Jun 11, 2023

5 reasons to watch each of the DI baseball super regionals

(Editor's note: The following previews were first published on Use code Save30 for a discount on an annual subscription.)

DI baseball super regional tournaments run from June 9-11. Below you will find regional previews for each region, from

Just 16 teams remain in the hunt for the 2023 DI baseball title as the super regionals commence today. Teams who win in a best-of-three series move onto the MCWS.

D1baseball breaks down five reasons you should watch each of the eight super regional matchups:

1. The box will be rocking.

Though some other SEC ballparks have surpassed venerable Alex Box Stadium in terms of bells and whistles, there's still no place like it in terms of gameday atmosphere when the Tigers play there in the postseason. That certainly won't be any different this time around when you consider the expectations around this particular squad and that it will be the last time LSU fans get to cheer for program legend Dylan Crews and ace Paul Skenes at home.

2. Can Kentucky flip the script?

These two teams played a series in Baton Rouge in mid-April. After the Tigers blew out the Wildcats in game one of the series, the next two games were airtight contests that were decided late in the game, with UK winning game two 13-10 and LSU taking the rubber game 7-6. Kentucky was clearly up to the task but couldn't quite bring home the series win. Will this time be different?

3. Paul Skenes strikeout watch.

Paul Skenes is tracking LSU great Ben McDonald for the SEC single-season strikeout record. After regionals, Skenes sits at 179 strikeouts, 23 shy of McDonald's record of 202 in 1989. If LSU gets Omaha, Skenes seems extremely likely to at least match McDonald. How many strikeouts will the righthander collect this weekend against Kentucky, and will the Tigers get it done to give Skenes a chance to make history in the CWS?

4. How does Kentucky set up its pitching?

Kentucky is one of the most interesting teams left in the postseason in terms of pitcher usage. Its staff is based on depth rather than having one or two standout arms, and as a result, it has a versatile group that can be deployed in any number of ways. The team doesn't really have a true Friday starter, though freshman Travis Smith has most recently held that role, Zack Lee has come on strong to solidify himself as perhaps UK's most trustworthy starter right now, Austin Strickland has done the same to earn himself a regular spot on the weekend, and the duo of Mason Moore and Darren Williams are both relievers in name only because they can throw starter's innings at any time. It's a good problem for the Wildcats to have that many viable options, but how Kentucky decides to set up its pitching is an intriguing storyline for this super regional.

5. What does LSU get on the mound after Skenes?

This has really been the question of the year for LSU, if not for the entire SEC this season. In Skenes, the Tigers have the best pitcher in the country, but what they get after he leaves the mound, both in the rest of the rotation and in the bullpen, has varied wildly from week to week. At times, Ty Floyd and Thatcher Hurd, to name two, have looked like quality rotation mates for Skenes, but other times, not so much. The same can be said for any number of relievers LSU has leaned on this season. If LSU pitching can keep Kentucky batters off the bases, in turn keeping the Wildcats from being able to execute its action-oriented offense, LSU will be nearly impossible to beat. But if its pitchers after Skenes can't do that effectively, this series could be as close as the one played during the regular season.

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1. Virginia's elite position player group.

There might not be a more exciting lineup in college baseball, when you factor in offensive versatility and athletic defense. The Cavaliers lead the nation in batting and in doubles per game, a reflection of their old-school UVa offensive approach — this program has been building fearsome lineups around athletes who drive the spacious gaps at Davenport Field for as long as Brian O’Connor has been in charge, and this is a vintage version of that model, led by ACC Player of the Year Kyle Teel, five-tool center fielder Ethan O’Donnell, and hit machine shortstop Griff O’Ferrall. And the Cavaliers also have serious thunder courtesy of corner boppers Jake Gelof and Ethan Anderson, who join Teel and O’Donnell in the double-digit homer club. The offense is truly elite, and the defense isn't far behind, led by the exceptional up-the-middle trio of Teel, O’Ferrall and O’Donnell.

