Nashville Super Regional Preview
Coach: Tim Corbin
Postseason history: Eighth super regional appearance (second straight). Seeking fourth trip to Omaha and first since 2015.
Postseason route: No. 2 seed in Clemson Regional. Went 3-0, defeating No. 1 Clemson 19-8 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Commodores)
“The big difference was we’re watching video and scouting and we’re seeing a totally different team than what we played because for a while (Connor) Kaiser and (J.J.) Bleday were both out (earlier). Maybe I was overemphasizing the fact they weren’t there and then were there, but to me those two guys made the whole thing go. Kaiser is incredible defensively but has finally come around with the bat, obviously. And then Bleday was a game changer. He was kind of the one guy in the lineup – even though several guys did damage to us at different times – he was the one guy that you’re kind of worried about and looking to see when he’s coming back around.
“To me, they have maybe not the wealth of arms that they’ve had in particular years when they’ve been dominant. But nonetheless, (they) still have their usual wealth of arms where if a guy doesn’t get it done they can go to somebody else without sweating it. And also, there’s enough of them that they’ll have somebody to get it done.
“This is to no fault of theirs, I think with the makeup of their pitching staff they have a bunch of good arms. I’m sure in the fall they thought several guys could start. But there isn’t a whole lot of matchup coming out of there and there is not that guy that’s definitely the setup man or definitely the closer. If you roll the dice enough times, certain numbers are going to come up. If you’re just rolling guys out there, there’s a really good chance for an opposing team to catch a guy on an off day and get to them. I don’t think it’s lack of talent. It’s just for whatever reason they don’t have a guy that has the makeup of a lefty matchup guy or a closer or a setup guy or anything like that.
“I think (their super regional experience) matters a ton. It motivates you because if you’re not the team that wins in the final game…it’s got to drive you a little bit. I think it makes you a little more focused, a little more determined on top of what everyone knows in sports anyway – experience helps. You’ve been there, you’ve done that, you’re not going to get overwhelmed. To me, the experience that they have has a two- or threefold effect to make them a little better.”
College Baseball Week Five Standouts: Brandon Sproat Deals, Hunter Owen Stymies Ole Miss
It was another exciting weekend in college baseball, headlined by the start of SEC and Big 12 conference play. Here were some of the top performers in Week 5.
Coach: Gary Henderson
Postseason history: Eighth super regional appearance (third straight). Seeking 10th trip to Omaha and first since 2013.
Postseason route: No. 2 seed in Tallahassee Regional. Went 4-1, defeating Oklahoma 8-1 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Bulldogs)
“That’s just the magic, man. It’s a huge compliment to Gary and those kids. Them being alive right now is a huge testament to intangibles and what can happen when you have good pieces. Everyone would love to run Konnor Pilkington and Ethan Small out Friday and Saturday. They’ve got some freshmen that are good players that got off to bad starts like freshmen do and now are playing really well. And they’ve got enough supporting pieces around them.
“They’re not a super explosive offense if you look at their home run and stolen base numbers. Jake Mangum definitely sets the table for them. He’s certainly a sparkplug that pressures you with footspeed. He’s a really good player, a really good hitter. He really pressures you when he hits the ball on the ground.
“I think a guy that has stepped up is J.P. France. He’s been a big difference maker for them. You get an older guy, get a grad transfer guy. This time of year, you go back to experience and he’s pitched in different parts of the game for them and done well in all of them.
“There’s nothing that sticks out at you. You don’t see a Brent Rooker, you don’t see huge power, huge run. Pilkington is very talented, but he’s got a 4.6 ERA. It’s just you’ve got a team that’s got some really strong intangible things going on.
“We played three competitive games with them. I’ve been in the league for 15 years now and you see plenty of teams that finish in the middle of the standings and get hot and make a run. I never discount any SEC team. If you make the NCAA Tournament from our league, you’ve got the talent. It bounced their way. They’re good and they’re hot and it bounced their way.
“I can’t verbalize how much respect I have for that group of coaches not only to just hold it together but to thrive. Your job as a coach in the short term is to get everything you can out of your group. Not only did they bring the group together, but you can say they overachieved. I really respect Gary and Jake (Gautreau) and Mike Brown.”