Friday (6/13) News Links

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  1. HuskerFan31

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  3. HuskerFan31

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    BA - College World Series 2014: Previewing The Field

    In our preseason Top 25 capsules, we used the 20-80 scouting scale to grade each team in various facets of the game. Five of the eight teams that reached the College World Series were ranked in our preseason Top 25, so we thought it would be instructive to revisit and revise our preseason grades for those seven teams. Texas Tech, Mississippi and UC Irvine were not ranked in the preseason and will be subjected to the scrutiny of the 20-80 scale for the first time. Here's how we explained our grading system in the preseason (we'll use the same criteria here):

    Scouts grade prospects on how their tools compare with those of an average major leaguer, but for our Top 25′s purposes, we rate talent relative to an average NCAA tournament team. In addition to grading our top 25 teams on typical tools like hitting for average, hitting for power, speed and defense, we have divided the fifth tool (arm) into two categories: starting pitching and bullpen. We're also giving teams a grade for Experience/Intangibles?think of it as a team's "makeup", if you like. For each category, a grade of 50 is average, comparable to a typical NCAA tournament contender; 60 is above-average; 70 is well-above-average; 40 is below-average; and 30 is well-below-average. Twenty and 80 are the extreme limits in each direction.

    Finally, each team is given an Overall Future Potential (OFP) grade. In this case, the OFP represents our assessment of a team's overall strength and its chance to win the College World Series.



    College World Series Matchups (all times Eastern)
    Saturday, 3 p.m.
    ucirvineUC IRVINE
    Record: 40-23.
    Preseason ranking: NR.
    Ranking at end of regular season: NR.
    Season In A Nutshell: The Anteaters flew under the radar in the first half, losing nonconference series to Fresno State, Nebraska and San Diego State. They won their first five Big West series, capped by a sweep of UC Santa Barbara that propelled them into the Top 25, but then they lost their final eight conference games against powers Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, squeaking into the NCAA tournament as one of the final four teams in the field. The Anteaters traversed the most rigorous road to Omaha of any CWS team, winning a regional hosted by No. 1 national seed Oregon State, then sweeping a super regional against Big 12 regular-season champion Oklahoma State to reach Omaha for the first time since 2007.

    An opposing coach breaks down UC Irvine

    GRADING THE ANTEATERS
    Hitting
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 45
    UCI's offense is a mirror image of Texas' offense; both are predicated on small ball and execution. Irvine ranks second in the nation with 88 sacrifice bunts, behind only the Longhorns. The Anteaters do all the things you'd expect a Mike Gillespie-coached team to do: they get hit by pitches, they squeeze a lot, they hit situationally, hit-and-run, and generally just turn in quality at-bats. They aren't a powerhouse offense, ranking 132nd in the nation in batting (.272) and 219th in scoring (4.4 runs per game). But Connor Spencer (.370), Jerry McClanahan (.320) and Taylor Sparks (.307) give the 'Eaters a trio of accomplished veteran hitters to lead the offense. And Sparks and Spencer are both hot, hitting .458 and .455 in the postseason, respectively.

    Power
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 35
    Like Texas, the Anteaters play in a home ballpark that virtually eliminates the home run?they have just 12 as a team, ranking 218th in the nation. But Sparks, the Reds' second-round pick, has plus raw power and slugged .502 this spring (16 doubles, five triples, five homers), making him one of the few players in Omaha with a real chance to go deep at TD Ameritrade park. Kris Paulino has five of Irvine's remaining seven homers. Clearly, power is not a big part of this team's attack.

    Speed
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 35
    Speed isn't a big part of Irvine's game, either. The Anteaters rank 263rd in the nation in stolen bases per game; Spencer (eight) and Sparks (eight) are the only Anteaters with more than three steals on the year, and neither player is what you'd call a burner.

    Defense
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 60
    Irvine is a fundamentally sound club with a .974 fielding percentage. Sparks and shortstop Chris Rabago are playmakers on the left side of the infield, but they make their share of errors too. The outfield is solid but not overly rangy. Catcher Jerry McClanahan is the leader of the defense; he blocks balls well and controls the running game, throwing out 44 percent of basestealers this spring.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    Big West pitcher of the year Andrew Morales is a consummate winner whose stuff has improved as a senior, helping him climb into the second round (Cardinals) as a senior money-saver with legitimate big league potential. He works in the low 90s and mixes in three solid secondary pitches, highlighted by a swing-and-miss slider. Soft-tossing lefty Elliot Surrey and senior Evan Brock (a stock righthander with loads of experience and competitiveness) aren't flashy but do a good job throwing strikes and letting their defense make plays behind them.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 50
    Splitter specialist Sam Moore led the nation with 23 saves during the regular season, but hitters figured him out late, and he has made just one appearance in the postseason. Wily lefthander Evan Manarino and quick-armed righty Mitch Merten have been the go-to relievers during the NCAA tournament, though Morales and Surrey have pitched deep enough into games that the 'Eaters haven't had to lean too heavily on their 'pen.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    No current member of the Anteaters has played in Omaha, of course, but the roster is loaded with savvy upperclassmen who do all the little things necessary to win. Irvine is resilient, battle-tested and extraordinarily well coached by the universally respected Gillespie.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    As one of the last teams into the field of 64, Irvine was a major long shot to win a regional in Corvallis, and it was a heavy underdog on the road in super regionals at Oklahoma State. The Anteaters proved their mettle in those two weekends, but they still head to Omaha as underdogs in a field loaded with more talented teams. If they can stay in the winners' bracket?and Morales and Surrey give them a chance to do so?they have a chance to shock the college baseball world again.











    texasTEXAS
    Record: 43-19.
    Preseason ranking: 18.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 21.
    Season In A Nutshell: After missing regionals in back-to-back seasons, the Longhorns bounced back strong in 2014, getting off to a 29-8 start that boosted them to No. 6 in the BA Top 25 on April 14. They lost their next three series to fall to No. 25, but they never dropped out of the rankings, and they beat rivals Rice and Texas A&M to win the Houston Regional as a No. 2 seed. Then the 'Horns allowed just two runs total in a two-game sweep of Houston in the Austin Super Regional, propelling them to Omaha for the first time since 2011.

    An opposing coach breaks down Texas

    GRADING THE LONGHORNS
    Hitting
    Preseason: 50
    Revised: 45
    The Texas offense is much more competent than it was in its disastrous 2013 season, but nobody will mistake it for a juggernaut?it ranks 161st in the nation in batting (.268) and 191st in scoring (4.6 runs per game). But the Longhorns are disciplined up and down the lineup, drawing 271 walks (13th in the country), and they execute Augie Garrido's West Coast offense proficiently, leading the nation with 96 sacrifice bunts. Senior OF Mark Payton, who has reached base safely in a Big 12 record 101 straight games, is one of college baseball's toughest outs, hitting .326/.467/.464 with 55 walks and just 22 strikeouts in 224 at-bats.

    Power
    Preseason: 30
    Revised: 35
    UT's Disch-Falk Field suppresses power, so the team's total of 21 home runs (124th in the nation) is a bit misleading. Ben Johnson (6 HR) and Tres Barrera (5 HR) give this lineup some punch, and Payton racks up his share of doubles and triples. Still, this is primarily a singles-hitting offense that bunts runners over and manufacturers runs using small ball, and by forcing opponents to make mistakes.

    Speed
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 55
    The Longhorns don't run a ton, but they have a pair of very proficient basestealers in the blazing-fast Johnson (21-for-21) and the heady Payton (19-for-20). Collin Shaw, Zane Gurwitz and C.J Hinojosa also have solid speed.

    Defense
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 60
    The Longhorns rank 26th in Division I with a .975 fielding percentage, although they certainly benefit from the room-service hops provided by the turf surface at Disch-Falk Field. But this defense is solid everywhere on the diamond, particularly up the middle, where Hinojosa and Brooke Marlowe (.994 fielding percentage) make a slick double-play tandem. Texas has turned 67 double plays this year, fourth in the nation.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: 70
    Revised: 65
    With ace lefthander Dillon Peters lost to injury late in the season, Texas takes a hit in this category, but the staff still ranks sixth nationally with a 2.32 ERA. Senior bulldog Nathan Thornhill sets the tone, and junior righty Parker French has similarly solid stuff, though neither will light up radar guns the way Vanderbilt's and Louisville's aces will. With Peters out, Lukas Schiraldi moves into the No. 3 starter role; he has tantalizing talent but has not been efficient this year, walking 39 in 64 innings.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 70
    Hard-throwing John Curtiss returned from Tommy John surgery this year and embraced a bullpen role, giving the Longhorns a shut-down closer. The supporting cast is talented, deep and versatile, providing Texas some peace of mind in case their starters struggle early in games. Chad Hollingsworth, Travis Duke, Morgan Cooper and Ty Culbreth are all reliable options.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: 50
    Revised: 60
    Because Texas missed the postseason each of the last two seasons, only seniors Thornhill and Payton entered the season with meaningful postseason experience, but both of them have been to Omaha, and they have provided sterling leadership all season long. Texas leans plenty on underclassmen in the lineup and bullpen, but they are winning players who have fully bought into Garrido's team-first ethos.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 60
    Pitching and defense wins in Omaha, and Texas pitches and defends very well. This team is strikingly similar to UCLA's national championship club a year ago, with a staff led by pair of veteran strike-throwers with savvy and average velocity (Thornhill and French), and an offense that knows how to execute.










    Saturday, 8 p.m.
    louisvilleLOUISVILLE
    Record: 50-15.
    Preseason ranking: 20.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 13.
    Season In A Nutshell: Louisville experienced just one losing weekend en route to the American Athletic Conference regular-season title, then went 5-0 in regionals and super regionals for the second straight year to reach the 50-win plateau for the second straight year.

    An opposing coach breaks down Louisville

    GRADING THE CARDINALS

    Hitting
    Preseason: 50
    Revised: 60
    The Cardinals have a gritty, line-drive-oriented offense with a nice balance of righties and lefties throughout the order. They rank 26th in the nation in scoring, 47th in batting and 22nd in doubles, making them one of the better offenses in Omaha statistically. They also are well-stocked with accomplished bat-handlers who can move runners along and lay down bunts.

    Power
    Preseason: 40
    Revised: 50
    Jeff Gardner has slugged nine home runs for the second straight year, giving the lineup a dangerous centerpiece. Grant Kay and Zach Lucas have five homers apiece, and Cole Sturgeon wears out the gaps, with 16 doubles and seven triples. Freshmen Nick Solak and Corey Ray have emerging pop too.