2. To see how college baseball's version of the Tampa Bay Rays operates.

As this tweet from Friday Starters points out, the average length of a Duke pitcher's start this year was just above 3 innings — 300th in the nation. After ace Jonathan Santucci went down with an injury seven weeks into the season, Duke went all-in on an "openers" strategy, headed by Division III transfer Alex Gow — a three-pitch bulldog who started twice in the regional, turning in four shutout innings in the clincher against Coastal Carolina. The mix-and-match strategy is interesting and effective, but Duke's roster construction is also fascinating, as the Blue Devils supplemented their core veterans with a blend of very talented freshmen, a couple power-five D-I transfers like leading hitter Jay Beshears (Northwestern) and scrappy grad transfer Gio DiGiacomo (LSU), a key Ivy League transfer in the bullpen (Charlie Beilenson), plus three crucial non-Division I transfers in Gow, Metz and pitcher Jason White. "I don't want to sound like we’re the Rays, but we’re searching for those guys with kind of outlier stuff in the margins that are flying just below the radar," Duke coach Chris Pollard said Monday. "In all of those cases, you saw something in TruMedia and Synergy and TrackMan, like that metric right there will play at this level, if the competitive fight is there with it, right? It's hard-pressed to think you’d ever hit on this many small school guys."

3. Bullpen battle: Jay Woolfolk or Fran Oschell?

Virginia built its rotation around three D-I transfers with plenty of experience and solid but not spectacular stuff: Nick Parker (Coastal Carolina), Connelly Early (Army) and Brian Edgington (Elon). That's been a very effective group, but the most exciting stuff on the staff is at the back end, where football/baseball talent Jay Woolfolk works as a closer with a live fastball and a very good slider. The bullpen has been Duke's biggest strength all year, and even with freshman lefty James Tallon hitting a little bit of a wall at the end of the year after dominating for the first 13 or 14 weeks, Oschell has emerged as another electrifying back-end closer, with a mid-90s fastball that plays above its velocity and improving secondary stuff. These talented sophomores are worth the price of admission.

4. Stars up the middle.

As mentioned above, Teel, O’Ferrall and O’Donnell are big-time stars at key up the middle positions for Virginia, and they are very fun to watch defend. Teel put up huge offensive numbers but also has improved dramatically behind the plate, making him a likely top-five overall pick next month. O’Donnell, a Northwestern transfer like Duke's Beshears, can do it all — run, defend, hit for both average and power. And O’Ferrall is hitting .390 as the catalyst that makes the lineup go, while also serving as the field general. But Duke has its own star power up the middle with shortstop Alex Mooney (one of the highest-ranked preps to attend school last year, and a likely Day One pick as a draft-eligible sophomore this year), catcher Alex Stone (who is tied with Metz for the team lead with 17 homers), and Beshears (who leads the team in batting at .332 and OPS at 1.029). As our anonymous coach suggests in our breakdowns below, these are two special up-the-middle groups.

5. Can Duke bust down the door?

Virginia is seeking its sixth trip to Omaha since 2009, and its second since 2021. This program is a postseason mainstay with Omaha pedigree, and it has re-emerged as a national power over the last three years following a couple of uncharacteristically down campaigns in the wake of the 2015 national title. Duke is still trying to become a blue blood of Virginia's caliber, but Pollard has elevated the program dramatically since taking over in 2013. He led Duke to its first regional in 55 years in 2016, and how he has taken the program to three super regionals in the last five completed seasons. That's a remarkable rise, but the next step for Duke is to break through to Omaha for the first time since 1961. The Blue Devils are two wins away, but they face another daunting challenge this weekend on the road against an elite opponent. Of course, these Blue Devils have already shown they can win two out of three in Charlottesville — they did it in late April. If they can do it again, the next stop is Omaha.

