What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (2/17)
After 7.5 long months, Opening Weekend has arrived. While there aren’t many games between ranked teams—or even NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, it’s still an exciting weekend of college baseball around the country.
The College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, presents the highest concentration of talent this weekend, as No. 6 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 14 Texas Christian, No. 15 Oklahoma State, Texas and Missouri meet at Globe Life Field for an SEC-Big 12 showdown. The tournament has become an Opening Weekend highlight since its inception in 2021 and this year is no different.
If you’re looking for a college baseball fill this weekend, you could do worse than just putting on the tournament on FloSports. There are good matchups throughout the weekend, and the juiciest might be Arkansas vs. Texas on Friday night. While the Longhorns enter the season unranked, it is the weekend’s only meeting of College World Series teams from last year and a traditional rivalry to boot. A look at the Razorbacks’ new-look lineup against Texas lefthander Lucas Gordon should be a good one.
For those looking beyond Arlington this weekend, here are five more games to watch. All times noted below are Eastern.
Gonzaga at No. 23 Texas Tech (Friday, 2 p.m. on ESPN+)
Start with an early Friday matinee between two consistent regional teams. Gonzaga has won the West Coast Conference in back-to-back seasons and annually plays one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in the country. That starts this weekend with four games in Lubbock. Both the Zags and the Red Raiders have some big shoes to fill this season after they each had four players drafted in the top 10 rounds, including first-rounders Gabriel Hughes (Gonzaga) and Jace Jung (Texas Tech). There’s still plenty of talent to go around the two rosters, however. Watch for Gonzaga third baseman Cade McGee, the WCC freshman of the year, and Texas Tech catcher Hudson White, the Big 12 freshman of the year.
Liberty at No. 21 Southern Mississippi (Friday, 4 p.m. on ESPN+)
The Flames and Golden Eagles meet for a showdown between conference favorites, as Liberty was picked to win the ASUN and Southern Miss was tabbed in the Sun Belt. Liberty has made three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, the longest streak in program history. Southern Miss has made the last six NCAA Tournaments and is coming off a super regional appearance. Aside from the quality of the two programs, Friday’s opener offers an outstanding pitching matchup between Southern Miss righthander Tanner Hall and Liberty lefthander Garrett Horn. Hall, an All-American, went 9-3, 2.81 with 146 strikeouts and 14 walks in 109 innings last season as a sophomore. Horn was picked as the ASUN preseason pitcher of the year after going 6-1, 1.93 with 80 strikeouts in 51.1 innings last season as a freshman.
Rutgers at Campbell (Friday, 5 p.m. on ESPN+)
Rutgers last season was a surprise exclusion from the NCAA Tournament after winning 44 games and finishing as runner-up in both the Big Ten standings and the conference tournament. Still, the program has made significant strides under fourth-year coach Steve Owens and is ready to break through for its first regionals appearance since 2007. Campbell, meanwhile, has become the powerhouse of the Big South Conference, winning four-straight conference titles. Expect a sizable scouting contingent at Jim Perry Stadium for Friday’s opener, which will feature a matchup between Campbell ace Cade Kuehler and Rutgers outfielder Ryan Lasko, both of whom are Preseason All-American. Both are projected to be drafted in the top two rounds, with Kuehler ranking No. 27 and Lasko coming in at No. 56 on the latest draft rankings.
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No. 13 Virginia Tech at College of Charleston (Saturday, 2 p.m. on FloSports)
Charleston last season won the Colonial Athletic Association title but faltered in the conference tournament, falling short of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014. The Cougars are aiming to take the next step this season, however, and enter the year as the CAA favorites. They get a tough early test with Virginia Tech, last year’s ACC champion, coming to town. Charleston last year ranked 20th nationally in ERA (4.12) and again has a strong pitching staff, anchored by All-American closer William Privette. Virginia Tech makes for a tough matchup, as the Hokies last season ranked 10th nationally in scoring (8.7 runs per game) and are led by outfielder Jack Hurley, a Preseason All-American, and third baseman Carson DeMartini, who last year was a Freshman All-American.
No. 2 Tennessee vs. Grand Canyon in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saturday, 8 p.m. on MLB Network)
MLB’s Desert Invitational delivers a premium Opening Day pitching matchup as Tennessee and All-American Chase Dollander take on Arizona and TJ Nichols, who is also a top-100 draft prospect. But the following day provides another standout showdown against Grand Canyon and Preseason All-American shortstop Jacob Wilson. He won’t be facing off against Dollander, but will instead take on Chase Burns, the Volunteers’ other Preseason All-American righthander. While those headliners will capture much of the attention, keep an eye on GCU outfielders Elijah Buries and Homer Bush Jr., and Tennessee outfielder Jared Dickey.
Three draft prospects to watch
Nebraska-Omaha third baseman Mike Boeve will get his toughest test of the season when the Mavericks visit No. 12 UCLA. Boeve ranks No. 108 in the class and stands out for his bat-to-ball skills. Scouts will be eager to see how he handles UCLA’s impressive pitching staff.
Southern California this weekend could be a popular destination for scouts, as they can catch another intriguing matchup 20 miles away in Malibu. Boston College and outfielder Travis Honeyman, a Preseason All-American, visit Pepperdine, which is led by shortstop John Peck. Honeyman ranks No. 48 in the class and has exciting all-around tools, while Peck (No. 166) stands out for his athleticism.