Knoxville Super Regional Preview, Schedule & Anonymous Coach Scouting Reports


Image credit: Christian Moore (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Knoxville Super Regional pits Tennessee against Evansville. The Volunteers (53-11) are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and have been the top-ranked team in the country throughout the second half of the season. While Tennessee was once one of the longer-suffering college baseball fan bases, the Vols are now in their fourth straight super regional and have won the SEC in two of the last three seasons. They are heavy favorites this weekend.

Evansville (38-24), meanwhile, is this year’s Cinderella. The Purple Aces last weekend upset East Carolina to become the ninth No. 4 seed to win a regional in the 64-team era of the NCAA Tournament (since 1999). They are hot, having won nine of their last 10 games, including sweeping through the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. But a trip this weekend to Tennessee is a considerable test.

Here’s a look at the series schedule:

  • Friday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Saturday, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • Sunday, 6 p.m. (ESPNU, if necessary)


Coach: Wes Carroll
Postseason history: First super regional and seeking first trip to the College World Series.
Postseason route: No. 4 seed in Greenville. Went 3-1, defeating East Carolina in regional final.

Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Purple Aces)

“It’s an extremely old lineup that does not flinch. If you put up a four-, five-, six-, seven-spot on them, for some reason they do not flinch. Usually in college baseball you put up a big inning, you see some pouty or panic, but not with them. They’re great at scoring and they do a good job at giving up just enough on the mound.

“The way they play, watch their dugout, everything about them is very much emotionally driven. When they are hot, they are as hot as can be. I imagine when they went through their cold spell, they were as cold as can be. They are extremely momentum based and right now they have the good mojo.

“Mark Shallenberger was probably the best hitter in the league and being lefthanded makes it more difficult. The only success I saw was running lefthanders at him. The best bet is to go around him and hope to get Kip Fougerousse out. If you have a righty who can get Fougerousse out, that’s the way to play it.

“They have three lefthanded starters. If you can’t hit a lefty, you’re going to have a hard time. The freshman [Kenton Deverman] pitches as poised and as confident as anybody. He went in on a Friday in a regional and pitched eight innings. The key to them is getting to the middle bullpen guys. If you can get their starters out, it’s a little easier to get to until late in the game. Their middle relievers can be had. But the three lefties do their best to keep you away from that area of the bullpen.

“Defensively they all play hard. Ty Rumsey can track down baseballs in center field. Shortstop Simon Scherry has been there four years, he makes their identity defensively, he has tremendous passion and pluck. He’s their key on the defensive side. They take their identity off him.

“With this old of a team, they actually thrive on some rowdiness. They are a rowdy team themselves. The crowd might actually work for them. Evansville will play into that. I’m interested to see—Evansville is very offensive. Knoxville is ideal for them with the short porch. It’s exactly where they need to be playing. I’m curious to see what Tennessee’s velocity does to their swings. Their swings are tailored to their park and the wind you get in the Missouri Valley Conference. What does that look like against their velocity?

“[Indiana State ace Jared] Spencer might be the biggest arm in our league in terms of velocity. He’s up to 97 mph but it’s a lot of 93. In our conference on Friday night, you’ve seen 91-92 and they’re going to see 97 and north of that this weekend. That’s where it’s going to be different. If you look at some of those swings, it’s very uphill and that’s where the velocity possibly dominates them.

If Evansville upset Tennessee, what would that look like? “It’s going to be their offense carrying them. Tennessee would have not been able to get above some of those barrels and its ballpark can sometimes be offensive itself. Evansville gets the momentum going and you’ve seen it before where some of these SEC schools have never lost and all of a sudden you get some heat on them from a mid-major that thinks they can beat the ‘27 Yankees. That momentum and confidence is what would propel Evansville if they’re able to do it.”

Projected Lineup

C: Brendan Hord
1B: Chase Hug
2B: Cal McGinnis
3B: Brent Widder
SS: Simon Scherry
LF: Mark Shallenberger
CF: Ty Rumsey
RF: Harrison Taubert
DH: Kip Fougerousse
SP: Kenton Deverman
SP: Donovan Schultz
SP: Kevin Reed
RP: Max Hansmann
RP: Shane Harris


Coach: Tony Vitello
Postseason history: Sixth super regional (fourth straight). Seeking sixth trip to the College World Series and second straight.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Knoxville. Went 3-0, defeating Southern Miss in regional final.

Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Volunteers)

“Obviously, it’s a dangerous lineup. I don’t know the home and away splits but they’re more dangerous at home than they are away. It’s a hitter-friendly park and with the bats that they have, those guys definitely took advantage of us. They rely on the long ball to some degree, and you’ve seen them in the past where they’ve run and done some different things offensively, but these guys sit back and look to create big innings by hitting. If they get to you early, it’s a long day.

“You can get in on Christian Moore but you have to get in off [the plate]. Hook him a little bit but if you make any mistake over the plate, he’s not going to miss. If you get in a two-strike situation you have to execute. If you don’t, he’ll burn you every time. He’s just really dangerous. He has some chase in there and you have to execute to get him to chase. This matchup on Friday with their lefty [Evansville ace Kenton Deverman], with how he pitches at the top of the zone, that’s going to be interesting to see how effective he’ll be against those guys. When you know 87 mph is coming, what hitter is laying off of that?

“They do some stuff with openers because they don’t have three true starters. But when he brings AJ Causey in, that’s a wrap. So, whatever anybody can give them and then they go to Causey, he’ll shut it down. Drew Beam has been up and down, he’s a warrior, a veteran. Causey knows who he is. He pitches effectively well with it. Zander Sechrist does his job. Kirby Connell comes in at the back end and spins the breaking ball. He’s got his quirks but he gets out of situations. The moment is never too big for him. They have the right pieces to be effective.

“If you knock them off plan, you have a chance to be successful. If [the staff doesn’t push the right buttons], you can get to them a little bit. Then they have some dudes that aren’t as proven in the bullpen.

“I think they’re solid defensively. When you got Ariel Antigua sitting on the bench not playing with as good as he is, that’s pretty good. They don’t wow you; they just make good plays. A couple years ago, they were uber athletic all over the field and were taking hits away. They’re not that this year. But they’re making good plays.

“I don’t know if [the crowd] was as much of a factor as at Arkansas or some other places. They’re into it, but they’re more nasty than intimidating. It’s a homefield advantage, but the home team feeds off of it more than the other team gets intimidated by it.

“I think [their postseason experience is] huge because they’ve been knocking on that door. Is this the most talented team [Vitello has] had? I don’t know if that’s the case but they’re the most baseball savvy team he’s had. They play the game, they play it the right way and they know who they are and they play aggressively in their style.”

Projected Lineup

C: Cal Stark
1B: Blake Burke
2B: Christian Moore
3B: Billy Amick
SS: Dean Curley
LF: Dylan Dreiling
CF: Hunter Ensley
RF: Kavares Tears
DH: Reese Chapman
SP: Chris Stamos
SP: Drew Beam
SP: Zander Sechrist
RP: AJ Causey
RP: Kirby Connell

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