    Speed
    Preseason: 70
    Revised: 70
    As usual, Louisville has serious speed and loves to use it to push the action. The Cardinals rank second in the nation with 132 stolen bases, led by speed merchant Sutton Whiting (37-for-43), the younger brother of former Cardinals speedster Boomer Whiting, who stole 73 bases for the 2007 Omaha team. Sturgeon (19 SB) and Kay (23 SB) are also accomplished basestealers, while Solak, Ray and reserve outfielders Colin Lyman and Mike White bring additional speed.

    Defense
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 60
    Louisville's .971 fielding percentage (84th in the nation) is the lowest of the eight CWS teams, but this is still an athletic defense that makes plenty of highlight-reel plays, especially in the outfield, where Sturgeon is a dynamo. 3B Alex Chittenden, 1B Grant Kay and 2B Zach Lucas give the Cardinals three former shortstops at other infield positions.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 55
    Kyle Funkhouser blossomed into a bona fide ace and an All-American as a sophomore this year, and he can dominate with a 92-96 fastball and a power slider. Anthony Kidston works in the mid-to-upper 80s but has a very good changeup and 12-to-6 curveball, making him an effective No. 2. The Cardinals lost No. 2 starter Jared Ruxer to Tommy John surgery at the end of the regular season, but freshman lefty Josh Rogers pitched well in a win against Kentucky in regionals, giving the Cardinals confidence in him going into Omaha.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 70
    Nick Burdi is college baseball's hardest thrower, with a fastball that reaches triple digits and a filthy low-90s slider, giving the Cardinals a premier closer. Sturgeon is a key two-way piece who joins with Kyle McGrath to form a stellar duo of lefthanded setup men. Freshman Jake Sparger is the primary righthanded middle relief option, and the Cardinals have plenty of trust in him. Burdi, Sturgeon and McGrath all have struck out more than a batter per inning (and Burdi has struck out close to two batters per inning). This bullpen's ability to miss bats is a huge advantage in tight spots.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 70
    Louisville is the only team in this field that reached Omaha last year. Though the Cardinals have rebuilt their pitching staff since the end of 2013, they still have plenty of Omaha holdovers on the roster who know what to expect from the big stage. This program knows how to win in the postseason, and the coaching staff excels at putting players in the best position to succeed.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 65
    The Cardinals are balanced, experienced and confident. Their elite speed and collection of big-time power arms are separators for them. This team has a strong chance to win the first national championship in program history, but staying in the winners' bracket is important because the staff isn't as deep without Ruxer.



























    vanderbiltVANDERBILT
    Record: 46-19.
    Preseason ranking: 10.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 20.
    Season In A Nutshell: The Commodores went 16-2 in preconference play, then went 17-13 in an up-and-down SEC performance. During one stretch in March and April, they lost four series in five weeks, but the played better down the stretch and still wound up hosting a regional, which they won in three games. Stanford pushed Vandy to three games in super regionals, but the Commodores rode hot bats to 23 runs in their two wins in that series.

    An opposing coach breaks down Vanderbilt

    GRADING THE COMMODORES
    Hitting
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 60
    Vanderbilt excels at driving the gaps, ranking third in the nation with 136 doubles and 55th in scoring (5.8 runs per game). Three Commodores are hitting better than .300 and have OBPs better than .400 (Bryan Reynolds, Dansby Swanson and Vince Conde), but outfielders John Norwood and Rhett Wiseman have also heated up at the right time, helping fuel Vandy's offensive surge in the postseason. Reynolds is leading the charge, however, batting .520/.552/.640 in the NCAA tournament.

    Power
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 50
    Zander Wiel leads the team with just five home runs, so the Commodores won't hurt opponents with the long ball. But as mentioned above, they hit a lot of doubles?and in the BBCOR era, doubles power is power. Reynolds and Swanson lead the way with 24 doubles apiece, tied for sixth in the nation. You might be surprised to learn that Vanderbilt has a higher slugging percentage (.388) than Virginia (.382).

    Speed
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 70
    The Commodores are loaded with athleticism and like to put pressure on opponents with their speed?they rank fifth in the nation with 103 stolen bases. While the Commodores don't have one elite burner like Louisville's Sutton Whiting, they do have seven regulars with double-digit steals, illustrating their ability to force the action up and down the lineup. Swanson (18-for-23) is the most dangerous stolen base threat.

    Defense
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 65
    The Commodores are fielding a rock-solid .975 (33rd in the nation), and their athleticism plays all over the diamond, making them even better than their fielding percentage suggests. Vince Conde (.984 fielding percentage at shortstop) and Swanson (.968) make for a stellar middle-infield duo, while Xavier Turner and Wiel have been very solid on the infield corners. Reynolds, Norwood and Rhett Wiseman cover abundant ground in the outfield, and freshman Jason Delay has answered the big question mark facing Vandy behind the plate; he blocks balls in the dirt well, giving pitchers confidence to bury breaking balls.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 70
    Vandy's rotation gelled when the Commodores moved Carson Fulmer from the back of the bullpen into the No. 2 starter spot in the second half. He holds his plus velocity deep into games and offers a pair of wipeout secondary pitches in his filthy breaking ball and changeup. Two-time first-round pick Tyler Beede has had an uneven junior year thanks to command that comes and goes, but he's a proven competitor with an electric fastball and devastating changeup. Walker Buehler and Tyler Ferguson give Vandy two more power-armed starters, making this rotation absurdly deep.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: 75
    Revised: 65
    With Fulmer in the rotation, this grade drops, but Vandy still has an ultra-experienced closer with 26 career saves in sidewinder Brian Miller, plus a power-armed stopper in Adam Ravenelle, and a freshman who misses bats at a remarkable clip in Hayden Stone, owner of a vicious slider. Lefty Jared Miller is another seasoned junior who can start or relieve as needed.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 60
    No holdovers remain from Vandy's only previous CWS team in 2011. This is a young team stuffed with underclassmen in the starting lineup?Conde and Norwood are the only upperclassmen, while Beede, Ravanelle and the Millers give the pitching staff four juniors to lean upon. But by this point in the season, Vanderbilt's new starters have proven themselves, and the Commodores showed plenty of toughness in the super regional, answering Stanford's Game Three rally with one of their own.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 65
    Vanderbilt, Virginia and TCU have the most impressive collections of power arms in this CWS field, and it is easy to envision any of the three riding its pitching to the national title. The performance of Vandy's offense in the postseason also gives reason for encouragement; this team is playing well in all facets heading into Omaha.











    Sunday, 3 p.m.
    texastechTEXAS TECH
    Record: 45-19.
    Preseason ranking: NR.
    Ranking at end of regular season: NR.
    Season In A Nutshell: In coach Tim Tadlock's second season at the helm, the Red Raiders smashed expectations. They were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Big 12 in the preseason coaches' poll, but they quickly caught the attention of the college baseball world by taking three of four from preseason No. 3 Indiana to open the season. They also won a series at TCU en route to a 14-10 showing in the Big 12 and a No. 2 seed in the Coral Gables Regional, where they went 2-1 against host Miami to reach their first super regional. Texas Tech then shut out College of Charleston in back-to-back 1-0 wins to reach Omaha for the first time in program history.

    An opposing coach breaks down Texas Tech

    GRADING THE RED RAIDERS
    Hitting
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 60
    The Red Raiders are an aggressive, hard-nosed offensive team, fitting Tadlock's mold. Their offense is well tailored for the spacious gaps of TDAP, ranking eighth in the nation in doubles (123) and seventh in triples (24). They also rank 50th in batting and 39th in scoring, making them one of the better statistical offenses in Omaha. Several Red Raiders walk more than they strike out (Stephen Smith, Jake Barrios, Tyler Neslony and Tim Proudfoot), emblematic of a team that doesn't give away any at-bats.

    Power
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    Texas Tech has a trio of dangerous power hitters in Eric Gutierrez (.312/.410/.557, 12 HR), Adam Kirsch (.300/.390/.553, 10 HR) and Neslony (.388/.468/.612, 4 HR). The rest of the lineup lacks thump, but those three run producers are formidable. And Bryant Burleson has good power to the gaps, as evidenced by his 20 doubles.

    Speed
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 30
    No Texas Tech regular has more than four stolen bases; as a whole, the team ranks 291st out of 300 Division I teams in stolen bases per game.

    Defense
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 70
    TTU's defense isn't flashy, but it makes all the routine plays, ranking fifth in the nation with a .981 fielding percentage in seventh with 64 double plays. Heady veteran shortstop Proudfoot is the infield glue, while Conley is a standout in center field?he helped preserve a 1-0 lead in the super regional clincher with a brilliant diving catch in right-center.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 50
    For most of the season, Texas Tech starters rarely worked deep into games, but they have elevated their performance in the postseason, helping the Red Raiders shut out their opponents four times in six NCAA tournament games. Chris Sadberry, Dylan Dusek and Cameron Smith give Tech a trio of lefthanders who have proven themselves as starters (Smith shut out Miami in the regional clincher in just his fourth start of the year). Sadberry is the only power arm of the bunch, however.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    Veteran lefty Jonny Drozd has been a bullpen workhorse, posting a 2.00 ERA and five saves in 72 innings over 26 relief appearances. His deception and command help his pedestrian stuff play up. Righthander Ryan Moseley has more arm strength and can serve as a starter or reliever as needed. The same goes for Corey Taylor and Smith. The Red Raiders will piece together their pitching based on matchups and who has the hot hand, rather than let conventional roles dictate their mound strategy.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    The Red Raiders have reached new heights this postseason?the program had never even been to a super regional, and its last trip to regionals came 10 years ago. Still, it's a blue-collar bunch that plays very hard and smart, and the sum is greater than its parts.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    Texas Tech seems like a long shot to win a bracket filled with three considerably more talented teams, but the Red Raiders have defied expectations all season long and are one of the last eight teams standing.

























    texaschristianTEXAS CHRISTIAN (No. 7 national seed)
    Record: 47-16.
    Preseason ranking: 19.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 9.
    Season In A Nutshell: After a 15-12 start, TCU has been the hottest team in college baseball, going 32-4 since the calendar flipped to April. The Frogs finished second in the Big 12's regular-season standings behind Oklahoma State, then beat the Cowboys in the conference tournament championship game. They allowed just four runs in three games (over 42 grueling innings) in the Fort Worth Regional. Pepperdine pushed the Frogs to the brink in super regionals, but TCU scored two in the ninth to earn a thrilling come-from-behind victory in Monday's series finale, getting them back to Omaha for the second time (the first since 2010).

