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College : : Story
Preview: Columbia/Charlottesville
Published: Friday, June 01, 2012

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NOTE: Regional previews are paired up in twos by Super Regional pairing.


COLUMBIA REGIONAL


THE TEAMS
1. South Carolina (40-17) -- Southeastern Conference
2. Clemson (33-26) -- Atlantic Coast Conference
3. Coastal Carolina (41-17) -- Big South Conference
4. Manhattan (33-25) -- Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference


The favorite: South Carolina
Top pitcher: LHP Michael Roth, South Carolina
Top hitter: 3B Richie Shaffer, Clemson
Top prospect, 2012 draft: 3B Richie Shaffer, Clemson


The Gamecocks aren't a great offensive team, but have made some progress down the stretch this season. First baseman Christian Walker leads the way at the plate, hitting .328 with 10 homers and 51 RBIs. Meanwhile, outfielder Tanner English is hitting .309 with 19 RBIs, while third baseman LB Dantzler is only hitting .253, but has nine homers and 43 RBIs. It'll be interesting to see which South Carolina offense shows up this weekend ... Pitching-wise, the Gamecocks are a little battered/bruised right now, but have a fantastic ace in left-handed hurler Michael Roth, who has a 2.58 ERA in 101 innings. Meanwhile, Colby Holmes hopes to return to normal form after being a few ticks off his fastball last week. He has a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings, while Forrest Koumas (4.56) could be on the shelf for the weekend because of an injury. South Carolina's bullpen is led by right-hander Matt Price, who has 10 saves and a 3.68 ERA in 63 2/3 innings. It's worth mentioning the Gamecocks will be without stud young catcher Grayson Greiner because of an injury.

The NCAA set things up perfectly last season when they pitted the Gamecocks against the Clemson Regional for an NCAA Super Regional. However, the Tigers messed up everyone's dream matchup by losing to Connecticut. This time, the Tigers hope to make things happen against the Gamecocks. Clemson must be more consistent at the plate, entering the tournament with a .269 batting average. Stud third baseman Richie Shaffer is hitting a team-best .339 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs, while Steve Wilkerson (.308) and Thomas Brittle (.303) both are guys that can be big-time hitters. Also keep an eye on Phil Pohl, who's hitting just .288, but has eight homers and 50 RBIs ... Pitching-wise, the Tigers were ecstatic when right-handed pitcher Kevin Brady returned to the rotation. Brady has a big-time arm and a 2.52 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. Kevin Pohle has started 13 games and has a 3.66 ERA in 71 1/3 innings, while freshman Daniel Gossett has a 4.50 ERA in 70 innings. Bullpen-wise, the Tigers have a very quality arm in Scott Firth, who has appeared in 22 games and has a 1.99 ERA in 49 2/3 innings of work.

What a job Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore has done over the past few weeks. After losing ace pitcher Josh Conway for the year because of an injury, all the Chants have done since is put together an impressive string of success. The Chants enter the weekend hitting .285, as veteran outfielder Daniel Bowman leads the way, hitting .401 with six homers and 38 RBIs. Meanwhile, Rich Witten is hitting an impressive .350 with five homers and 62 RBIs, while Alex Buccilli is hitting .320 with three homers and 40 RBIs ... Pitching-wise, the Chants don't have Conway, so they're relying heavily on Tyler Herb, who has a 2.87 ERA in 87 2/3 innings. Also keep an eye on impressive arms such as Aaron Burke (1.18), Ryan Connolly (2.11) and Austin Kerr (1.04), among others. It'll be interesting to see what type of weekend CCU puts together.

The Jaspers have put together an impressive rash of success the past few seasons, but they'd like to finally make a statement in the NCAA postseason. To accomplish that goal this weekend, the Jaspers must step up from an offensive standpoint. The team is hitting .273 entering the weekend, as outfielder Anthony Vega leads the way, hitting .336 with five homers and 31 RBIs. Nick Camastro also is having a solid campaign, hitting .319 with 28 RBIs, but otherwise, the Jaspers only have one starter (Joe Rock) hitting over .300 ... Pitching-wise, submariner Taylor Sewitt could cause some major issues for the Gamecocks. Sewitt is 11-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 90 innings of work. Meanwhile, another starting pitcher, John Soldinger, has a 3.43 ERA in 94 1/3 innings. Also keep an eye on reliever Jacob Marchus, who has appeared in 20 games and has a 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings.




