine, on the week for
the Dirtbags and they don’t get back into the top 25??? I know you’re
going to say they were in the duscussion, but they should be there over
NC State, Ole Miss and Michigan. I would even consider them jumping
Tulane and Costal Carolina. What’s the deal?

Aaron Fitt:
Not only were they in the discussion — the final discussion was
between LBSU and NCSU, and we were divided on who to bring in. Listen
to the podcast for more on the decision process; it’s tough to overlook
Beach’s 12-10 record vs. top 25, but their 5-4 record in weekend series
hurts them. I know how tough the schedule is, but they were just 3-4 on
weekends before taking series against Oral Roberts and Cal State
Northridge, probably the two weakest teams on their schedule to date.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
for the chat, enjoy it. Two questions for you. First, what do you make
of the situation at Texas A&M, referring to Childress letting go
half of his team, with players making huge contributions at perennial
powers across the nation, like Jess Buenger at Rice, Corgan at TCU,
Vazquez and Vazquez at USC and Fullerton? Finally, what do you think of
Buenger? He’s swinging a hot bat, does this kid have potential? Its
good to see a fellow high school alum, and friend, having success.

Aaron Fitt:
It’s funny, it seems like half the teams in the Top 25 have some
transfer from A&M making an impact for them. I will say this:
Childress and his staff have done nothing against the rules — they
played within the system that existed. But that’s the kind of thing
that keeps Dave Keilitz up at nights. Many of the proposed APR-related
changes are aimed at eliminating the kind of player movement we saw at
A&M this year.

 Q:  Mike from Tempe, AZ asks:
realize Texas is higher up in the rankings due to their pre-season
ranking. However, how are they rated so high right now? You have teams
like U of A and ASU who have been red hot that aren’t even in the top
10. What is the rationale with Texas every year having more losses than
the rest of the teams that are ranked right around them?

Aaron Fitt:
Texas is 31-10. Rice, Arkansas, Arizona State all have as many losses
as Texas. I really don’t think we’re propping up an undeserving team

 Q:  Matt from Wayne, NE asks:
just can’t help, but to notice all of the huge matchups this weekend:
UNC at FSU, UVA at Clemson, UT at NU, and the SEC matchups and those
are just the weekend series. What is the most intriguing matchup that
you see on the calendar this week?

Aaron Fitt:
You’re right, it’s an absolutely great weekend of games. I’m most
intrigued by UNC-FSU, but there are a couple of real interesting
under-the-radar type series: Louisiana Tech at Hawaii in a series with
major WAC impliciations, and Lousiana-Lafayette getting a chance to
prove itself at Arizona State.

 Q:  Austin from TX asks:
Texas obviously being the team to beat this year, how far do you expect
them to go in the tournament, and how many Big XII teams do you think
will make the dance?

Aaron Fitt:
I think Texas has a real good shot to make an Omaha run. As for the Big
12, I’ll go out on a limb and say six bids: Texas, Oklahoma State,
Texas A&M, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

 Q:  Michael from Washington, DC asks:
How is the CAA shaping up as they reach the halfway point? QAre there any suprises?

Aaron Fitt:
Northeastern is certainly a surprise; I thought the Huskies would be
down after losing Ottavino, Pellegrini, Morizio and Emanuele. I thought
Delaware would be better than 13-16, 7-7. Ditto UNC Wilmington at
16-22, 8-9. Old Dominion is clearly the team to beat in that
conference; I’m not shocked the Monarchs are as good as they are, but
it’s a mild surprise. We did project them for fourth in the league
going into the year.

 Q:  Mike from Irvine asks:
do you see UC Irvine closer Blair Erickson going in this year’s draft?
His velocity has declined significantly since his freshman and sohomore
seasons. Also, are there any other ‘Eaters you see going in the draft?

Aaron Fitt:
I bet Erickson ends up around the 10th round again. Bryan Peterson
hasn’t had a great year, but in a weak crop of outfielders, Peterson’s
solid tools could carry him ahead of Erickson.

 Q:  Jim from San Francisco asks:
– Thoughts from you on the weekend in the Big West – Cal Poly winning 2
of 3 from UC Irvine, Washington sweeping UC Riverside…does the
conference race change a bit in your eyes, or do you still see
Fullerton, UCI, UCR, and Long Beach being the teams left standing at
the end?

Aaron Fitt:
I think this will have to wrap it up for today. That Big West is tough
to peg; you’ve definitely got to take Cal Poly seriously after the big
series win over Irvine. That’s a good, young club, and Larry Lee’s done
a great job getting the most out of those guys. But I’m still not sold
on the Mustangs as a regional team; they still have to face Riverside
and Fullerton at home and travel to Long Beach. The Anteaters, on the
other hand, have most of their big tests out of the way, though they
didn’t do themselves any favors by dropping this series against Poly.
For now, let’s go back to the Big West default position and label
Fullerton as the favorite until further notice. I think UCI, UCR and
LBSU will all be major factors down the stretch, and I wouldn’t rule
out the possibility of all four receiving regional bids. Riverside has
the most work to do in conference — they’ve only played three Big West
games, and I don’t think the nonconference record will do the
Highlanders any favors, especially after been swept this weekend at

Aaron Fitt: Thanks for coming by today. See you next week.