2022 NCAA Tournament Louisville Regional Preview
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Southeastern Missouri State (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Michigan (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No. 1 Louisville (38-18-1)
Season in a sentence: After missing the NCAA Tournament a year ago, Louisville came storming back in 2022 to win the ACC Atlantic Division and once again host a regional.
Best pitcher: Jared Poland, RHP. Poland came to Louisville as a two-way player and saw time as an infielder in addition to pitching. He’s become a full-time pitcher over the last two seasons and this year established himself as the Cardinals ace. He’s 5-4, 2.92 with 91 strikeouts in 74 innings this spring.
Best hitter: Dalton Rushing, C/1B. Rushing had a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League, and he’s carried that into the spring for the Cardinals. He’s hitting .310/.473/.701 with 21 home runs and anchors the middle of the lineup. His power and consistently hard contact make him a dangerous hitter.
Outlook: Louisville is a tough out at home, where it is 29-6 this season. The Cardinals have won six straight home regionals, dating to 2010. So, the competition is in for a tough weekend. The Louisville offense is among the best in the country, averaging 8.7 runs per game, and it'll need it to lead the way. The Cardinals pitching staff doesn’t run as deep this year as it has at times in the past, but their frontline arms and bats should be more than enough to see them through.
No. 2 Oregon (35-23)
Season in a sentence: Oregon overcame some key injuries on the mound to win 35 games and make the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Best pitcher: Kolby Somers, LHP. A fifth-year senior, Somers has been a fixture at the back of the Oregon bullpen in recent years. He ranks second all-time in saves for the Ducks, having closed 21 games in his career. This season, he is 5-3, 2.90 with nine saves and 43 strikeouts in 31 innings. He’s not just a one-inning reliever and if the Ducks are to advance, he’ll pitch some high-leverage innings.
Best hitter: Anthony Hall, OF. Hall came on strong late last season and he’s carried that momentum into his third season at Eugene. He’s hitting .321/.396/.623 with 14 home runs and has been the Ducks’ most dangerous hitter. A lefthanded hitter, he has a powerful bat.
Outlook: Oregon lost Opening Day starter Adam Maier to injury in the third week of the season and had to deal with some other injuries on the mound throughout the year. The Ducks were able to overcome those injuries, piecing it together on the mound and using a strong offense to keep piling up wins. The strategy will be the same this weekend, looking to build from the back on the mound and lean on a strong offense, averaging 7.29 runs per game. The challenge for the Ducks is that the whole field in Louisville is using a similar game plan, which means no one will be afraid of getting into a slugfest.
No. 3 Michigan (32-26)
Season in a sentence: Michigan was up and down throughout the spring but put together a run to win the Big Ten Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.
Best pitcher: Cameron Weston, RHP. This Michigan team is not built on its pitching staff, and it has just three pitchers with ERAs under 5.00 (no innings minimum). But Weston (4-3, 4.72, 4 SV) has been a reliable arm for the Wolverines. He’s second on the team in innings pitched (74.1) and can work either out of the bullpen or as a starter. He last week made three appearances at the Big Ten Tournament and held opponents to one run on five hits in seven innings, while striking out 11 batters.
Best hitter: Clark Elliott, OF. Elliott last summer broke out in the Cape Cod League and won the batting title. He’s kept hitting this spring for the Wolverines and is batting .344/.466/.626 with 14 home runs and 19 stolen bases. He can impact the game in a variety of ways and makes up a dynamic duo in the lineup with fellow outfielder Joe Stewart.
Outlook: Michigan has gotten hot down the stretch. It’s won seven of its last nine games, including a series win against Rutgers two weeks ago and the Big Ten Tournament last week. Now, it’s a matter of sustaining that success this week. The Wolverines lost a series at Louisville in March, but they did get a blowout win in game 2. If they do face the Cardinals, they’ll be able to draw on that for confidence. Michigan’s offense shouldn’t have trouble keeping up with Louisville and Oregon, but its pitching staff has a 6.81 team ERA. If the Wolverines are to advance, they’re going to need a couple pitchers to step up in a big way this weekend.
2023 Pac-12 Conference College Baseball Preview
The Pac-12 should be highly competitive once again, with multiple teams having the talent to make a run to the College World Series.
No. 4 Southeast Missouri State (37-20)
All-Conference Honorees: OF Brett Graber (second), C Andrew Keck (second), RP Kyle Miller (second), SP Jason Rackers (second), SS Tyler Wilber (first)
Season in a sentence: The Redhawks made waves with an Opening Weekend upset of Dallas Baptist and never really slowed down on their way to a second straight Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title.
Best pitcher: Kyle Miller, RHP. Miller has been excellent out of the Redhawks bullpen this season, going 8-4, 2.91 with six saves. He has 46 strikeouts in 43.1 innings this season and often works multiple innings in an outing, meaning he’ll see significant high-leverage action this weekend.
Best hitter: Andrew Keck, C. Keck, a fourth-year junior, has been a regular since arriving at SEMO in 2019. This year, however, he’s taken his game to another level offensively. He is hitting .330/.404/.651 with 17 home runs and 11 stolen bases this spring, showing he can impact the game in several ways.
Outlook: SEMO went 0-2 in its last two NCAA Tournament appearances. To avoid a similar fate this year, it will need its pitching staff to take a step forward. With such an offensive field in Louisville, finding a few arms who can shut down the powerful offenses it'll be facing is critical. The Redhawks can swing it themselves—they average 7.33 runs per game—but keeping pace in a slugfest won’t be easy.