    An opposing coach breaks down TCU

    GRADING THE HORNED FROGS
    Hitting
    Preseason: 45
    Revised: 50
    A lifeless offense doomed the Frogs in 2013, when they ranked 270th in the nation in batting and 245th in scoring. With largely the same group of players, TCU took a major step forward this spring, ranking 63rd in batting (.283) and 133rd in scoring (5.1 runs per game). The Frogs still aren't an imposing offensive club, and they win plenty of games 2-1 or 3-2. But they compete; they get enough timely hitting, they turn in quality at-bats up and down the lineup, and six of their nine starters have OBPs better than .370, led by top hitter Garrett Crain (.335/.418/.431).

    Power
    Preseason: 40
    Revised: 35
    TCU has just 13 home runs as a team (210th in the nation), and hulking Kevin Cron (five homers) is the only real power threat in the lineup. Cron also leads the team with 18 doubles, but no other Frog has more than 18 extra-base hits. Boomer White, Dylan Fitzgerald and Jerrick Suiter have some physicality and some gap-to-gap ability, but this is mostly a singles-hitting team.

    Speed
    Preseason: 50
    Revised: 50
    What coach Jim Schlossnagle said about his team in the preseason still holds true: the Frogs have one "banger" (Cron), one "burner" (Cody Jones, who has 28 stolen bases), and a bunch of baseball players. White, Keaton Jones and the rest of those "baseball players" will pick their spots on the basepaths, but none is a plus runner.

    Defense
    Preseason: 50
    Revised: 70
    TCU wound up defending much better than expected, posting a .978 fielding percentage (11th in the nation). Derek Odell transitioned smoothly to third base, allowing Crain to slide into the lineup at second, where he has fielded .991. Keaton Jones has been a rock for three years at shortstop, and Kyle Bacak is an unsung hero behind the plate. Cody Jones has superb range in center field, which will be a major asset in cavernous TDAP.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 70
    TCU leads Division I in ERA (2.19) and WHIP (1.02), and ranks sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (8.4). This staff has a blend power arms and "pitchability guys," giving hitters a variety of looks. First-round pick Brandon Finnegan has electric stuff from the left side, but he wasn't the Big 12 pitcher of the year. That honor belonged to sidearmer Preston Morrison, a groundball machine with pinpoint command. Freshman lefthander Tyler Alexander pitched extremely well down the stretch, showing moxie and command beyond his years, giving TCU a trio of excellent starters.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: 70
    Revised: 70
    Riley Ferrell has overpowering stuff. Virginia's Nick Howard, Louisville's Nick Burdi and Ferrell are the three most electric closers in college baseball, with mid-to-upper-90s fastballs and devastating breaking balls, and all made it to Omaha. Trey Teakell, Alex Young and Jordan Kipper (who can also start if needed) form a versatile and excellent supporting cast.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 65
    The Frogs feature eight upperclassmen in the everyday lineup and two seasoned juniors atop the rotation. A number of its juniors were key pieces of a super regional team as freshmen, so they have won their share of big games?and shown plenty of character by bouncing back from a very trying 2013 campaign.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: 55
    Revised: 65
    TCU's elite pitching staff and airtight defense is capable of carrying it all the way to the national championship. The Frogs are the least offensive of the three teams on their side of the bracket, but they are built to win in spacious TD Ameritrade Park, and they haven't lost back-to-back games since March.









    Sunday, 8 p.m.
    virginiaVIRGINIA
    Record: 49-14.
    Preseason ranking: 1.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 8.
    Season In A Nutshell: Virginia was preseason No. 1 for the first time in program history and lived up to its billing, spending a total of eight weeks atop the rankings over the course of the season. The Cavs lost just one series all season?their regular-season finale at Wake Forest?but have gotten their bats going in the postseason to reach Omaha for the third time since 2009.

    An opposing coach breaks down Virginia

    GRADING THE CAVALIERS
    Hitting
    Preseason: 75
    Revised: 65
    OK, so the Cavaliers have not been the offensive juggernaut we expected heading into the season; they rank 80th in the nation in scoring, 76th in batting and 85th in slugging. But in the last two weeks, they have finally started to perform at a level commensurate with their prodigious talent. The modest season numbers force us to slightly downgrade our assessment of Virginia's hitting, but this is still the most talented offensive team in college baseball, with depth, star power and patient approaches.

    Power
    Preseason: 70
    Revised: 60
    Again, we are giving Virginia a higher grade than its numbers would seem to merit. The Cavs have 33 home runs as a team (48th in the nation) and a .382 slugging percentage (85th), but Mike Papi, Joe McCarthy, Derek Fisher and Brandon Downes are all physical specimens with legitimate power potential. This team is geared to hit doubles and triples?which is exactly the kind of power that plays at TD Ameritrade Park. In that respect, the offense is constructed a lot like Arizona's 2012 national championship club.

    Speed
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 60
    Fisher can fly, while Downes, McCarthy, John La Prise and Branden Cogswell are also solid-average to above-average runners. Papi, Kenny Townes and Daniel Pinero are decent runners too?there are no slugs in this lineup, although the Cavs do not rely heavily on the stolen base (McCarthy leads the team with 11).

    Defense
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 70
    Virginia ranks third in the nation with a .982 fielding percentage. Cogswell played a good shortstop as a sophomore but has slid to second base as a junior in deference to Pinero, a tall, smooth defender with a strong, accurate arm. Cogswell is fielding .990 at second base, and the Cavs have three other up-the-middle standouts in center fielder Downes and catchers Nate Irving and Robbie Coman.

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 70
    Nathan Kirby is a first-team All-American and potential 2015 first-round pick atop the rotation, while fellow sophomore lefty Brandon Waddell spent all of last year as the Friday starter, giving the Cavs a pair of proven big-game winners. Senior Artie Lewicki and sophomore Josh Sbroz give Virginia a pair of power-armed righties who can reach the mid-90s, making this rotation four men deep with ease.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: 60
    Revised: 65
    The Cavaliers have a first-round pick at the back of the bullpen in Nick Howard, and a wily senior long reliever/stopper in Whit Mayberry. Freshman Connor Jones has a huge arm and pitched a lot of meaningful innings this year before struggling with his command late and evidently falling out of the circle of trust in the postseason. But UVa. can use Lewicki or Sborz in relief if necessary, and Austin Young is a quality option from the right side.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: 65
    Revised: 65
    The Cavs haven't been to Omaha since 2011, so most of the roster is new to the CWS scene. But this is a veteran team loaded with upperclassmen who know how to win, and the exceptional coaching staff knows its way around Omaha from two previous trips since 2009.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: 70
    Revised: 70
    Virginia has no holes. It is the most talented team in the nation, and it is playing its best at the optimal time. The Cavaliers enter the CWS as the clear favorites to win the national championship.

























    olemissMISSISSIPPI
    Record: 46-19.
    Preseason ranking: NR.
    Ranking at end of regular season: 12.
    Season In A Nutshell: The Rebels got off to a strong start, going 17-2 in preconference play, then went 19-11 in the SEC to capture the West Division crown. After a 1-2 showing in the SEC tournament, Ole Miss allowed just five runs during a 3-0 showing in the Oxford Regional, then went on the road and beat the top-ranked team in the nation in super regionals, dropping the series opener against Louisiana-Lafayette but rallying with two straight victories to reach Omaha for the first time since 1972.

    An opposing coach breaks down Mississippi

    GRADING THE REBELS
    Hitting
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    Statistically, Ole Miss has the most potent offense in Omaha, ranking 14th nationally in batting (.303), 36th in scoring (6.1 runs per game) and 17th in doubles (116). Upperclassmen Auston Bousfield (.349/.395/.495), Will Allen (.345/.382/.513) and Austin Anderson (.331/.421/.469) are the team's three leading hitters, giving Ole Miss a trio of doubles machines in the heart of the lineup. Braxton Lee is a catalyst atop the lineup, and even Will Jamison and Errol Robinson are pesky outs at the bottom of the lineup.

    Power
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    The Rebels are clearly the most powerful team in the CWS field, with physicality throughout the lineup. Sikes Orvis (14 HR) is the most accomplished power hitter on a team that ranks 16th nationally with 42 home runs. Bousfield, Allen, Anderson and Preston Overbey provide good pop to the gaps and occasional home run power as well.

    Speed
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    Not only are the Rebels physical, but they are athletic and fast. Lee (30-for-35 in stolen bases) is a disruptive force on the basepaths, while Bousfield (17-for-18), Anderson (10-for-16), J.B. Woodman (10-for-15), Jamison (6-for-7) and Robinson (5-for-8) are additional basestealing threats on a team that is not afraid to run. Allen and Orvis are not runners, however.

    Defense
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 60
    Like Louisville, Mississippi's defense is better than its .971 fielding percentage suggests. No group of outfielders in Omaha covers more ground than the trio of Lee, Bousfield and Jamison, and that range is a major asset in spacious TD Ameritrade Park. The infield features three steady veterans and a slick freshman shortstop in Robinson, who has 18 errors but is capable of making dazzling plays at times. No team has won the CWS with a freshman shortstop since LSU in 2009 (Austin Nola).

    Starting Pitching
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 55
    Mississippi's rotation doesn't miss bats the way TCU's, Virginia's, Vanderbilt's or Louisville's do, but the Rebels have had plenty of success with Chris Ellis, Christian Trent and Sam Smith on the mound this year. The lefthanded Trent has the best out pitch of the three with his slider, along with a fastball that bumps 90, while the righthanded Ellis has more arm strength but has fanned just 64 in 107 innings. This staff will pitch to contact and let its defense work.

    Bullpen
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    Maybe Ole Miss doesn't have a big-name closer like Nick Howard, Nick Burdi or Riley Ferrell, but the Rebels can shorten games with their deep, reliable bullpen. Aaron Greenwood is a battle-hardened moment-of-truth stopper, and Josh Laxer has taken a quantum leap forward as a junior, giving the Rebels a late-game option with a 93-95 fastball and swing-and-miss slider. Scott Weathersby and Jeremy Massie are two valuable long men, one from the right side and one from the left. Wyatt Short is another trustworthy option.