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1. History will be made in Eugene this weekend

One of the great things about the college baseball postseason is that fresh names often arrive on the big stage. That is certainly the case this weekend with Oral Roberts, which has not reached the College World Series since the 1970s. What's even crazier is that Oregon hasn't reached the CWS since 1954. What does that mean? No matter who wins this super regional, fans in Omaha will get to see a new face that hasn't been in the tournament in quite a long time. That's kind of cool if you ask me.

2. Rikuu Nishida is worth watching for Oregon

When it comes to cool players in college baseball, few have a more intriguing story than Nishida. To put it the way the coach in our scouting report did: ‘he's the man!’. Nishida has such an interesting background. The Japan native stands at just 5-foot-6, 155 pounds, yet he's one of the more electric players in the game. He's hitting .322 with 16 doubles, five homers and 37 RBIs, while also having a .400 OBP to go with 25 stolen bases. And as icing on the cake, Nishida actually hits with a wood — not aluminum — bat.

3. Cade Denton might be the best closer in college baseball

The ORU righthanded pitcher already had good numbers this season, but the college baseball world in places other than Oklahoma were introduced to this premier closer in a big way at the Stillwater Regional last weekend. For starters, Denton has good measurables at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, and enters super regional action with a 1.65 ERA in 31 appearances, along with 15 saves, 75 strikeouts and just nine walks in 54.2 innings of work. His stuff is electric — the fastball is up to 96-97 mph, and the filthy slider serves as the perfect complementary piece. If ORU can turn the game over to Denton with a lead, it's usually game over for opposing teams.

4. Contain ORU's Jonah Cox, you contain the offense

The good news for Oregon is that if you can contain Jonah Cox, you have a good chance to slow down that ORU offense. The bad news? Very seldom has Cox been slowed down this season. The electric ORU outfielder is not only a premier defender, but his offensive prowess is noted. He leads the Golden Eagles by a mile from a batting average standpoint with a .424 average to go with 16 doubles, 8 triples, 10 homers and 65 RBIs. He also is 27 for 30 in stolen bases. He can hit with power, he can bunt, and he's a terror on the basepaths. It will be hugely important for the Ducks to keep him from getting that offense going this weekend.

5. Oregon's offense will be a huge key

The Ducks have admittedly gotten better on the mound over the past few weeks in the absence of Jace Stoffal, but the offense has been a consistent force for Mark Wasikowski's club. The Ducks boast one of the nation's deepest and premier offensive lineups, and the ringleaders are Drew Cowley, Colby Shade and Sabin Ceballos. Ceballos has particularly been outstanding the past few weeks and enters the Super Regional round hitting .330 with 16 homers and 65 RBIs. Shade is hitting .336 with six homers and 31 RBIs and Cowley is the leading hitter with 16 homers and 67 RBIs to go with a .342 average and a 1.064 OPS, which is the highest on the team. It would not be shocking to me to see this Super Regional turn into a mini track meet.

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1. The TCU show of Tre Richardson and Brayden Taylor goes on

Richardson is proof positive of just how much the transfer portal can help a team. Richardson left Baylor after Steve Rodriguez was fired last summer and has been a terrific pickup for the Frogs in more ways than one. He's a solid defender at second base, and he brings a ton of energy to the diamond. Furthermore, he entered the Fayetteville Regional with just a couple of home runs, but now has six — his headliner game in regional play a three home run, 11 RBI performance against the Razorbacks. He's sizzling hot …. Speaking of that sizzling, how about Taylor? Taylor checks every single box in the tools department and he's on quite the tear after having a midseason lull at the plate. Taylor had a great showing at the Big 12 tournament and in regional action and is now hitting .321 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs, along with a 1.111 OPS. Richardson and Taylor alone are a great reason to keep an eye on this Super Regional.