CHARLOTTESVILLE REGIONAL


THE TEAMS
1. Virginia (38-17-1) -- Atlantic Coast Conference
2. Oklahoma (38-22) -- Big 12 Conference
3. Appalachian State (39-16) -- Southern Conference
4. Army (41-13) -- Patriot League


The favorite: Virginia
Top pitcher: LHP Dillon Overton, Oklahoma
Top hitter: DH Daniel Kassouf, Appalachian State
Top prospect, 2012 draft: RHP Branden Kline, Virginia


The Cavaliers have been iffy offensively at times this season, but have progressively gotten better as the season proceeded. Third baseman Stephen Bruno is having a big-time campaign at the plate, hitting .362 with 20 doubles, six homers and 48 RBIs, while freshman outfielder Derek Fisher is hitting .309 with eight triples, seven homers and 50 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Jared King and Chris Taylor, who each have knocked in 44 runs this season ... Pitching-wise, the Cavaliers have a good one in ace right-handed pitcher Branden Kline. Kline has been hit at times this season, but still has a 3.68 ERA in 88 innings. Artie Lewicki has a 3.33 ERA in 3.33 ERA in 73 innings, while Scott Silverstein, who has a power arm, has a 4.48 ERA in 64 1/3 innings of work. Bullpen-wise, keep an eye on Kyle Crockett (2.40), Shane Halley (1.71) and Justin Thompson (2.41). All three have been fantastic this season.

The Sooners have been playing a terrific brand of baseball the past few weeks, and they hope that trend continues this weekend up in Virginia. OU played very well in the Big 12 tournament, and is much better than its .269 batting average indicates. Max White is hitting .356 with two homers and 54 RBIs, while Erik Ross (.295) and Jack Mayfield (.286) are both good athletes to keep an eye on this weekend ... Pitching-wise, it's hard not to like this OU club. Jordan John has been terrific with a 2.30 ERA in 109 2/3 innings of work, while Dillon Overton has a 3.24 ERA in 108 1/3 innings of work. Jonathan Gray (3.47) has a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s ,while Steven Okert has flashed some big-time stuff out of the bullpen and has a 2.92 ERA and four saves in 77 innings of work.

The Mountaineers made an incredibly big splash toward the beginning of the season when they took a road series from LSU. Well, that series win doesn't seem like a fluke now. The 'Neers are hitting .307 as a team with an outstanding bat in Daniel Kassouf, who's hitting .345 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs. Meanwhile, leading hitter Tyler Tewell is hitting .375 with six homers and 63 RBIs and Tyler Zupcic and Will Callaway are hitting .338 and .330, respectively ... Pitching-wise, Appalachian State has some quality arms with Seth Grant, Ryan Arrowood and Rob Marcello leading the way. Marcello has consistency issues and has a 5.19 ERA in 78 innings, while Grant has a 3.33 ERA in 94 2/3 innings and Arrowood has a 4.03 ERA in 91 2/3 innings. Also keep an eye on relievers Will Helms (3.38) and Nathan Hyatt (3.46), both quality arms out of the bullpen.

The Black Knights made a big-time statement a couple of seasons ago when they reached the Austin Regional title game against Texas. Now, they hope to seal the deal this weekend at the Charlottesville Regional. Army is hitting .290 entering the weekend and has one of the nation's premier two-way players in Kevin McKague. McKague is hitting .389 with 16 doubles, five homers and 44 RBIs. Meanwhile, on the mound, he has a 1.46 ERA in just 11 appearances. Also offensively, keep an eye on Harold Earls (.347) and Zach Price (.324), while Cody Murtle (.251) has four homers and 41 RBIs ... Pitching-wise, Army ace starting pitcher Chris Rowley could have Virginia on upset watch. Rowley has a 1.97 ERA in 91 1/3 innings and is limiting teams to a .186 batting average. Also keep an eye on talented relievers Manny Fernandez (2.22) and Gunnar Carroll (2.45). Can Army pull off a surprise this weekend?



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