For eight teams, the season all comes down to these next two weeks. Throughout the last few days, we’ve brought you previews of what to to expect from the side of the bracket containing Oregon State. Now, we drop some knowledge on the four teams on the other side, one of whom would play Oregon’s State in the championship series should they get that far.
Whoever that ends up being, it will be one of four immensely talented ball clubs.
Best Starting Pitcher: Brady Singer (2.30 ERA) , Best Fielder: Nick Horvath (145 putouts, .993 fielding percentage), Best Hitter: Jonathan India (.354 Batting Average)
JL: These guys are the defending champions for a reason. That entire pitching staff is really talented. Brady Singer, especially. Then you have guys like Jonathan India on offense who seem like they can send one over the fences at any given moment. The Gators are once again the real deal.
JS: Florida has been ranked #1 in the country for a long time, and with good reason. However, the Gators have looked extremely mortal in the last month. They had an early exit in the SEC tournament, and dropped games against FAU and Auburn during Regionals and Super Regionals. They’re still the favorite to make it out of this side of the bracket, but an upset wouldn’t be the most shocking thing.
MR: Florida could be a problem on the other side of the bracket. Brady Singer is the big name on the pitching staff, but look out for Jackson Kowar. He had a dominate showing against Auburn in the Super Regional. Florida relies on good pitching and defense; elements that make for championship runs.
Best Starting Pitcher: Ryan Shetter (3.03 ERA), Best Fielder: Braxton Fulford (.986 Fielding Percentage), Best Hitter: Josh Jung (.390 Batting Average)
JL: The Red Raiders clawed their way out of that super regional against Duke and have let the bats rip throughout the NCAA tournament. The #9 team in the country, Tech had eleven draft picks in this year’s MLB draft which was the most in their program’s history. Tech may have their best team in program history here on their third trip to Omaha.
JS: Make sure to catch at least one Texas Tech game this year; this team is amazingly fun to watch. The bats just don’t stop. I don’t think the team has the starting pitching to make a championship run this year, especially since one of their better pitchers, Steven Gingery, is injured.
MR: Texas Tech is back in the CWS for the third time in five years. They struggled towards the end of the season, but turned it on in the postseason. They’re a great team on offense and have enough motivation to make some noise.
Best Starting Pitcher: Blaine Knight (2.84 ERA), Best Fielder: Grant Koch (455 putouts), Best Hitter: Casey Martin (.344 Batting Average)
JL: The winners of the Fayetteville super regional, the Razorbacks made some quiet noise (if that’s even a thing?) through most of this year. It’s tough to stand out in the SEC, let alone when the national champs are in that league too. But Arkansas tore through the regional round and stood their ground against a good South Carolina team to get here. Offense seems to be their primary strength, so expect them to put a lot of guys on base.
JS: This is another team with a lot of offense that seems like it could struggle if it’s starting pitching gets pushed. Blaine Knight is fantastic, but their options after that are erratic. I think as long as Knight’s in the lineup though, they’ll do some damage on their side of the bracket.
MR: Arkansas is another one of those SEC teams that looks very dangerous. They’ve been tested against tough competition and are dangerous at the plate. Blaine Knight and Kacey Murphy are fantastic pitchers. I’d put Arkansas and Florida as 1A and 1B to make it to the CWS Finals.
Best Starting Pitcher: Blair Henley (3.32 ERA), Best Fielder: Jake McKenzie (391 putouts), Best Hitter: Kody Clemens (.356 Batting Average)
Joe Londergan: Two words: Kody Clemens. Much of the conversation in Texas’ games is going to be centered around this guy and it’s not just because he’s the son of Roger Clemens. He’s hit five home runs in this tournament and gone 11 for 22 at the plate. Don’t take your eyes off of this Golden Spikes Award finalist.
John Severs: This is the team I most want to meet in the finals. Not because I think they’re a particularly good matchup for the Beavers, but because it would be an amazing series. Kody Clemens is such a fun player to watch. While the team doesn’t quite have the resources to fully back him up, but his ability to just take over games is amazing.
Marcus Russell: Texas is a very good baseball team. They get on-base and can hit the ball all around the ballpark. Their starting pitching with an ERA hovering over 4, gives me pause though. Clemens is a monster of course and I’m glad to see Texas on the other side of the bracket.