2. Don't turn the television if Indiana State is down late

The Sycamores have experience and they’re an older team that doesn't panic when they’re down late in the games. Proof? Just look back at last weekend's Terre Haute Regional. In the opening game against Wright State, the Sycs were down 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth before rallying for three runs, capped off by a two-run single from Grant Magill. A night later, the Sycamores scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Iowa, 7-4. Clearly, Indiana State is the type of team that you will have to lead by enough runs that they can't make a late comeback. Give them breathing room, though? They’ve shown they can battle back from a deficit. Keep that remote control handy.

3. The Indiana State pitching duo of Connor Fenlong and Matt Jachec

As much as the Sycamores have had a penchant for the big hit down the stretch, they also have a solid one-two punch on the mound in Connor Fenlong and Matt Jachec. The two pitchers have contrasting styles with Fenlong, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder, being a supreme pitchability guy. He has racked up 70 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 108 innings of work. Meanwhile, Jachec has some definite intrigue with a 6-foot, 205-pound frame to go with some impressive numbers — 97 strikeouts in 96.1 innings of work to go with just 14 walks. Jachec will sit anywhere from 88-91 mph with his fastball and misses bats to go along with some soft contact. Both Fenlong and Jachec aren't going to beat themselves this weekend.

4. Keep an eye on TCU outfielder Elijah Nunez

As exciting as guys like Richardson and Taylor are to watch for TCU, Nunez is one of my personal favorites for good reason. He's the heart and soul of this team from a personality standpoint, and also happens to be quite a consistent producer at the plate. Nunez does a terrific job of working counts, walking 34 times this season, while also being a consistent base-stealing threat, as evidenced by his 19 stolen bases so far this season. The Frogs seem to really gravitate around Nunez's personality during games. When he gets going, the rest of the team typically follows suit.

5. The potential of Indiana State getting to Omaha

There's a decent chance of having some very fresh faces at the College World Series next week. Oregon and Oral Roberts give us one guaranteed Omaha team we haven't seen in a while, while the possibility of Indiana State getting to Omaha is intriguing considering the Sycamores haven't been to the CWS since 1986. In addition to Indiana State's situation, TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos looks to make his first trip to Omaha as the head man. Those two storylines alone are rather intriguing entering what should be a wild weekend in Fort Worth.

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1. Florida's rotation is built for this

Getting pushed to a second regional final game by Texas Tech ensured that Florida had to reach deeper into its bag of tricks on the mound, but the star-studded Florida rotation of Brandon Sproat, Hurston Waldrep and Jac Caglianone is tailor-made for the super regional format, where we know going in that the Gators won't have to start anyone but those three. If they pitch well, they’re going to be extremely difficult to beat.

2. South Carolina is back

After an extended slump late in the year, South Carolina in regionals looked like the South Carolina team that for a period of time made people wonder if it was actually the best team in the SEC. Not only were the Gamecocks not really pushed in games against Central Connecticut State, NC State and Campbell, but they also got positive results on the health front. Will McGillis returned to the lineup after previously re-aggravating the injury that caused him to miss most of SEC play, and Will Sanders got back on the mound and looked strong in a pair of relief appearances. Beating Florida on the road at this stage will be a monumental task with how well UF has played late in the year, but South Carolina looks more ready to pull it off now than it has in weeks.

3. Will revenge be on the menu?

You may recall that South Carolina swept Florida during the regular season, and in fact, that series, played from April 20-22, was the Gamecocks’ final regular-season series win. From there, those two teams went in opposite directions, with Florida vaulting back up to a place among the most serious national title contenders and South Carolina sputtering down the stretch. Will that form hold, with Florida getting revenge with a series win at home, or will South Carolina's improvement in form last weekend continue and allow it to push the Gators?

4. Showdown of high-profile freshmen

South Carolina outfielder Ethan Petry and Florida second baseman Cade Kurland have been two of the most impactful freshmen in the country. Petry is batting .374/.470/.738 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs, while Kurland is batting .303/.414/.583 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 46 RBIs. With the likes of Florida's Wyatt Langford and LSU's Dylan Crews moving on after this season, SEC baseball will be looking for its next class of superstars and it has two of them already established in Petry and Kurland.

