2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Oklahoma City Regional Preview
No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Harvard (7 p.m. ET)
No. 2 UConn vs. No. 3 Nebraska (1 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 1 Oklahoma State (36-18)
Season In A Sentence: The Cowboys were one of the hottest teams in college baseball during May, which they capped off with a Big 12 Tournament title that clinched the program’s seventh consecutive trip to the postseason.
Best Pitcher: RHP Jensen Elliott, Jr. — Elliott was a key piece of Oklahoma State’s 2016 CWS team but has been banged up the last two seasons. Now fully healthy, he’s this year taken over as the Cowboys ace and is 9-3, 3.59 on the season.
Best Hitter: INF Andrew Navigato, Jr. — This would be a toss-up between Navigato and Carson McCusker if it weren’t for McCusker missing nine games this year. Navigato is currently hitting .303 for Oklahoma State with 12 home runs. Trevor Boone’s 19 home runs are more impressive, but the junior has been less consistent this season, letting his average drop down to .242 in early April.
Outlook: Playing well at the right time, the Cowboys received a pretty favorable draw this weekend. Ace Jensen Elliott is a key for the Cowboys on the mound, and he’s been locked in over the last month. They have a deep lineup that can strike quickly and have shown they can hang with the best, winning a series at Oregon State and last weekend winning the Big 12 Tournament. It’s hard to see anyone slowing their momentum this weekend in Oklahoma City.
No. 2 Connecticut (36-23)
Season In A Sentence: New England’s preeminent college baseball program continues its run of success with its sixth regional appearance since 2010 after a 36-23 season that helped the Huskies to a top-30 RPI.
Best Pitcher: LHP Mason Feole, Jr. — Feole has been solid for UConn since returning from an injury that sidelined him at the start of the year. Closer Jacob Wallace has also had a stellar season with 15 saves and 0.73 ERA.
Best Hitter: INF Michael Woodworth, Sr. — Among the Connecticut players who have started 50 or more games this season, Woodworth is the leader in almost every offensive category. He leads in batting average (.319), at-bats (226), runs (54), hits (72) and home runs (5).
Outlook: Connecticut has high upside—it showed that opening weekend with a series win against Louisville—but too often this year the Huskies have been inconsistent. They need lefthander Mason Feole to be at his best this weekend, and they need to stay out of the losers’ bracket. Last week’s American Athletic Conference championship game drubbing at the hands of Cincinnati showed that this pitching staff may not have the depth to matchup with the best.
No. 3 Nebraska (31-22)
BA 500 Prospects: None
Season In A Sentence: The Huskers rival Oklahoma State for the title of hottest team in college baseball as the season winds down, having won series against Arizona State and Michigan to end the regular season and then advanced to the Big Ten Tournament title game en route to earning the fourth regional appearance of the Darin Erstad era.
Best Pitcher: RHP Matt Waldron, Sr. — Waldron gets the edge over Nate Fisher here because of his incredible 11.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Waldron is 6-4, 3.11 through 13 starts and 92.2 innings pitched.
Best Hitter: OF Aaron Palensky, So. — Palensky is the only Husker hitting above .300 and leads the team in home runs at six. The sophomore has been a huge part of the Nebraska offense, notching 40 runs and 31 RBIs.
Outlook: The Huskers are just 1-6 in regional games under Darin Erstad and have lost five straight games in the NCAA Tournament. To turn that around this weekend they’ll need their pitching staff to show up in a big way in Oklahoma City. Starters Nate Fisher and Matt Waldron and closer Colby Gomes are all solid, and the Huskers, who average 5.83 runs per game, will need them at their best.
No. 4 Harvard (27-14)
Season In A Sentence: The Crimson are in a regional for the first time since 2005 after going 27-14 and sweeping Columbia in two games in the Ivy League Championship.
Best Pitcher: RHP Hunter Bigge, So. — Bigge has been the best starter on the Harvard pitching staff this season, leading the group at 67 strikeouts. At 7-1, 4.72 in 68.2 innings pitched, Bigge has made the transition to full-time starter well.
Best Hitter: 1B Patrick McColl, Sr. — The senior has been a leader for the Harvard offense, and is leading the team in hitting at .399. McColl also leads the team in homers with 12 and is second in runs batted in with 47.
Outlook: The Crimson established themselves as the best team in the Ivy League this season and have a star in senior first baseman Patrick McColl. This is a big step up for Harvard, which played just one game against a top-100 opponent. But having broken the longest NCAA Tournament drought in program history, the Crimson should be playing loose this weekend.