    Experience/Intangibles
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 60
    The Rebels famously haven't been to Omaha in 42 years, so they must avoid letting the hoopla surrounding the end of their drought overwhelm them. But this is a veteran team in the lineup and on the mound, and the coaching staff has been to Omaha before with other programs, so they know what to expect and will have their Rebels ready.

    Baseball America OFP
    Preseason: N/A
    Revised: 65
    Ole Miss is one of the most balanced teams in Omaha, and it is certainly good enough to win the national championship. Staying in the winners' bracket?starting with a victory against a loaded Virginia team in the opener?is important, but Massie and Weathersby can eat up innings should the Rebels need to make a run through the losers' bracket.

    BA - CWS 2014: Previewing the Field
     
  4. HuskerFan31

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    PG: 2014 College World Series preview

    CWS PREVIEW: BRACKET ONE
    LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
    Record: 50-15

    Coach: Dan McDonnell (Eighth season)

    CWS appearances: Three

    Drafted prospects: RHP Nick Burdi (2nd round, Minnesota), OF Jeff Gardner (8th round, Washington), UTI Cole Sturgeon (10th round, Boston), RHP Jared Ruxer (12th round, Angels -- hurt, will not play in CWS), LHP Joe Filomeno (15th round, Texas), 1B Grant Kay (27th round, Tampa Bay), 2B Zach Lucas (29th round, Pittsburgh), LHP Kyle McGrath (36th round, San Diego)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: B+

    Much like a typical Dan McDonnell type of offense, the Cardinals can beat you in a variety of ways. They can hit the long ball at times, live in the gaps, and of course, love to put pressure on opposing defenses. Kyle Gibson, Zach Lucas and Cole Sturgeon are veterans with advanced approaches, while you have to think outstanding outfielder Jeff Gardner will get it going at some point in the postseason. The fact Gardner has been relatively quiet thus far could be bad news for opposing teams. Meanwhile, keep an eye on young Corey Ray, yet another athletic component of this offense, as he's been sizzling hot in the postseason.


    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B

    The Cardinals have an All-American arm in righthanded pitcher Kyle Funkhouser leading the charge into the College World Series. Funkhouser is a premium arm with a fastball anywhere from 92-96, along with a good slider and overall stuff. Meanwhile, Anthony Kidston isn't necessarily an overpowering arm, but possesses a quality changeup. Young Josh Rogers could be the X-factor for this rotation in Omaha. Rogers was outstanding in the Louisville Regional, but didn't pitch last weekend with the NCAA Super Regional only being two games. Rogers is fresh and should provide a boost for Dan McDonnell's club if that's needed.


    BULLPEN

    Grade: A

    This is the strength of Louisville's pitching staff. The Cardinals certainly have one of the top arms in the country in hard-throwing righty Nick Burdi, who can touch 98-100 on the radar gun, along with a 90-plus mph slider, but there's a lot more to this bullpen, too. For instance, lefty Kyle McGrath has been terrific this season with a 1.38 ERA in 39 innings, and two-way star Cole Sturgeon is having an All-American type of season with a 1.98 ERA in 36 1/3 innings of work. The Cards haven't had to navigate too deep into the bullpen during the postseason, and pitching coach Roger Williams would like to see it stay that way in Omaha.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Kyle Gibson (.471 AVG, 3 2B, .500 OBP)

    1B Grant Kay (.313 AVG, 2 stolen bases)

    2B Zach Lucas (.438 AVG, 5 2B, .526 OBP)

    SS Sutton Whiting (.235 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, 4-4 SBs)

    3B Alex Chittenden (.190 AVG, 2 RBIs)

    LF Jeff Gardner (.105 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, .261 OBP)

    CF Cole Sturgeon (.421 AVG, 4 RBIs, .500 OBP)

    RF Corey Ray (.471 AVG, 3 2B, 3 RBIs, .500 OBP)

    DH Nick Solak (.400 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs)



    SP Kyle Funkhouser (1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 17 K, 6 BB, .143 BAA)

    SP Anthony Kidston (4.15 ERA, 13 IP, 13 K, 7 BB, .286 BAA)

    SP Josh Rogers (1.50 ERA, 6 IP, 5 K, 0 BB, .190 BAA)

    CL/RP Nick Burdi (0.00 ERA, 4 appearances, 3.1 IP, 5 K, 2 BB)


    TEXAS LONGHORNS
    Record: 43-19

    Coach: Augie Garrido (18th season)

    CWS appearances: 35

    Drafted prospects: RHP John Curtiss (6th round, Minnesota), OF Mark Payton (7th round, New York Yankees), LHP Dillon Peters (10th round, Miami), RHP Nathan Thornhill (13th round, Philadelphia), RHP Lukas Schiraldi (15th round, Seattle), RHP Parker French (19th round, Detroit)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: B

    Beating Texas isn't rocket science, but the Longhorns are incredibly difficult to beat if you don't establish an early lead against them. The 'Horns thrive on being ahead early in the game, and they've spent much of the NCAA postseason in that situation. Once UT gets a lead, its execution this postseason has been near impeccable. Mark Payton is a leader and consistent hitter, while leadoff hitter Brooks Marlow is much better than numbers would indicate. Meanwhile, catcher Tres Barrera is one of the top first-year players in the country, and shortstop C.J. Hinojosa is hitting like the player we thought he could be as an incoming freshman last year. The X-factor for this offense could end up being athletic outfielder Ben Johnson. Johnson hasn't been explosive in the postseason thus far, but has a little pop to go a long with speed.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    We can't say enough about the job the Texas starting rotation is doing in the NCAA postseason. UT lost staff ace and lefthanded pitcher Dillon Peters to start the Road to Omaha, but no Peters, no problem, apparently. Senior righty Nathan Thornhill has been terrific, showing good poise, a fastball up to 92 and a good combination of a cutter and changeup. Meanwhile, vocal righty Parker French has risen to the occasion the past couple of weeks and given UT some terrific performances. The only question mark with UT's starting rotation is if it gets buried in the loser's bracket. UT has a couple of solid options in Chad Hollingsworth and Lukas Schiraldi. Hollingsworth is best known for shutting down Texas A&M to win the Houston Regional a few weeks ago.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: A

    If the Longhorns can establish a lead late into the game, chances are good it's night, night, for opposing teams. Righthanded pitcher John Curtiss has a big-time arm with a fastball up to 94, and has been terrific during the postseason, while the other arms in the bullpen know their roles, and do it well. Morgan Cooper (2.98), Ty Culbreth (1.98) and Travis Duke (0.34) all have been very consistent this season, with Cooper having the best overall stuff with a big-time changeup and fastball, that at times, can get up to 93-94 mph.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Tres Barrera (.292 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs)

    1B Kacy Clemens (.143 AVG, 1 RBI, .143 OBP)

    2B Brooks Marlow (.280 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs)

    SS C.J Hinojosa (.476 AVG, 2 2B, 6 RBIs, .500 OBP)

    3B Zane Gurwitz (.227 AVG, 1 2B, 1 stolen base)

    LF Ben Johnson (.200 AVG, 2 2B, 1 RBI)

    CF Mark Payton (.400 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 SBs, .556 OBP)

    RF Collin Shaw (.313 AVG, 4 RBIs, .381 OBP)

    DH Madison Carter (.273 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs)



    SP Nathan Thornhill (1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 10 K, 4 BB, .255 BAA)

    SP Parker French (1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, .239 BAA)

    SP Lukas Schiraldi (2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 4 BB, 2 K, .333 BAA)

    CL/RP John Curtiss (0.00 ERA, 3 appearances, 7 IP, 4 K, 1 BB, .087 BAA)



    UC IRVINE
    Record: 40-23

    Coach: Mike Gillespie (seventh season)

    CWS appearances: Two

    Drafted prospects: 3B Taylor Sparks (2nd round, Cincinnati), RHP Andrew Morales (Compensation round, St. Louis), 1B Connor Spencer (8th round, New York Yankees), SS Chris Rabago (13th round, Colorado), RHP Sam Moore (40th round, Los Angeles Dodgers)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: B+

    Throw away the regular season statistics when talking about the Anteaters. Though Irvine didn't tally amazing offensive numbers during the regular season, this lineup has been one tough challenge during the NCAA postseason. The Anteaters, much like Texas, have done a tremendous job of executing their offense, using bunts to put pressure on the defense, and doing pretty much anything else to try to bring runs across. With that, the 'Eaters have some big-time threats throughout the lineup, including Taylor Sparks and Connor Spencer, while seasoned catcher Jerry McClanahan is having a good postseason at the plate.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    The Anteaters have been very good throughout the NCAA postseason on the mound with righthanded pitcher Andrew Morales leading the way. Morales tossed a complete game shutout in the Stillwater Super Regional contest against Oklahoma State, can get up to 90-92 with his fastball and his good secondary stuff, while Elliott Surrey is a quality arm and Evan Brock will be fresh after not pitching in last weekend's action because it was a two-game series sweep. But the key to this pitching staff, plain and simple, is getting as many starts and innings out of Morales as possible.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: B-

    The Anteaters don't have an overwhelming bullpen, and it's interesting that righty Sam Moore only has pitched a 1/3 of an inning in the postseason. But plenty of guys have stepped up in the postseason. For instance, Evan Manarino has taken care of business in some big situations, while Jimmy Litchfield, Matt Fielding and Mitch Merten are other experienced arms to watch. UC Irvine doesn't have a Nick Burdi or John Curtiss type who can come out of the bullpen and completely overpower hitters, but it has made due with some quality arms.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Jerry McClanahan (.333 AVG, 5 RBIs, .545 OBP)

    1B Connor Spencer (.455 AVG, 3 2B, 6 RBIs, .519 OBP, 2 SBs)

    2B Grant Palmer (.091 AVG, 1 2B, .167 OBP)

    SS Chris Rabago (.176 AVG, 4 RBIs, .333 OBP)

    3B Taylor Sparks (.458 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, .519 OBP)

    LF Adam Alcantara (.176 AVG, 3 RBIs, .333 OBP)

    CF Justin Castro (.273 AVG, 1 2B, .333 OBP)

    RF Kris Paulino (.316 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, .632 SLG%)

    DH Jonathan Munoz (.130 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, .167 OBP)