5. Wyatt Langford's swan song in Gainesville

With Crews putting up the numbers he's put up, especially earlier in the season when he was batting above .500, and with Langford's teammate Jac Caglianone slamming homers left and right, Langford's performance has gone a bit under the radar nationally, but that's a real shame because he's been excellent. He's batting .387/.511/.799 with 24 doubles, 18 home runs, 48 RBIs and 50 walks compared to just 38 strikeouts. With the draft coming up next month, Langford seems to have elbowed his way into the conversation alongside Crews and his LSU teammate Paul Skenes as the top college prospects on the board.

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1. The Pete gonna be rowdy

For last season's home Super Regional versus Ole Miss, Southern Miss sent the fire marshal down to Biloxi and squeezed in a few extra dozen of black-and-gold-clad fans. Those fans tried really hard, but Ole Miss still won the series. This season, they get another shot. This time the SEC team is Tennessee. Hosting the second Super Regional in as many seasons, the USM fans are practically experts at this whole Packing the Pete process now. The Right Field Roost will be overflowing. Meats will be grilled. Coolers will packed full of ‘social dranks,’ and the atmosphere will be as good as any. And while Tennessee has seen its share of raucous crowds, there's a uniqueness with a packed Pete Taylor Park that can be a burden to deal with as an opponent. However, as a fan of the sport, it's a can't-miss experience.

2. Tennessee's new-found road success

During the SEC season, Tennessee struggled on the road. It was swept at Missouri and at Arkansas. It lost series at both LSU and Georgia. Then, in the final week of the season, after the team had found its stride with home sweeps over Mississippi State and Vanderbilt to salvage its season, the Vols went to Columbia and won a series from South Carolina. That seemed to eradicate some of the road woes, as Tennessee went on the road to the hottest team in the country and snapped Clemson's 17-game winning streak en route to winning the Clemson Regional. That should provide tons of confidence going into Hattiesburg. Any team that can beat Clemson in Clemson can beat anyone in the country.

3. Tennessee Velo and Tanner Hall probability

Tennessee will bring more velocity than the Fast and the Furious series. Starters Andrew Lindsey (3-2, 2.40) and Chase Dollander (6-6, 4.50) will pump high 90s, as will closer Chase Burns (4-3, 1 sv) and top reliever Seth Halvorsen (3-3, 3.72, 2 svs). Third starter Drew Beam (8-4, 4.09) also has outstanding stuff and a Team USA pedigree. On the flip side, Southern Miss ace Tanner Hall (12-3, 2.08) counters with an 88-92 sinker and 81-84 changeup which is his best pitch. It's two different ways to pitch, but equally effective. The Golden Eagles have more than just Hall to lean on. Billy Oldham (8-3, 4.33) and Matt Adams (3-2, 4,95) have been solid starters, while Justin Storm (6-2, 2.61/8 svs) and Kros Sivley (4-1, 4.02) have been so good in the pen.

4. Dustin Dickerson and Christian Moore

Raise your hand if you are a middle infielder that hit four home runs in a regional last weekend. I see two hands stretched upward. I see you, Tennessee second baseman Christian Moore, who slammed a homer in all three games and hit two in one of them for four this weekend. For the season, Moore now has 17 home runs to go with team-best 49 walks and 15 stolen bases. And I see you too, Southern Miss shortstop Dustin Dickerson who slammed four home runs in the Auburn Regional. Dickerson entered the regional with six bombs on the season but decided he best become a power threat to make sure his team advanced. He also leads the Golden Eagles with 20 doubles and is second on the team with 13 stolen bases.

