For the 30th time in school history, Florida State’s Mike Martin Field will play host to the NCAA’s Tallahassee Regional. Though the Seminoles are easily the strongest side in the four-team field, the regional features some talented bats and stringent arms.
#1 Florida State Seminoles
As previously mentioned, Florida State is an easy favorite to come out of this regional on top. The Seminoles boast a daunting resume: They finished their 2013 ACC campaign with a 20-10 record, tops in their division. Outside of their conference, the Seminoles lost just five games, compiling a record of 44-15 by season’s end. If FSU didn’t seem intimidating enough as a sum, its parts only further make their case. The Seminoles claim a team ERA of 2.80, the stingiest mark among the four-team field. In fact, even in the pitching-heavy ACC (lowest ERA among four conferences represented), Florida State is second only to North Carolina in team ERA. Senior righty Scott Sitz leads the Seminoles with a 1.73 ERA in his 14 starts. With that being said, perhaps the team’s most electric hurler comes in the form of sophomore Luke Weaver. Weaver has a slightly higher ERA at 2.13, but his 13 starts saw the righty out of Deland, FL, amass an eye-opening season line: Allowed just 67 hits among the 305 batters he faced, walking 17 and striking out a whopping 100. The Seminoles’ offense is led by some dangerous bats in DJ Stewart (.348 BA / .451 OBP / .534 SLG) and Marcus Davis (.298 / .376 / .500). Combine that with the fact that they’ve lost just three games at home and FSU should do well against the tournament field’s relatively weak field.
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are about as middling as a college baseball team can get. Their overall record on the season stands at 34-26. Take a look at how they’ve fared in the SEC and Alabama looks even more pedestrian, carrying a 14-15 conference record. In their defense, they were struggling to survive in collegiate baseball’s most power-packed conference. The SEC featured seven nationally ranked teams, four of which were also selected as regional hosts. Alabama made quick work of weaker squads (VMI, Jacksonville State, etc.) and even stole a game or two from conference powers such as #1 Vanderbilt, #2 LSU, and #9 Arkansas. The Crimson Tide’s rotation has just two actual starters, but heads a pitching staff with a team ERA of 3.66. Their offense supplied about 5.2 runs per game of support in 2013. Charley Sullivan looks to Alabama’s best starting arm, finishing his campaign with a 3.53 ERA, 75 K’s, and a 5-6 record in 15 starts. On the offensive side of things, ‘Bama’s offense is flawed but has some potential. Not one everyday starter on the squad has an OBP in the .400’s. With that being said, Alabama has some power potential in Ben Moore (4 HRs / 40 RBI / .427 SLG), Brett Booth (6 HRs / 35 RBI/ .400 SLG), and Austen Smith (6 HRs / 37 RBI / .433 SLG).
#3 Troy Trojans
Troy finished the year with some impressive counting stats. The Trojans tied South Alabama for the best record in the Sun Belt Conference at 20-10. Their overall record stood at 40-18. To say the Trojans were a force on offense is underselling their bats. At .296, the team’s batting average was third in the conference. Additionally, Troy led in practically every offensive category in the SBC. Trae Santos led the Sun Belt with his 16 home runs. Tyler Vaughn amassed 70 runs, also leading the conference. Danny Collins was tops in the SBC in runs batted in at 67, followed closely by fellow Trojans Santos (66) and Logan Pierce (62). As impressive as these statistics all are (and they’re just a sample), they have to be taken with a grain and a half of salt. The Sun Belt carries a conference ERA of 4.50, with just Florida Atlantic maintaining a sub 4.00 ERA. With that being said, it should come as no surprise that Troy’s pitching has been somewhat unimpressive all season. Even with those caveats, though, the Trojans are a dangerous team. They will very likely fall behind in terms of pitching quality, but their team batting (.295 BA, 52 HRs, .463 SLG) should more than make up for that.
#4 Savannah State Tigers
Savannah State is by far the weakest team among the four-team field. Before we go into why the Tigers are in for a world of problems in the Tallahassee regional, lets look at some of the team’s positives in 2013. Savannah State emerged from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament as champions, beating Bethune-Cookman in the conference title game. Their overall record stood at a 33-22 mark (17-7 conference), and their conference title assured them a place in the NCAA tournament field. Now, some hard truth: the Tigers are in for a world of hurting in this regional. Had it not been for their conference title, this Savannah State squad wouldn’t be given consideration for any kind of postseason baseball. Their record is the fortunate result of an unfortunate class of opponents. They were trounced, to the tune of double-digit run totals, against their few noteworthy opponents (Georgia Tech, Georgia State) and even dropped some embarrassing games to weaker squads like Florida A&M. This isn’t a power team by any means, as no starter carries more than two homers on the season. With that being said, Todd Hagen paces the Tigers with a solid slashline (.320 BA / .408 OBP / .390 SLG). Kyle McGowin heads the rotation with his sterling 1.33 ERA and 12-1 record. Again, considering the competition he’s pitched against in the regular season, look for something on the extreme opposite of those numbers in the Tigers’ postseason.