    SP Andrew Morales (1.33 ERA, 20.1 IP, 17 K, 6 BB, .176 BAA)

    SP Elliot Surrey (1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 13 K, 6 BB, .170 BAA)

    SP Evan Brock (4.50 ERA, 8 IP, 4 K, 4 BB, .290 BAA)

    CL/RP Sam Moore (0.00 ERA, 0.1 IP, 1 BB, 0 K)


    VANDERBILT COMMODORES
    Record: 46-19

    Coach: Tim Corbin (12th season)

    CWS appearances: Two

    Drafted prospects: RHP Tyler Beede (1st round, San Francisco), RHP Adam Ravenelle (4th round, Detroit), SS Vince Conde (9th round, New York Yankees). LHP Jared Miller (11th round, Arizona), RHP Brian Miller (15th round, Tampa Bay)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: B+

    I really like what this Vanderbilt offensive lineup is capable of doing in Omaha. The Commodore seem to have all the pieces and balance needed to go the distance. Freshman Bryan Reynolds has been the ultimate spark plug and is hitting well over .500 in the postseason, while Dansby Swanson is an elite overall player who can make things happen at the plate. Zander Wiel has some power potential, while shortstop Vince Conde is a very good overall player, his batting average not completely indicative of his abilities. Vanderbilt won't scary you on the stat sheet, but don't let that fool you.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    The Commodores have one of the talented, if not the most talented starting rotation in this CWS field. However, inconsistency beyond Carson Fulmer has been an issue at times. First-round pick and righty Tyler Beede has big-time overall stuff with a fastball into the mid-90s and good secondary stuff, but command often is an issue. Walker Buehler is another big-time arm, but again, he's not always the sharpest. Fulmer, though, a converted reliever, has a big-time arm, an aggressive approach and has been a consistent component to this starting rotation. Fulmer has a quirky motion that's hard to figure out, and it wouldn't be too surprising to see him start the opening game in Omaha.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: B+

    Some might grade the Commodores a little lower when it comes to the bullpen, but I'm still high on this unit. Freshman Hayden Stone has been a big-time arm out of the pen, not allowing a run in six relief innings in the other NCAA postseason rounds, while righty Adam Ravenelle has a big-time arm and good stuff despite less than stellar postseason numbers in very limited innings of work Jared Miller, Brian Miller, and of course, power-armed starter turned reliever Tyler Ferguson, are other quality arms to watch. Overall, this is a very talented unit that's more than capable of cruising through the CWS.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Jason Delay (.250 AVG, 1 RBI, .438 OBP)

    1B Zander Wiel (.273, 1 2B, 6 RBIs, 3 SBs)

    2B Dansby Swanson (.320 AVG, 3 2B, 2 RBIs)

    SS Vince Conde (.273 AVG, 4 RBIs, .448 OBP, 2 SBs)

    3B Xavier Turner (.217 AVG, 1 2B, 7 RBIs, 2 SBs)

    LF Bryan Reynolds (.520 AVG, 3 2B, 8 RBIs, .552 OBP)

    CF John Norwood (.417 AVG, 2 2B, .462 OBP, 2-3 SBs)

    RF Rhett Wiseman (.375 AVG, 4 2Bs, 4 RBIs, .444 OBP)

    DH Ro Coleman (.222 AVG, 1 RBI)



    SP Tyler Beede (4.26 ERA, 12.2 IP, 16 K, 6 BB, .200 BAA)

    SP Carson Fulmer (3.77 ERA, 14.1 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, .196 BAA)

    SP Walker Buehler (3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 13 K, 1 BB, .283 BAA)

    CL/RP Hayden Stone (0.00 ERA, 1 APP, 6 IP, 8 K, 2 BB, .143 BAA)




    CWS PREVIEW: BRACKET TWO
    MISSISSIPPI
    Record: 46-19

    Coach: Mike Bianco (14th season)

    CWS appearances: Fifth

    Drafted prospects: RHP Chris Ellis (3rd round, LAA Angels), OF Auston Bousfield (5th round, San Diego), 3B Austin Anderson (9th round, Baltimore), RHP Josh Laxer (9th round, Detroit), OF Braxton Lee (12th round, Tampa Bay), C Will Allen (13th round, Detroit), RHP Hawtin Buchanan (20th round, Seattle), RHP Aaron Greenwood (28th round, Houston), LHP Christian Trent (29th round, Los Angeles Dodgers),



    OFFENSE

    Grade: A

    Pound for pound, the Rebels have the best offense in this CWS field. The Rebels are just solid all the way around one thru nine and have plenty of table setters atop the lineup with Austin Bousfield and others leading the way. Sikes Orvis is a big-time power producer, while Austin Anderson and Will Allen are productive, experienced, bats. Preston Overbey had some big hits in last weekend's NCAA Super Regional series against Louisiana-Lafayette, while freshmen J.B. Woodman and Errol Robinson are capable of big showings, with Braxton Lee a very athletic player to watch.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    I really like this Ole Miss weekend rotation. Yes, righthanded pitcher Chris Ellis had a tough start against ULL last weekend, mainly because of his faulty command, but he's still an elite arm who can sit 91-94 with two good secondary pitchers. Christian Trent is a talented lefty who showed an impressive ability to move down and elevate in the strike zone against the Cajuns last weekend, while veteran righty Sam Smith is just a guy who will battle his tail off and pound the strike zone in the process. Experience is aplenty with this talented trio of arms.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: B+

    Here's arguably the most underrated aspect of this club. The Rebels have some very good options out of the bullpen entering the CWS. Scott Weathersby and Aaron Greenwood pound the zone and have been consistent the entire season, while hard-throwing Josh Laxer was dominant against ULL last weekend. Wyatt Short, Jeremy Massie, and others, also are worth watching in Omaha. Overall, I really like this group.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Will Allen (.280 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs)

    1B Sikes Orvis (.333 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, .810 SLG%)

    2B Preston Overbey (.412 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, .524 OBP)

    SS Errol Robinson (.174 AVG, 3 RBIs, .208 OBP)

    3B Austin Anderson (.348 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, .464 OBP)

    LF Braxton Lee (.273 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs)

    CF Auston Bousfield (.346 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, SB)

    RF J.B. Woodman (.158 AVG, 1 2B, 3 RBIs, .261 OBP)

    DH Colby Bortles (.385 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)



    SP Chris Ellis (4.76 ERA, 11.1 IP, 10 K, 6 BB, .220 BAA)

    SP Christian Trent (0.68 ERA, 13.1 IP, 13 K, 3 BB, .191 BAA)

    SP Sam Smith (2.16 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, .353 BAA)

    CL/RHP Aaron Greenwood (1.93 ERA, 2 APPS, 4.2 IP, 6 K, 2 BB, .188 BAA)


    TEXAS CHRISTIAN
    Record: 47-16

    Coach: Jim Schlossnagle (11th season)

    CWS appearances: Two

    Drafted prospects: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1st round, Kansas City), RHP Jordan Kipper (9th round, Angels), 1B Kevin Cron (14th round, Arizona), C Kyle Bacak (25th round, Washington), OF Jerrick Suiter (26th round, Pittsburgh), OF Cody Jones (38th round, Cleveland)


    OFFENSE

    Grade: B

    The Horned Frogs don't have a highly explosive offensive lineup, but certainly have the ability to score some runs. There's some versatility with this lineup, too. Catcher Kyle Bacak caught everyone's attention last weekend against Pepperdine by dropping down a squeeze bunt, while Dylan Fitzgerald and athletic Boomer White are consistent threats, with Fitzgerald having a little pop in his bat. The X-factor in this CWS could be first baseman Kevin Cron. Cron hasn't had a great campaign, but is hitting .296 in the postseason with an OBP over .400. Cron having a big showing in Omaha could be the difference for this offense.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: A+

    What an outstanding collection of arms the Horned Frogs have in this College World Series. Lefthanded pitcher Brandon Finnegan has big-time stuff with a fastball anywhere from 92-95, along with a wipeout slider, while righthanded pitcher Preston Morrison just hammers the strike zone with immaculate command, and freshman lefty Tyler Alexander is a premium arm. Alexander will sit anywhere from 88-92 with his fastball, and has very good command of the zone as a young arm.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: A

    The Frogs haven't had to rely too much on their bullpen this season, but when they do, it usually ends with good results. TCU sophomore righthanded pitcher Riley Ferrell leads the pitching staff. Ferrell has a huge arm with a 95-98 fastball to go with an upper-80s slider, while Trey Teakell and Alex Young have made appearances in the postseason. Also keep an eye on Brian Trieglaff, Travis Evans and Jordan Kipper.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Kyle Bacak (.333 AVG, 2 RBIs, .500 OBP)

    1B Kevin Cron (.296 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, .406 OBP)

    2B Garrett Crain (.308 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 SBs)

    SS Keaton Jones (.296 AVG, 2 SBs)

    3B Derek Odell (.167 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs)

    LF Boomer White (.258 AVG, 1 2B, 5 RBIs)

    CF Cody Jones (.200 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 SBs)

    RF Dylan Fitzgerald (.276 AVG, 2 2B, 2 RBIs)

    DH Jerrick Suiter (.240 AVG, 3 RBIs, SB)



    SP Brandon Finnegan (1.98 ERA, 13.2 IP, 19 K, 3 BB, .152 BAA)

    SP Preston Morrison (1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 9 K, 5 BB, .174 BAA)

    SP Tyler Alexander (3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, .267 BAA)

    CL/RP Riley Ferrell (0.00 ERA, 4 APPS, 7.1 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, .050 BAA)


    TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
    Record: 45-19

    Coach: Tim Tadlock (2nd season)

    CWS appearances: First

    Drafted prospects: LHP Chris Sadberry (6th round, Miami), C Hunter Redman (8th round, Los Angeles Dodgers), SS Tim Proudfoot (21st round, Oakland), RHP Dominic Moreno (33rd round, St. Louis)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: C+

