Columbia, Mo., Regional!


1. Missouri (40-16)

2. Miami (Fla.) (36-22)

3. Louisville (40-20)

4. Kent State (33-24)
The Favorite: Missouri
When looking at Missouri from a statistical standpoint, it’s easy to come away unimpressed. But a closer look at the Tigers reveals a team that always finds a way to win games. While sophomore right-hander Aaron Crow leads the charge on the mound, the Tigers are led at the plate by junior outfielder Evan Frey. He’s hitting a team-leading .346 with four home runs and 33 RBIs. Jacob Priday is a power producer for the Tigers, while Brock Bond has shown consistency with his .319 batting average. The Tigers have a tough field with Miami and Louisville. But as they’ve shown, they’re not a team that likes to be doubted.
Dark horse candidate: Miami, Fla.
If you want to see consistency, look no further than the Miami baseball program. With a bid to the Columbia Regional, the Hurricanes are attending their 35th straight NCAA Regional. Color me impressed. While hometown Missouri is the favorite over the Hurricanes, that won’t get this team down. The Hurricanes have an impressive offense with Yonder Alonso and freshman third baseman Mark Sobolewski leading the charge. Second baseman Jemile Weeks is another versatile player to watch, while Roger Tomas routinely makes opposing pitchers pay for their mistakes. The Canes can win this Regional.
Best hitter: Miami 1B Yonder Alonso
In his second season with the Hurricanes, Alonso has blossomed into one of the top hitters in college baseball. The sophomore enters the Columbia Regional hitting a team-leading .378 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs. He’s also slugging .724 and has a .519 on-base percentage. In addition, Alonso has stolen 13 bases and has 12 doubles in 196 at bats.
Best pitcher: Missouri RHP Aaron Crow
There are several talented pitchers in this Regional, but the guy that stands out to me the most is Missouri right-hander Aaron Crow. After losing Max Scherzer and Nathan Culp last season, many critics thought the Mizzou pitching staff would take a giant step back. That assumption was wrong. Crow enters the weekend with an 8-3 record and a 3.17 ERA in 108 innings. He has also struck out 81 batters.
Regional review
Missouri has a tough opening round matchup with four-seed Kent State, but if they can hold off the Golden Flashes, it will likely shake off any potential postseason jitters. The Tigers have a good one-two punch in the weekend rotation, while Evan Frey and Jacob Priday lead the way at the plate. As the host team, it’s important for the Tigers to keep the fans involved in the action … Miami might have a better chance of winning this Regional than some might think. The Hurricanes have the most talented team in the field of four and have the postseason experience necessary to make it to the College World Series. For Miami, the key to the weekend is consistency across the board … Louisville is another team that could surprise this weekend. Roger Williams has done a phenomenal job with the Cards pitching staff, while Logan Johnson, Isaiah Howes and Boomer Whiting provide the offensive fireworks … Kent State enters the tournament just 6-13 against teams in the top 100.Rivals.com