Charlottesville Super Regional Preview, Schedule & Anonymous Coach Scouting Reports


Image credit: Kaelen Culpepper (Ken Murphy/Four Seam Images)

The Charlottesville Super Regional pits Virginia against Kansas State. The Cavaliers (44-15) swept through their regional and are now aiming for their third College World Series appearance in four years. They’re an experienced team with the best lineup in the country, averaging 9.5 runs per game, but it was their pitching that stood out last weekend as they held Mississippi State and Penn to a total of eight runs.

While Virginia has a wealth of postseason experience, K-State (35-24) made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and is making just its second super regionals appearance in program history. The Wildcats came through a tough regional draw in Fayetteville, first beating Conference USA champion Louisiana Tech and then upsetting host Arkansas and Hagen Smith, the Razorbacks’ All-American ace. Now, they head to Virginia.

As a fun subplot to the weekend, K-State coach Pete Hughes previously was the coach of Virginia Tech from 2007-13. During that time, he and Virginia coach Brian O’Connor would have become quite familiar with each other’s game, so there shouldn’t be many surprises between the two teams this weekend.

Here’s a look at the series schedule:

  • Friday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
  • Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Sunday, TBD (if necessary)

Kansas State

Coach: Pete Hughes
Postseason history: Second super regional (first since 2013). Seeking first trip to the College World Series.
Postseason route: No. 3 seed in Fayetteville. Went 3-0, defeating Southeast Missouri State in regional final.

Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Wildcats)

“The first thing that comes to mind with them is toughness. That comes from Pete Hughes. Pete is tough, he coaches his players like that and he’s competitive. Playing them is almost like a street fight.

“Their lineup is super lefthanded, so that’s positive. They can matchup with a righthanded power guy, especially a righthanded power guy without a changeup. They can do some matchup stuff, which is good. A lot of the offense is built around Kaelen Culpepper. He’s their version of JJ Wetherholt. But it’s super complementary at the top of the order. Brady Day, Culpepper, Brendan Jones, they’ve got some pieces 1-5 that can cause havoc. If they get on base, it has a chance to be a two- or three-run inning if their opponent does not get the leadoff guy out.

“Some teams run to run. I don’t think they do that. There’s a rhythm and a madness to when and why they’re doing it. They run in good counts. Their deal is to keep the pressure on and that’s another avenue for it. If they’re not hitting that day, they can turn a single or a walk into a double or a triple and that’s a weapon they have. You’re seeing that more in the league. Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State. You’e seeing all the athletes they have and they’re running.

“They have a little more funk on the mound, some different looks which ties up guys. Owen Boerema, he’s lefthanded, he has deception, he has pitches to punch you out with. Two of their three starters have strikeout stuff. When you can do that and punch people out, that’s a huge deal.

“We’ve all been around great bullpen guys and closers. Tyson Neighbors‘ numbers may not line up to what they were a year ago but he’s as competitive a guy as there is. He wants to win, he has strikeout stuff. Wherever the game’s at they’re going to run him in there, whether that’s the sixth, the eighth, the ninth. One thing you have to watch is in a three-game weekend, if he comes in in the sixth on Friday, he’s probably not available on Saturday if you go long with him. That’s what I would watch, that’s a key for me in the series.

“The defense, I think its ok. One thing to watch is the turf team going into a natural surface. That’s something I always pay attention to. Sometimes you teach groundballs a little different on turf. You get used to that and then the natural surface is something you can’t get used to every day. I think they’re solid but it’s something to watch. The outfield can run down balls with anyone in the country.”

On K-State’s lack of postseason experience relative to Virginia. “Anything is a factor if you let it be. I go back to my original statement about Pete Hughes and his teams, it’s a street fight. That’s the thing with a street fight, you don’t care about where it is, who it is, it’s just beating the opponent. They don’t know winning it and they don’t know losing it. It’s all brand new. They don’t understand the consequences one way or the other where some other teams will think about it. That can work to a disadvantage. I don’t think one way, or another K-State knows. They’re just going to go out and play.”

Projected Lineup

C: Raphael Pelletier
1B: David Bishop
2B: Brady Day
3B: Jaden Parson
SS: Kaelen Culpepper
LF: Chuck Ingram
CF: Brendan Jones
RF: Nick English
DH: Daniel Rivera
SP: Owen Boerema
SP: Jackson Wentworth
SP: Ty Ruhl
RP: Tyson Neighbors
RP: Blake Dean


Coach: Brian O’Connor
Postseason history: Ninth super regional (second straight). Seeking seventh trip to the College World Series and second straight.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Charlottesville. Went 3-0, defeating Mississippi State in regional final.

Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Cavaliers)

“When people ask me the best team we saw this year, I think a lot of times people think about starpower or the best players. You think of Wake Forest, you think of North Carolina, maybe Florida State. But as a coach, sitting around trying to beat somebody, in my perspective you go back to most complete team, the team with the fewest holes, where are you going to get them? That’s where Virginia separated from the rest of the league for me. I just don’t know where you get them. Guys grind it out, they have multiple looks out of the bullpen, Brian doesn’t let you beat up anyone out of the ‘pen. They defend well, shortstop Griff O’Ferrall is a superstar, they run, they don’t chase at the plate. I don’t know where you get them. That’s why they’re dangerous.

“The best way to describe their lineup is its draining. Where do you go, where do you create the outs? A lot of teams, you get through the middle of the order and there’s a breather. I don’t know where it is at Virginia. It’s a deep, dynamic lineup.

“If you don’t pay attention, they’re going to get you [on the bases]. If you pay attention, you can quiet the running game. [Kansas State coach Pete Hughes] is very conscious about the running game, so therefore he controls it well, too. Virginia is the same way. I don’t think running will be a huge factor because they both try to do it, but they control it well, too. I think K-State and Virginia, the way they think about the running game will neutralize each other.

“They have a ton of matchups, a ton of different looks out of the bullpen. They have multiple lefties in the ‘pen, which a lot of us don’t have that option. Evan Blanco is a grinder, he’s got good pitchability, he’s a competitor. Every time they needed a lefty in the ‘pen there’s another one down there that they trust. That could be an advantage for Virginia because they have those lefties that they trust, and K-State has a lot of lefthanded hitters. Every once in a while, I thought they’d run out of lefties, but it never happened.

“They’re solid defensively. They defend well, they defend the bunt game well. Typically, you can bunt on lefties, but you can’t run on them, and you can run on righties, but you can’t bunt on them. But their lefties defended the bunt well. [Catcher Jacob] Ference isn’t bad but maybe that’s where they’re a touch down. But he’s still good. I think O’Ferrall is better than Culpepper. O’Ferrall has better angles, he’s just a better defender.

“I don’t think Virginia being at home is much of a factor because you look at what Pete did with the road schedule, they went all over the country. The experience for Virginia is a factor. But, again, if you know Pete, you know he doesn’t care. I just think those kids feel that same thing.”

Projected Lineup

C: Jacob Ference
1B: Henry Ford
2B: Henry Godbout
3B: Eric Becker
SS: Griff O’Ferrall
LF: Harrison Didawick
CF: Bobby Whalen
RF: Casey Saucke
DH: Ethan Anderson
SP: Evan Blanco
SP: Joe Savino
SP: Jay Woolfolk
RP: Matt Augustin
RP: Chase Hungate

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