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2011 NCAA Regional Preview: Austin

2011 Austin Regional Preview

  1. Texas (43-15)
  2. Texas State (40-21)
  3. Kent State (43-15)
  4. Princeton (23-22)

TEXAS (43-15, 19-8) Big 12 Conference Regular Season Co-Champions

Top Pitcher: Taylor Jungmann, Jr., SP (13-0, 0.95 ERA, 116 K)

Top Hitter: Erich Weiss, Fr., 3B (.368, 7 3B, 38 RBI)

Make no mistakes, this Texas team can make it to Omaha. The Longhorns don’t feature much on offense, but Taylor Jungmann on the mound is an automatic win. The Longhorns are 15-0 when Jungmann makes a start, thanks in part to the junior only allowing more than three runs once this season. Offensively, there are many holes in the Texas lineup. 3B Erich Weiss (.368) and SS Brandon Loy (.347) are the only Longhorns on the roster hitting over .300, while the entire team combined for only 13 home runs all season, but hit 110 doubles and 25 triples.

TEXAS STATE (40-21, 24-9) Southland Conference Regular Season/Tournament Champions

Top Pitcher: Carson Smith, Jr., SP (9-3, 1.98 ERA, 124 K)

Top Hitter: Ory Kalenkosky, Jr., 1B (.328, 21 HR, 69 RBI)

The Bobcats have been on fire since dropping the opening game of the Southland tournament, 6-0, to Nicholls. They followed it up with a 5-2 win over Southeastern Louisiana, knocking the Lions out of a potential postseason berth. Since then, Texas State has averaged over 11 runs in four games, including a 9-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in the tournament championship. The Bobcats rely on a strong offense, led by strong-slugging 1B Ory Kalenkosky, one of only six players nationwide to hit over 20 home runs. 2B Tyler Sibley, 3B Kyle Kubitza, OF Jeff McVaney, and OF Bret Atwood round out the offensive leaders. P Carson Smith, a likely high round pick, leads the pitching staff. Smith was the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row.

KENT STATE (43-15, 21-5) Mid-American Conference Regular Season/Tournament Champions

Top Pitcher:  Kyle Hallock, Sr., SP (10-4, 1.91 ERA, 83 K)

Top Hitter: Ben Klafczynski, Sr., OF (.368, 10 HR, 54 RBI)

The Golden Flashes feature a strong pitching staff, as well as a strong offense. The pitching staff features a trio of starters with ERAs under 2.00, led by MAC Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hallock. With a staff ERA of 2.56, and a total of 11 shutouts, the Flashes look great on paper, but will need to be at their best against an offense like Texas State. The bats, like the pitching staff, should be the second best in Austin this weekend. Hitting .296 as a team, Kent State features four starters over .300, and a pair of 10+ HR hitters. Outside of the starters, there is not much experience on the bench with only ten players with more than 100 at bats on the season.

PRINCETON (23-22, 15-5) Ivy League Tournament Champions

Top Pitcher: Zak Hermans, So., SP (5-1, 2.85 ERA, 52 K)

Top Hitter: Sam Mulroy, Jr., C (.324, 7 HR, 39 RBI)

The Tigers earned their postseason bid, but they are nowhere near as strong as any of the other teams in Austin. Princeton is led offensively by junior Sam Mulroy, a First Team All-Ivy League catcher that led the team with seven home runs and a .324 batting average, and nearly every other offensive category. On the mound, the Tigers’ best pitcher this season was sophomore Zak Hermans, from Coppell, Texas. Hermans was 5-1 for Princeton this season, but struggled last summer in the Texas Collegiate League. After Hermans, the Tigers will have freshman Mike Ford, a two-way player that was named the Ivy League Rookie of the year. Ford will start at first base when not on the mound.

PREDICTIONS:

Texas will win this regional, but it won’t be easy. Texas State is on a hot streak, and they have the bats to overwhelm the Longhorns pitching. A game between the two Lone Star teams with Carson Smith and Taylor Jungmann on the mound would be the ideal matchup of the regional. Kent State could pull an upset against the Bobcats, but it must prove their pitching staff can dominate Texas State’s stable of sluggers. Princeton has no chance here. Nothing against them, but this regional is full of teams that would’ve been in the tournament without an auto-bid.