Mississippi State had one of the nation's elite pitching staffs last season, but didn't have the offense to get to the College World Series. This season, the Bulldogs still have a solid pitching staff, only this time, the offense is significantly better than last year's club.
The Bulldogs enter the weekend hitting .293 as a club with first-round pick Hunter Renfroe leading the charge. Renfroe is an elite defender with a huge arm in the outfield, but he's also an elite hitter, taking a huge step forward at the plate this season. Renfroe is hitting .352 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs.
Shortstop Adam Frazier has a good bounce in his step and is hitting .344 with 33 RBIs, while designated hitter Alex Detz and second baseman Brett Pirtle have been consistent, with Pirtle rising up the past few weeks. Pirtle is hitting .310 with two homers and 31 RBIs.
C.T. Bradford and Sam Frost also are worth watching this weekend, while first baseman Wes Rea is a potential game-changer for MSU. Rea is only hitting .276 on the season, but has impressive power with six homers and 35 RBIs.
As for the Cavaliers, Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor thought his club might be solid at the plate this spring, but I'm not sure even he expected the club to be this productive, entering the weekend with an impressive .313 batting average.
Mike Papi has been a big-time hitter for the Cavaliers this spring. Papi is a pure hitter for the Hoos. In addition to hitting .393 with six homers and 55 RBIs, he has a good eye at the plate, too, with 43 walks and only 22 strikeouts this season. Papi has an incredible .527 OBP.
Shortstop Brandon Cogswell won't start this weekend because of a broken finger, but should see some action according to O'Connor. Cogswell is hitting .346 with 22 RBIs, while Joe McCarthy has earned rave reviews from opposing coaches and is hitting .333 with four homers and 50 RBIs.
Others to keep an eye on include two-way player Nick Howard, athletic Brandon Downs, versatile outfielder Derek Fisher and Reed Gragnani.
Howard is hitting .318 with nine homers and 58 RBIs, Fisher is hitting .306 with seven homers and 47 RBIs and Gragnani, a veteran, is hitting .301 with three homers and 48 RBIs. I'd also keep an eye on Jared King, who enters the weekend with a .287 average.
As you can see, the Cavaliers have a lot of depth from an offensive standpoint.