    Anyone looking for a constant stream of fireworks from the Red Raiders in the offensive category might be disappointed in Omaha. Then again, perhaps the Red Raiders, after scoring two runs in two games against College of Charleston last weekend, will breakout in Omaha. Either way, despite some unimpressive offensive numbers in the postseason, Tech has some quality bats to watch. Eric Gutierrez and Tim Proudfoot are consistent and key leaders, while Adam Kirsch and Tyler Neslony both are guys with some pop in their bats. I'd also keep a very close eye on second baseman Bryant Burleson. Burleson is a seasoned player with a good skill set, and could be due for a big showing after hitting .043 in the first two rounds of the NCAA postseason.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    The Red Raiders might not have any household names in the weekend rotation, but that doesn't mean anything. Lefthanded pitcher Chris Sadberry has been terrific in the postseason with two quality starts and even a relief appearance. Sadberry has a fastball anywhere from 89-92 with good overall stuff, while freshman Dylan Dusek has been terrific with no runs allowed in 13 innings. The Red Raiders didn't have to use a third starter last weekend against Charleston, but Cameron Smith and Ryan Moseley are both seasoned and talented arms capable of putting together a good start in Omaha.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: B

    Tech doesn't necessarily possess an overwhelming bullpen, but does have several quality arms to watch throughout the College World Series. For instance, Jonny Drozd has a big-time arm and a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings, while Cameron Smith and Ryan Moseley (if they don't start) can come out of the bullpen and give some quality innings. Corey Taylor, who has a 2.62 ERA in 20 appearances and 48 innings, is another good arm to watch after he stepped up in the Coral Gables Regional a couple of weeks ago. The good thing about Tech's bullpen? It's very fresh after last weekend.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Hunter Redman (.176 AVG, .176 OBP)

    1B Eric Gutierrez (.300 AVG, 3 2B, 2 RBIs, .333 OBP)

    2B Bryant Burleson (.043 AVG, 1 2B, .120 OBP)

    SS Tim Proudfoot (.353 AVG, 1 RBI, .476 OBP)

    3B Ryan Long (.150 AVG, 1 RBI)

    LF Tyler Neslony (.238 AVG, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 4 BB/3 K)

    CF Devon Conley (.176 AVG, .263 OBP)

    RF Stephen Smith (.200 AVG, .304 OBP)

    DH Adam Kirsch (.294 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, .478 OBP)



    SP Chris Sadberry (1.80 ERA, 15 IP, 13 K, 4 BB, .204 BAA)

    SP Dylan Dusek (0.00 ERA, 13 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, .152 BAA)

    SP Ryan Moseley (0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 6 K, 4 BB, .105 BAA)

    CL/RP Jonny Drozd (1.00 ERA, 4 APPS, 9 IP, 4 K, 0 BB, .152 BAA)


    VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
    Record: 49-14

    Coach: Brian O'Connor (11th season)

    CWS appearances: Three

    Drafted prospects: RHP Nick Howard (1st round, Cincinnati), OF Derek Fisher (Compensation A, Houston), OF Mike Papi (Compensation A, Cleveland), OF Brandon Downes (7th round, Kansas City), SS Branden Cogswell (7th round, Oakland), RHP Artie Lewicki (8th round, Detroit), RHP Whit Mayberry (21st round, Detroit), C Nate Irving (34th round, Arizona)



    OFFENSE

    Grade: B+

    Some would say we're giving the Cavaliers a generous grade considering what they've done most of the season, but consider this: Virginia is hitting .316 in the NCAA postseason, meaning it has gotten hot at exactly the right time. The Cavaliers have a talented lineup one through nine with first baseman Mike Papi leading the way with a .480 batting average. The athletic and talented outfielder trio of Derek Fisher, Joe McCarthy and Brandon Downes can make things go, while infielders Kenny Towns, Branden Cogswell and Daniel Pinero are capable of having strong showings in Omaha, with Towns stepping up in a big way against the Terps last weekend.



    STARTING PITCHING

    Grade: B+

    I really like the way the Cavaliers stack up from a starting pitching standpoint entering the weekend. Sophomore lefthanded pitcher Nathan Kirby is a premium arm with a fastball anywhere from 90-94 with good secondary stuff, while lefty Brandon Waddell will touch 90-92, but focuses strongly on his often plus changeup. Meanwhile, righthanded pitcher Josh Sborz caught my attention last weekend with a strong showing against Maryland. Sborz has a huge arm with a fastball up to 94-95, but command is an issue at times. It was not against the Terps last weekend.



    BULLPEN

    Grade: B+

    You're going to get a mixed bag of feelings from me about the Virginia bullpen. For starters, the Cavaliers get a very high grade for simply having a shutdown closer in righthanded pitcher Nick Howard. Howard will touch 97-98 on the radar gun with a wipeout breaking ball, while Whit Mayberry is a quality, experienced, option, and Artie Lewicki can come out of the bullpen. Meanwhile, Austin Young and Connor Jones are other talented arms to watch. Coaches around the country are very open with the fact they feel very confident if you can get deep into the Virginia bullpen. Therefore, the Cavaliers must avoid that in Omaha.



    PROJECTED LINEUP/ROTATION

    * NCAA tournament stats only

    C Robbie Coman (.143 AVG, .400 OBP)

    1B Mike Papi (.480 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, .552 OBP)

    2B Branden Cogswell (.269 AVG, 1 2B, 5 RBIs)

    SS Daniel Pinero (.280 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs)

    3B Kenny Towns (.370 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBIs, .393 OBP)

    LF Derek Fisher (.292 AVG, 9 RBIs)

    CF Brandon Downes (.364 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs, .440 OBP)

    RF Joe McCarthy (.304, 2 RBIs, .448 OBP)

    DH John La Prise (.375, 3 RBIs, .423 OBP)



    SP Nathan Kirby (3.55 ERA, 12.2 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, .190 BAA)

    SP Brandon Waddell (2.19 ERA, 12.1 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, .286 BAA)

    SP Josh Sborz (0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 9 K, 3 BB, .174 BAA)

    CL/RP Nick Howard (0.00 ERA, 2 APPS, 2.1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, .250 BAA)

    PG: 2014 College World Series preview
     
  5. HuskerFan31

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    ESPN: It's all or nothing at all in the CWS

    The field is set, the lines are chalked and the teams are here at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha ready to rumble for the next 10 to 11 days as we search for a national champion.

    As the past few years have shown, trying to predict a winner is impossible. Both UCLA and Mississippi State last year were far from the best teams in their respective conferences, yet got hot at just the right time and rode that momentum to the championship series in the second week. Two years ago, we saw Kent State eliminate No. 1-ranked Florida. And, of course, we are just six years removed foam Fresno State coming in as a 4-seed and making everyone wonder if what just happened really happened.

    In this age of parity, every team has reason to believe it can win the big, brass ring. But at the same time, every team also has a soft underbelly that makes it vulnerable. Here is how this year's field of eight stacks up in the goods and bads department as we head toward first pitch.

    UC Irvine (40-23)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Keep playing fearlessly: The Anteaters were a team on a mission, unencumbered by playing a super regional at Oklahoma State. They executed their game plan to perfection and put the right amount of pressure on the Cowboys.

    Big performances from their stars: First baseman Connor Spencer (.370) and third baseman Taylor Sparks (.307-5-34) must continue to clean up the basepaths and set a contagious tone for the offense. Also, leadoff hitters will help key the offense all week.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    The freak-out factor: This is obviously new territory for the Anteaters, who haven't been in Omaha since 2007. If they get wowed by the big stage and play tentative, it'll be a short trip.

    If the offense turtles up again: The Eaters are a light-hitting team with a team average of .272. They score just 4.4 runs per game, and they put up just nine runs in their six-game skid to end the regular season. If those weak sticks return this week, it'll be all she wrote.

    Texas (43-19)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Small-balling it: No big surprise here, UT leads the nation in sac bunts with 96. Although they'll be facing another small-ball team in UCI (checking in at No. 2 nationally with 88 sac bunts), if the Horns make a deep run, it'll be because their fundamental play is clicking.

    The pitching, of course: Though the Longhorns have a team ERA of 2.32, they've cranked things up in the postseason with a team ERA of 1.15. It's a no-brainer. When the Horns' pitchers are dealing, they won't get beat.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    Live by the sword, die by the sword: The Longhorns will face a team that mirrors their style of play exactly in UC Irvine, who also has a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Gillespie. There will be pressure to execute with perfection and not turn this into a dose of their own medicine.

    If the crowd plays a role: Although Omahans have long been Augie Garrido fans, Texas isn't well revered in the Cornhusker State. If the fans get charged up against the Horns, momentum will swing to UCI's, Louisville's or Vanderbilt's side.

    Vanderbilt (46-19)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Play to the talent level: It's pretty simple for the Commodores, who are probably the most talented team in the field. If they continue to swing it well (8 runs per game in NCAA tournament play) and don't get in trouble early, a title run is imminent.

    Somebody new must step up each game: This team is so talent-laden, even when Dansby Swanson, Bryan Reynolds or Vince Conde has an off day, somebody will step in and make the big hit -- like Ro Coleman did versus Oregon or John Norwood versus Stanford. That's got to be a comforting factor for coach Tim Corbin.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    If they get walk-happy: The one thing about a lot of these multitalented pitchers the Dores throw out there is they have a knack for issuing free passes. Doing that against steal-happy Louisville, patient-as-can-be Texas or UCI will be deadly.

    Get out of their element: No team faces a bigger challenge defensively than the Commodores do this week. The West Coast style of play which both UCI and Texas use can wear a team down and the speed game of Louisville can wear a team out. VU hasn't dealt with these kind of teams too often this season.

    Louisville (50-15)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Use last year as a learning experience: We've seen it plenty of times before: A team goes to Omaha one year and loses quickly, then comes back the next year and goes on a run (Oregon State 2005 and 2006). After going two-and-out last season, expect a much more business-like Cardinals team this time around.

    Stay unbeaten: Yes, that's obvious, but the Cards are the only ones still unbeaten in the NCAA tournament so far, going 5-0 through the first two weekends. Here's a hint: Each of the past three national champions have gone 10-0 through the postseason. Good omen.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    Go to the bullpen early: The Ville has some talented arms, but without starter Jared Ruxer, who suffered a late-season injury, the Cardinals can ill-afford to burn up arms in the bullpen. The starters must go long and be efficient. That first trip to the losers' bracket could be costly.

    The offense goes stagnant: UofL is 39-0 when scoring five or more runs. But put these guys in a low-scoring, tight battle and they are just 11-15. Everybody can claim a need to score early and get ahead as a key, but in the Cards' case, it really is vital.

    Texas Tech (45-19)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Keep pitching like they have been: The Raiders may not be in the top 25 of team ERA like the rest of the field, but they gave up just 10 hits in two super-regional shutouts of College of Charleston. They also posted two shutouts against a dangerous Miami team in the regionals.

