Baseball America will break down all 16 regionals, including Starkville, hosted by Mississippi State. Michael Lananna has the details.
|STAT PACK (National rank in parentheses)
|Avg.||Scoring (R/G)||HR||SB||ERA||K/9||WHIP||Fielding %age|
|1. Mississippi State||.312 (15)||6.6 (51)||42 (75)||50 (163)||3.42 (29)||9.0 (12)||1.30 (41)||.974 (50)|
|2. Cal State Fullerton||.266 (182)||4.9 (201)||25 (192)||62 (100)||2.21 (1)||8.5 (25)||1.03 (1)||.977 (21)|
|3. Louisiana Tech||.293 (56)||6.7 (43)||47 (47)||89 (23)||3.86 (70)||8.1 (49)||1.33 (60)||.973 (62)|
|4. Southeast Missouri State||.310 (17)||8.0 (8)||59 (24)||74 (55)||3.86 (69)||9.3 (7)||1.35 (71)||.964 (204)|
32nd appearance (last in 2014), automatic qualifier, first place in SEC West
Top 300 Prospects: RHP Dakota Hudson (14), OF/RHP Reid Humphreys (199), LHP Daniel Brown (285)
Season in a Sentence: The Bulldogs went from last place in the SEC a year ago to first place in a drastic turnaround, blazing a path through the conference and winning the SEC regular season title for the first time since 1989.
Player to Watch: Dakota Hudson, rhp: After being primarily a reliever in his college career, Hudson moved to the front of the rotation with great results, posting a 9-4, 2.35 season with 107 strikeouts in 103 innings. One of the top college arms available in the upcoming draft, Hudson is a tough assignment for whoever faces him.
Best Weekend: The Bulldogs established their SEC dominance fairly early in the conference season, winning series against both Vanderbilt and rival Mississippi. But it’s best weekend came April 8-10 at then-No. 1 Florida, as the Bulldogs bounced back from a series-opening loss, dug dig, and won the final two games.
Outlook: The Bulldogs lost just one series all season—to No. 1 Texas A&M. Otherwise, they’ve done little wrong this season and seem primed to make a deep run into the postseason. This regional has its challenges, however, as Cal State Fullerton has one of the best pitching staffs in the country, Louisiana Tech is No. 31 in RPI as a No. 3 seed, and Southeast Missouri State has a lefthanded ace with otherworldly numbers.
2. Cal State Fullerton
38th appearance (25th straight), automatic qualifier, first place in Big West
Top 300 Prospects: RHP Chad Hockin (99), SS Timmy Richards (281)
Season in a Sentence: The Titans did what they’ve done for the last 25 years—find a way to make the postseason—turning it on the second half of the season to win the Big West.
Player to Watch: Timmy Richards, ss: The Titans are going to pitch, and they’re going to field. That’s what they’re known for. But if they’re going to win this regional, they’ll need to find a way to score runs, too. Richards, with his .284/.360/.481 line and nine home runs will likely be at the center of any scoring efforts.
Best Weekend: To seal the deal on the Big West , the Titans needed to go to Long Beach State and get the job done. They did, taking two of three from the second-place Dirtbags to squash any hopes of a last-ditch comeback.
Outlook: The Titans have the best team ERA in the country, a deep pitching staff, a strong fielding club and solid veteran presence in the lineup—veterans who went to Omaha a year ago. The Titans have as good a chance as any to win this regional, although, certainly, it won’t be easy to take down Mississippi State in its home ballpark.
3. Louisiana Tech (40-18, 19-11 in Conference USA)
Eighth appearance (first since 1987), at-large, fifth place in Conference USA
Top 300 Prospects: None.
Season in a Sentence: In what was a strong year at the top of Conference USA, the Bulldogs might have flown under the radar a bit, but they were in the race until the end and made a deep push into the Conference USA tournament.
Player to Watch: Chase Lunceford, 3b: A junior transfer, Lunceford joined LA Tech and provided immediate pop, hitting .325/.400/.581 with 11 home runs in the middle of the Bulldogs batting order.
Best Weekend: The Bulldogs had a very difficult end-of-season slate with Southern Miss followed by Rice. Though they dropped the Southern Miss series, they finished the season with a flourish, sweeping Rice—and scoring in double digits twice—in an impressive, RPI-building regular season finale.
Outlook: The Bulldogs went 15-3 to end the regular season and fell just short of the Conference USA championship game. At No. 31, they have a better RPI than several No. 2 seeds. They’ve got a fighting chance. With that said, the have a more formidable Bulldogs team with which to contend.
4. Southeast Missouri State (38-19, 22-8 in Ohio Valley)
Third appearance (first since 2002), automatic qualifier, first in Ohio Valley
Top 300 Prospects: LHP Joey Lucchesi (229)
Season in a Sentence: The Redhawks went 5-7 in the last 12 games of the season but managed to hold onto first place in the Ohio Valley, and they regrouped in the tournament to win the conference’s automatic bid.
Player to Watch: Joey Lucchesi, lhp: The tall senior lefthander had one of the best statistical years of any player in the country, going 10-4, 1.87 with 145 strikeouts in 106 innings. He had six double-digit strikeout games this season, including a 17-strikeout performance against Murray State on April 28.
Best Weekend: The Redhawks traveled to Jacksonville State April 22-24 and took two of three games, winning an important Ohio Valley conference series and creating some leverage in the standings. The teams would later meet in the conference championship.
Outlook: The Redhawks have a pair of legitimate power bats in Chris Osborne (.373/.459/.766, 15 home runs) and Garett Gandolfo (.368/.464/.602, nine home runs) and an ace in Lucchesi—they’ll need all three to shine to have a chance. They’ve got a tough regional draw with two of the better No.2-3 seeds in the field.