2022 NCAA Tournament College Station Regional Preview
No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 4 Oral Roberts (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No. 2 Texas Christian vs. No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No. 1 Texas A&M (37-18)
Season in a sentence: First-year coach Jim Schlossnagle remade the roster in the offseason through the transfer portal and the new-look Aggies overcame a slow start to go from last place in the SEC West Division in 2021 to first place this spring.
Best pitcher: Jacob Palisch, LHP. Palisch, a transfer from Stanford, has become the Aggies’ most trusted reliever. He leads the team in appearances (24) and is 4-3, 2.93 with 54 strikeouts and eight walks in 46 innings. Palisch can close games (he has four saves), but he’s more of a fireman, coming on in the most high-leverage situations and often working multiple innings.
Best hitter: Dylan Rock, OF. Rock, a transfer from Texas-San Antonio, has been a huge addition for the Aggies. He’s hitting .326/.474/.668 and leads the team in both home runs (17) and stolen bases (16). He’s a patient hitter who has walked more often than he’s struck out and brings plenty of experience to the lineup.
Outlook: A&M has a well-rounded team that can win in a variety of ways. The roster has come together over the course of the spring and, despite there being so many transfers and A&M missing regionals last season, it still has a lot of postseason experience. The Aggies didn’t get an easy draw, but for a team that won eight SEC series and is 22-9 at home, it'll feel confident going into the weekend.
No. 2 Texas Christian (36-20)
Season in a sentence: TCU was up and down throughout the season but had some big moments in Big 12 play and won an outright conference title for the first time since 2015.
Best pitcher: Riley Cornelio, RHP. Cornelio has been the constant on the mound this season for the Horned Frogs. He leads the team in innings pitched (69.1) and has stepped up as a Friday starter. He’s 4-4, 4.41 with 74 strikeouts this spring.
Best hitter: Tommy Sacco, SS. Sacco put together a banner season as a fifth-year senior. He’s hitting .350/.441/.626 with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases, all while anchoring the defense at shortstop. He leads the Horned Frogs in both batting and home runs.
Outlook: At its best, TCU can beat anyone. It went 5-1 against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, two weekends that helped it win the Big 12. But TCU also struggled in non-conference action and went just 6-10 in non-conference games against teams with winning records. So, which version of the Horned Frogs will show up this weekend? If they’re going to push A&M and advance to super regionals for the first time since 2017, they’ll need their pitching to rise to the occasion.
No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette (36-21)
All-Conference honorees: C Julian Brock (first), 1B Carson Roccaforte (first)
Season in a sentence: The Ragin’ Cajuns rallied in the ninth inning of the Sun Belt Tournament championship game to upset Georgia Southern, win the tournament and advance to regionals for the first time since 2016.
Best pitcher: Jacob Schultz, RHP. Schultz mostly pitched out of the bullpen in his first three seasons at Louisiana, but this year has become the Cajuns’ workhorse. He leads the team in innings pitched (77.2) and is 4-3, 3.94 with 72 strikeouts. Last week in the Sun Belt Tournament, Schultz struck out 12 batters in a complete game win against Texas State.
Best hitter: Carson Roccaforte, 1B. Roccaforte had a breakout sophomore year and is hitting .379/.440/.694 with 16 home runs and 23 stolen bases. The lefthanded hitter has a consistent swing and he walked about as much as he struck out. He mostly played first base this spring but also saw time at all three outfield positions.
Outlook: The Cajuns play an aggressive style of baseball under coach Matt Deggs, who will be making a return to College Station, where he was an assistant coach for five years. They put a lot of pressure on opponents through their baserunning and their approach at the plate, which makes them a difficult matchup. They have a deep group on the mound, and they’ll look to use their numbers to their advantage, by exploiting matchups. Aside from a sweep at the hands of Texas State in mid-May, Louisiana has been playing very well for the last two months. It will be a tough matchup for A&M and TCU.
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No. 4 Oral Roberts (38-18)
All-Conference honorees: RP/OF AJ Archambo (first), 3B Holden Breeze (second), SP Isaac Coffey (first), OF Joshua Cox (first), OF Caleb Denny (first), RP Cade Denton (second), SS Jackson Loftin (first), 1B Jake McMurray (first), SP Ledgend Smith (first)
Season in a sentence: Oral Roberts swept through the Summit League Tournament, outscoring its opponents, 42-14, to advance to regionals for the first time since 2018.
Best pitcher: Ledgend Smith, LHP. Smith, a transfer from Oklahoma, settled into the Golden Eagles’ rotation perfectly. He went 7-4, 2.41 and has 92 strikeouts and 20 walks in 78.1 innings. Along with righthander Isaac Coffey, he forms a strong 1-2 punch for ORU.
Best hitter: Jackson Loftin, SS. Loftin, a transfer from Sam Houston State, made an immediate impact this spring for ORU. He’s hitting .348/.447/.580 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases. He’s the team’s leading hitter and one of its biggest power threats. He’s done that all while anchoring the infield defense at shortstop.
Outlook: Oral Roberts is strong and deep on the mound and its pitching staff could make things difficult for the other teams in College Station. Smith and Coffey give the Golden Eagles a strong 1-2 punch in their rotation and righthander Cade Denton (4-0, 0.44, 6 SV) is a weapon out of the bullpen. They’ll be contending with some powerful offenses, but if the Golden Eagles can stick to their top arms, they have a chance to spring an upset or two.