    The chip on their shoulders: As you might've seen, the Red Raiders have an aura about them that they don't care who you are, they're going to shut you down. They didn't get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and they've used that as motivation.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    They get in a rut: Tech actually lost back-to-back games seven times this season. So they've shown a lack of clutch from time to time already.

    The bats stay cold: You can't rely on beating everybody 1-0, like they did twice versus Charleston. TD Ameritrade Park is a tough place to hit already, so a cold batting order would sound a death knell to Double-T's chances here.

    TCU (47-16)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Keep the clamps on: If pitchers Brandon Finnegan and Preston Morrison are stout, a 2-0 start is easily attainable, both here and in the title series next week. The Frogs have posted 14 shutouts this year and have held their opponents under two runs 41 times.

    Spark a little fire: With possibly the deepest pitching staff in the field of eight, as long as they hit a little bit better than their .283 average, you have to like the Horned Frogs' chances.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    Get behind early: The Frogs have a knack of getting in ruts and staying there. The win-loss mark when trailing after six innings is just 3-13. So if they get down early, it's trouble.

    Run themselves out of innings: Coach Jim Schlossnagle likes to be aggressive on the basepaths, but the Frogs have also been thrown out 37 times when trying to steal and were nabbed a handful of times versus Pepperdine.

    Virginia (49-14)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Nathan Kirby has three quality starts: Friday ace Nathan Kirby had one of his worst outings in the Maryland opener, going just 4.2 innings and giving up five runs. Before that? He threw eight shutout innings versus Arkansas. If he throws BBs like that a couple of more times, it's the Hoos' title to lose.

    Better at-bats from the bottom: The Cavaliers are full of big-hit potential. But some of the guys lower in the order need to pick it up. If Brandon Downes (.233), Daniel Pinero (.266) and Nate Irving (.236) can get hot, this offense will be hard to stop.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    Opponents' aggressive hitting: It seemed like when Maryland jumped on early pitches, the Terrapins had more success. So if opponents can get hits early in counts, the Cavs are beatable.

    A poor mindset: There's a bit of pressure on UVa, being the highest ranked team remaining and also having three first-round draft picks in Nick Howard (19th overall), Derek Fisher (37th) and Mike Papi (38th). Seemingly, the only thing that could stop these guys is if they aren't focused on the task at hand.

    Ole Miss (46-19)

    HOW TO WIN IT ALL
    Keep the edge: Nobody had a tougher super-regional assignment than the Rebels did, going to Louisiana-Lafayette and winning in that zoo-like atmosphere. So the Rebs are battle-tested like no one else, which should help when the pressure is on.

    The bullpen must stay hot: Scott Weathersby and Josh Laxer came up huge for the Rebels in the supers. Aaron Greenwood and Preston Tarkington also have sub 2.00 ERAs in their 39 combined appearances. If Chris Ellis (10-2, 2.45) and Christian Trent (9-0, 2.21) should falter, there are plenty of back-end arms to help them out.

    HOW TO GO 0-2
    Become the kings of pop: Ole Miss has the most raw power in the field of eight. But anything that is hit in the air at TD Ameritrade just dies on the warning track. So if they get pop-up happy, the offense will suffer.

    No shootouts: The Rebels must put the clamps on teams early and often. When opponents have scored six runs or more, the Rebels are just 2-10 this year. Conversely, the Rebs are 29-4 when they score six or more.


    CWS Schedule & Scores
    All times p.m. ET.

    College World Series

    CWS scoreboard

    Saturday, June 14
    3: UC Irvine vs. Texas (ESPN2)
    8: Louisville vs. Vanderbilt (ESPN2)

    Sunday, June 15
    3: Texas Tech vs. TCU (ESPN2)
    8: Ole Miss vs. Virginia (ESPN2)

    Monday, June 16
    3: Game 5 (ESPN2)
    8: Game 6 (ESPN2)

    Tuesday, June 17
    3: Game 7 (ESPN2)
    8: Game 8 (ESPN)

    Wednesday, June 18
    8: Game 9 (ESPN)

    Thursday, June 19
    8: Game 10 (ESPN)

    Friday, June 20
    3: Game 11 (ESPNU)
    8: Game 12 (ESPN)

    Saturday, June 21
    3: Game 13 (if necessary) (ESPN2)
    8: Game 14 (if necessary) (ESPN)

    Monday, June 23
    8: CWS finals: Game 1 (ESPN)

    Tuesday, June 24
    8: CWS finals: Game 2 (ESPN)

    Wednesday, June 25
    8: CWS finals: Game 3 (if necessary) (ESPN)

    Eight players to key an eye on
    UC Irvine RHP Sam Moore
    The nation's leader in saves with 23, Moore has been a little shaky down the stretch, not getting a save in his past four appearances.

    Texas OF Mark Payton
    The Longhorn All-American has a streak of 101 consecutive games of getting on base. To put that in perspective, the MLB record is 84 by Ted Williams in 1949.

    Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer
    Despite an underwhelming effort versus Stanford, this big gun No. 2 starter is the one who can win the Commodores' way into the title round and into the national championship with his lockdown ability.

    Louisville RHP Nick Burdi
    Any lead going into the eighth inning for the red & black is a near certainty with this 100 mph-flinging righty manning the bump. Burdi was taken in the second round by the Twins in the recent MLB draft.

    Texas Tech SS Tim Proudfoot
    An energizing force for the Raiders, Proudfoot hits .317 and teams with second baseman Bryant Burleson to form the best double-play combo in Omaha this week.

    TCU RHP Riley Ferrell
    Already with four saves in the postseason, Ferrell has been nearly unhittable. If Preston Morrison and Brandon Finnegan can go seven innings, the Frogs are a sure bet with Ferrell behind them.

    Virginia 1B/DH/RHP Nick Howard
    Opponents would be wise to not get behind these guys. Howard's 98 mph heater on the mound late in games has been a sure thing nearly all season, so late-game leads are safe.

    Ole Miss 1B Sikes Orvis
    Pardon the Mississippi State reference here, but he is this year's Wes Rea. He doesn't have the best batting average (.295) but his 14 home runs and 36 walks lead the team and make him a tough out.

    ESPN: It's all or nothing at all in the CWS
     
  6. HuskerFan31

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    2014 NCBWA ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS

    DALLAS ? The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association 19th annual Division I All-America baseball squads (first, second and third teams) again features a cavalcade of the nation's elite players in 2014.

    The balance in the talent on each of these three teams again indicates the close competition among 302 DI schools for the coveted eight places in the June 14-25 NCAA World Series starting Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.

    In fact, the All-America team is represented by 39 different teams and 17 conferences. There are 23 Division I circuit players or pitchers of the year on the three units, and 10 standouts who led their teams to NCAA Super Regionals and/or the '14 NCAA World Series.

    Some of the more notable names among the group are Kentucky P-DH-1B A.J. Reed, who leads the nation with 23 home runs, added 70 RBIs, had a 12-2 pitching record, and was among the Southeastern Conference leaders in as many as nine statistical categories. He is a finalist for the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy as the NCAA Division I player of the year.

    Fellow finalists Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto (.345 average, seven home runs, 56 RBIs), LSU pitcher Aaron Nola (11-1 record, 1.47 earned run average, 134 strikeouts in 116-plus innings pitched), Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost (led all DI catchers in batting average at .418 and helped KSU advance to its first Super Regional), and Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler (12-1, 0.78 ERA, 78 strikeouts) were the top vote recipients in the last of two ballots cast by the NCBWA membership.

    Some of the other stars from the first unit are Tennessee Tech OF Brandon Thomasson (22 homers), North Florida OF Drew Weeks (A-A and NCAA topping .430 batting average, Pentecost is second nationally in BA), and fellow starting pitchers Blake Fox (12-0) of Rice, Casey Bloomquist (12-2) of Cal Poly and Jace Fry (11-2), among others.

    The five starting hurlers on the first squad were a combined 58-6, while the three relief aces, all candidates for Saturday's NCBWA Stopper of the Year, registered a composite 60 saves. Louisville's Nick Burdi and UC Irvine's Sam Moore from this group pitched their respective teams to 2014 CWS berths.

    The 2014 All-America team announcement precedes the presentation of the 28th annual Dick Howser Trophy at a national news conference Saturday at 10 a.m. (CDT) at TD Ameritrade Park. The NCBWA also will denote the 2014 DI Coach of the Year and the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Awards at this conference and will honor longtime NCAA championships administrator and Di Baseball World Series media coordinator J.D. Hamilton with the coveted Wilbur Snypp Award for contributions to college baseball.

    The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser permanently displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the 2008 American League champion, Tampa Bay Rays. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy for keepsakes.

    NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.

    The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J.D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, Southern California, 2001; Khalil Greene, Clemson, 2002; Rickey Weeks, Southern, 2003; Jered Weaver, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, Nebraska, 2005; Brad Lincoln, Houston, 2006; David Price, Vanderbilt, 2007; Buster Posey, Florida State, 2008; Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State, 2009; Anthony Rendon, Rice, 2010, Taylor Jungmann, Texas, 2011, Mike Zunino, Florida, 2012 and Kris Bryant, San Diego, 2013.