5. Scott Berry's journey

USM head coach had an up close and personal view of Southern Miss's last Super Regional victory in 2009 at Florida. Then long-time head coach Corky Palmer had announced his retirement, and the Golden Eagles won a road regional and then a road super before a trip to Omaha, sending Palmer off in style. Berry has decided this will be his final season as the Southern Miss skipper, passing to torch assistant Christian Ostrander just the way Palmer, who passed away last August, handed it to him. Southern Miss won a road regional last weekend, but instead of a road trip to an SEC power, his club plays for a CWS berth at home. Will history repeat itself, and will Berry follow Palmer one more time to end his season in Omaha?

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1. Historical context

Stanford and Texas played each other during the regular season every year from 1998 to 2019, with a handful of postseason matchups mixed in, and are among the most storied programs in college baseball history. Much of that had to do with two legendary coaches that retired within a year of one another, Texas’ Augie Garrido and Stanford's Mark Marquess. Marquess led Stanford to Omaha 16 times in a 27-year stretch from 1982 to 2008, winning back-to-back CWS championships in 1987 and 1988. Since taking over starting with the 2018 season, David Esquer has guided the Cardinal to Omaha appearances each of the last two years looking to make it three seasons in a row. Texas has six championships in their illustrious history, the most recent of which came in 2005 with Garrido capturing two titles (2002) during his 20-year stead as head coach. Current Longhorns coach David Pierce had guided Texas to Omaha three times (2018, 2021, 2022) since he took over in 2017.

2. Stanford's potent lineup

When you talked about Stanford before Esquer took over the reins of the program you immediately thought of a team ruled by the age-old pitching and defense formula in which the Cardinal would routinely suffocate their opponents to death. Now they flat-out bludgeon them on offense, with a team triple slash of .318/.405/.548. Six regulars have double-digit home runs, led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Alberto Rios’ 18, and Tommy Troy is batting .410 with 169 total bases and 17 stolen bases. It's important to never fall asleep on this team, in a game or in a series, as Stanford has battled back to win the hard way, emerging from the loser's bracket in regional play each of the last four years and they also beat UConn in the super regional round a year ago after losing the first game. Personified by their skipper, this team just does not get rattled easily.

3. Texas two step

If Texas wins the Stanford Super Regional more than likely they will get dominant performances by their two weekend starters, lefthander Lucas Gordon and righthander Lebarron Johnson Jr. Both have incredibly similar numbers, and while both also have good stuff, Johnson's arm really stands out with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a violent, diving splitter. Johnson is coming off his most impressive performance of the year, a complete game effort against regional host Miami that helped propel the Longhorns to the Stanford Super Regional. Keep an eye on third starter Tanner Witt if he makes an appearance who has been brought along slowly since returning from injury in early May as he has the best pure stuff on the Texas staff. Texas’ pitching vs. Stanford's offense will be a classic matchup of team strengths.

4. Closing time

Both teams have productive, or at least effective, bullpens headlined by a lights-out closer. For Texas it's Zane Morehouse, a lean and lanky, 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander that made a pair of appearances in the Coral Gables Regional last weekend striking out nine batters in 4 2/3 innings thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a changeup. Stanford's Ryan Bruno has a similar fastball-changeup repertoire, although doing so as a lefthanded pitcher working into the mid-90s, and he also made a pair of appearances in regional play. Stanford will throw a lot more arms at you than Texas typically does, largely due to the strength of the Longhorns’ starting staff, but we could see Morehouse and Bruno exchanging zeroes late in games.

5. The mighty Quinn

While it's a move that will draw the ire of pitch count fanatics, Quinn Mathews made two crucial appearances in regional play last weekend, first providing seven innings in a regional-opening win against San Jose State and next shoving for four scoreless frames in Stanford's regional-clinching win against Texas A&M. The 6-foot-5, 188-pound lefthanded senior is now in his fourth year with the program with ample postseason experience pitching in a variety of roles. He spent the shortened 2020 season and all of 2021 learning from his de facto-predecessor, Brendan Beck, and likes Beck's role on that ’21 team, you get the sense Mathews is going to play a very direct role in Stanford's success to the very end.