    FIRST TEAM (Statistics Through June 11)
    Pos. Name, School, Class Avg. G AB R H 2B-3B-HR RBIs BB SO SB/SBA
    *C Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State, Jr. .418 63 263 59 110 23-2-9 58 30 26 17/19
    *1B Casey Gillaspie, Wichita State, Jr. .389 59 211 50 82 15-1-15 50 58 28 8/8
    *2B Jace Conrad, UL Lafayette, Jr. .364 68 264 63 96 20-3-9 65 18 27 22/26
    3B Daniel Miles, Tennessee Tech, Sr. .380 58 237 67 90 17-1-11 54 39 21 5/7
    SS Trea Turner, NC State, Jr. .321 54 215 65 69 12-3-8 36 37 25 26/30
    *OF Michael Conforto, Oregon State, Jr. .345 59 203 52 70 16-2-7 56 55 38 4/8
    *OF Michael Katz, William & Mary, Jr. .363 56 240 64 87 24-1-14 75 32 43 0/1
    OF Brandon Thomasson, Tenn. Tech, Sr. .336 58 244 60 82 20-4-22 76 22 45 2/3
    OF Drew Weeks, North Florida, Jr. .430 53 221 52 95 13-4-6 38 18 20 10/14
    DH Derek Gibson, Southeast Mo. St, Sr. .403 57 226 42 91 12-4-6 70 16 19 9/10
    *UT A.J. Reed, Kentucky, Jr. .336 62 223 60 75 18-1-23 73 49 48 0/1
    12-2, 2.09 ERA, 16 APP, 16GS, 1CG, 0/1SHO, 112.0IP, 98H, 39R, 26ER, 29BB, 71K, .236 OPP BA

    Pos. Name School W-L ERA APP GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER BB SO OPP BA
    ^SP Aaron Nola, LSU, Jr. 11-1 1.47 16 16 2 1/6 0 116.1 69 19 19 27 134 .172
    SP Ben Wetzler, Oregon State, Sr. 12-1 0.78 14 13 4 2/2 0 104.0 49 12 9 31 83 .143
    SP Blake Fox, Rice, So. 12-0 1.46 15 15 0 0/4 0 104.2 88 17 17 27 69 .236
    SP Casey Bloomquist, Cal Poly, So. 12-2 1.56 16 14 2 1/1 1 98.0 87 21 17 20 74 .243
    ^SP Jace Fry, Oregon State, Jr. 11-2 1.80 16 16 4 4/1 0 120.1 83 29 24 39 98 .196
    RP Brendan McCurry, Oklahoma State, Sr. 5-0 0.38 35 0 0 0/3 19 47.1 29 2 2 8 54 .178
    RP Nick Burdi, Louisville, Jr. 3-1 0.51 30 0 0 0/3 18 35.1 17 4 2 10 62 .133
    RP Sam Moore, UC Irvine, Jr. 0-3 1.88 31 0 0 0/3 23 43.0 35 10 9 10 38 .223

    SECOND TEAM
    Pos. Name, School, Class Avg. G AB R H 2B-3B-HR RBIs BB SO SB/SBA
    C Kyle Schwarber, Indiana, Jr. .358 59 232 66 83 16-6-14 48 44 30 10/13
    *1B Matt Tellor, Southeast Missouri St., Sr. .386 57 233 60 90 18-0-15 71 30 26 2/4
    *2B Ryan Seiz, Liberty, Jr. .351 59 231 55 81 16-2-12 43 28 52 0/1
    3B Dustin DeMuth, Indiana, Sr. .374 57 211 40 79 16-1-5 40 20 40 4/9
    SS Dylan Bosheers, Tennessee Tech, Jr. .368 59 234 66 86 14-1-11 56 27 32 8/12
    *OF DJ Stewart, Florida State, So. .351 53 194 45 68 19-0-7 50 40 30 4/5
    OF Caleb Adams, UL Lafayette, Jr. .381 67 223 67 85 18-7-11 42 46 60 7/13
    *OF Jeff Gardner, Louisville, Sr. .321 63 234 37 75 20-2-9 68 22 42 2/3
    OF Chase Harris, New Mexico, Sr. .377 58 247 46 93 11-5-8 63 17 27 13/20
    DH Bryan Soloman, Eastern Kentucky, Sr. .344 54 209 39 72 12-1-14 55 12 35 1/3
    ^UT Aaron Brown, Pepperdine, Jr. .314 61 242 44 76 13-3-13 49 9 52 5/8
    13-1, 1.95 ERA, 17 APP, 17GS, 1 CG, 1/2 SHO, 115.2 IP, 84H, 29R, 25ER, 40BB, 104K, .212 OPP BA

    Pos. Name School W-L ERA APP GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER BB SO OPP BA
    SP Brandon Finnegan, TCU, Jr. 9-3 2.12 16 16 1 0/4 0 97.2 70 24 23 27 129 .202
    ^SP Nathan Kirby, Virginia, So. 9-2 1.73 16 16 1 1/2 0 104.0 65 25 20 25 104 .182
    SP Matt Imhoff, Cal Poly, Jr. 10-4 2.45 15 15 1 1/3 0 99.1 65 32 27 43 124 .195
    SP Kyle Funkhouser, Louisville, So. 13-2 1.73 17 17 0 0/4 0 114.1 79 29 22 59 117 .198
    ^SP Joey DeNato, Indiana, Sr. 13-1 1.82 17 16 0 0/4 0 109.0 91 26 22 39 81 .236
    ^SP Preston Morrison, TCU, Jr. 9-4 1.32 17 17 5 3/2 0 122.1 85 24 18 19 85 .197
    RP Michael Cederoth, San Diego State, Jr. 6-2 2.28 32 1 0 0/2 20 51.1 36 19 13 28 55 .205
    RP Jacob Lindgren, Mississippi State, Jr. 6-1 0.81 26 0 0 0/3 3 55.1 23 9 5 25 100 .124
    RP Joel Seddon, South Carolina, Jr. 3-2 1.66 27 1 0 0/5 14 48.2 37 10 9 12 59 .213

    THIRD TEAM
    Pos. Name, School, Class Avg. G AB R H 2B-3B-HR RBIs BB SO SB/SBA
    C Will Allen, Ole Miss, Sr. .345 65 261 42 90 23-0-7 61 15 40 0/1
    *1B Connor Joe, San Diego, Jr. .367 53 218 59 80 21-2-9 51 32 24 3/6
    *2B Mark Mathias, Cal Poly, So. .386 58 210 48 81 14-1-2 39 23 18 12/16
    3B Scott Schaub, Jacksonville, Sr. .407 47 172 23 70 7-3-1 47 24 19 9/10
    SS Michael Russell, North Carolina, Jr. .339 60 230 43 78 20-2-4 32 29 27 13/18
    OF Auston Bousfield, Ole Miss, Jr. .349 65 275 58 96 18-2-6 50 16 25 17/18
    *OF Casey Jones, Elon, Jr. .418 53 196 42 82 20-4-7 53 36 40 11/14
    OF Bradley Zimmer, San Francisco, Jr. .368 54 220 42 81 10-7-7 31 31 34 21/32
    OF Chase Raffield, Georgia State, Sr. .356 56 205 44 73 19-0-14 59 27 29 7/10
    DH Blaise Salter, Michigan State, Jr. .317 57 221 34 70 22-0-5 50 17 27 0/2
    UT Louie Lechich, San Diego, Sr. .342 53 225 45 77 18-3-7 46 16 30 3/7
    8-3, 2.51 ERA, 13 APP, 13 GS, 1 CG, 1/3 SHO, 82.1 IP, 82H, 25R, 23ER, 21BB, 50K, .265 OPP BA

    Pos. Name School W-L ERA APP GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER BB SO B/Avg.
    ^SP Kyle Freeland, Evansville, Jr. 10-2 1.90 14 14 2 1/2 0 99.2 79 29 21 13 128 .214
    ^SP Michael Murray, Florida Gulf Coast, So. 13-1 1.85 15 15 2 1/2 0 107.0 92 30 22 14 79 .229
    ^SP Andrew Morales, UC Irvine, Jr. 11-2 1.53 18 18 3 3/1 0 129.2 83 26 33 30 136 .182
    ^SP Sam Street, Texas-Pan American, Sr. 12-2 1.81 15 15 11 1/0 0 129.1 104 33 26 25 91 .217
    SP Tyler Davis, Washington, Jr. 11-2 1.60 17 15 1 1/2 1 106.2 88 22 19 15 62 .232
    SP Thomas Eshelman, Cal State Fullerton, So. 8-3 1.89 16 16 5 2/1 0 123.2 100 32 26 8 99 .222
    RP Bryan Garcia, Miami, Fla., Fr. 7-4 1.75 31 0 0 0/1 15 51.1 40 12 10 19 56 .220
    RP Riley Ferrell, TCU, So. 2-1 0.68 29 0 0 0/5 15 39.2 16 4 3 13 64 .124
    RP Ryan Thompson, Campbell, Jr. 7-2 1.33 39 0 0 0 17 88.0 71 21 13 29 87 .219
    RP Ryan Williams, East Carolina, Sr. 11-3 1.81 32 0 0 0 7 99.2 88 27 20 11 76 .236

    *-Conference player of the year
    ^-Conference pitcher of the year

    2014 NCBWA ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS
     
  7. HuskerFan31

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    2014 NCBWA NATIONAL FRESHMAN HITTER AND PITCHER OF THE YEAR

    LYNCHBURG, VA. (NCBWA) ? University of Miami catcher Zach Collins and College of Charleston right-handed pitcher Bailey Ober have been named the 2014 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Freshman Hitter and Pitcher of the Year recipients, as announced by the organization today.

    Collins posted a .298 batting average with 54 RBIs and 32 runs scored for the Miami Hurricanes this season. In 61 games, the catcher collected 14 doubles and hit 11 home runs to record a .556 slugging percentage. In addition, he finished with a .427 on base percentage and tied for the team-lead with 114 total bases.
    Starting 58 games, the Pembroke Pines, Fla., native was named the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year, helping the Hurricanes record a 44-19 mark and capture the ACC Coastal Division title. The Hurricanes finished the year ranked No. 22 in the latest NCBWA Weekly Poll.

    Collins led the ACC in RBI, while tying for the conference lead in home runs. The catcher also was listed among the ACC leaders in slugging percentage (2nd), on-base percentage (9th) and total bases (2nd). An All-ACC third team selection, Collins was named to NCBWA Freshman All-America first team and to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

    Ober led the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and ranked 16th nationally with a 1.52 ERA over a team-leading 106.2 innings during his first collegiate season at College of Charleston. The right-hander completed the year with a 10-3 record over 17 appearances. He struck out 85 and walked 19, holding opponent batters to a .192 batting average. In addition, he pitched two complete games and a shutout and did not allow more than three runs in any of his 14 starts in 2014.

    The Huntersville, N.C., native finished the year with a .862 WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched), which leads all freshman pitchers and is currently the seventh best in the country. Ober also led the CAA in ERA and opponent batting average, while pitching the second most innings in the conference. The right-hander's 2014 ERA ranks third on the College of Charleston all-time list.

    Ober was named the 2014 CAA Rookie of the Year and the CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, helping College of Charleston post a 41-19 record and claim the NCAA Gainesville, Fla., Regional title. The Cougars finished their year ranked No. 16 in the latest NCBWA poll.

    An All-CAA first team member, Ober was named to the NCBWA Freshman All-America first team and to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

    2014 NCBWA NATIONAL FRESHMAN HITTER AND PITCHER
     

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