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1. The Wake Show.

No. 1 national seed Wake Forest has been the best team in college baseball by a fairly comfortable margin. The Demon Deacons are the only team that has won all of its weekends while going 50-10 overall and 22-7 in the ACC. The pitching stands out most; despite playing in homer-happy David F. Couch Ballpark, Wake Forest leads the nation with a 2.78 ERA — and the next closest team is Tennessee at 3.60. That's an absurd accomplishment. The Deacs also lead the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (12.1), strikeout-to-walk rate (4.35), WHIP (1.04), hits allowed per nine innings (6.57) and shutouts (10). But the otherworldly pitching prowess (in a historically offensive era) is only part of the story; Wake Forest also ranks fifth in the nation in scoring, third in OBP, ninth in slugging, seventh in homers per game and second in walks. Which is to say, this is also an elite offense. And the defense ranks 19th in the nation in fielding percentage. This is as complete a team as we’ve seen in college baseball in the super regional era, but now the Demon Deacons need to take the next step and get to Omaha for the first time since their 1955 national championship. It's an enormous moment for this program, and it will be intriguing to see whether this juggernaut team can rise to the moment.

2. Alabama tries to keep the mojo rolling.

This will not be a cakewalk for Wake Forest, which draws a very good super regional opponent in No. 16 national seed Alabama (a team we projected as the No. 11 national seed heading into the NCAA tournament — so they are underseeded at 16). The Crimson Tide is an uncommonly experienced collection of veterans playing some magical baseball down the stretch, ever since head coach Brad Bohannon was fired amidst a gambling scandal in early May. Since then, Alabama is 13-4 with series wins against Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and a sweep of Ole Miss, followed by a solid 2-2 showing in the SEC tournament and a 3-0 run through the Tuscaloosa Regional. Interim head coach Jason Jackson has done an incredible job steadying the ship, and his players believe they can beat anybody — including the mighty Deacs.

3. Rhett Lowder vs. Luke Holman.

Lowder is the most accomplished pitcher in America, the two-time reigning ACC Pitcher of the year. At 14-0, 1.66, he leads the nation in both wins and ERA while posting a 125-20 K-BB mark in 108.2 innings. He locates and competes with a lively heater that reaches the mid-90s, a plus slider and a plus changeup, making him a slam dunk first-rounder and likely top-10 overall pick. Lowder vs. Holman might be the best pitching matchup of super regionals, as Holman has big-time stuff as well (as you can read below) and has emerged as a sophomore ace, going 7-3, 3.46 with 79 strikeouts and 31 walks in 75.1 IP.

4. Andrew Pinckney.

Pinckney has always tantalized with his athleticism and his raw power/speed blend, and he made a big step as a sophomore last year (posting an .883 OPS, up from .625 as a freshman). But this year the Alabama right fielder has ascended to true stardom, hitting .345/.451/.650 (1.102 OPS) with 17 homers and eight stolen bases. He is also a standout defender with a rifle arm in the outfield. He is simply one of the most well rounded and exciting players in this super regional, a high-end talent who can impact the game in many ways.

5. Nick Kurtz & Brock Wilken.

Wake Forest is loaded with big-time stars, but the two tentpoles in the heart of the lineup are corner infielders Kurtz and Wilken, who have combined to hit 50 home runs this year. Kurtz ranks third in the nation with a 1.395 OPS, and Wilken is fifth at 1.322. These two behemoths have serious all-fields power — Kurtz from the left side, Wilken from the right — and they draw a ton of walks as well, making them a pair of serious problems for any team that faces the Deacs. On top of that Kurtz is one of the best defensive first basemen in the country, and Wilken (a likely first-rounder next month) has improved his defense significantly at the hot corner. If you’re looking for stars, you’ll enjoy watching this duo.

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