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Oregon State: The Beavers looked like the all-around solid club we thought they were against Arizona State over the weekend. OSU senior left-handed pitcher Matt Boyd was fantastic in the series opener, while despite getting no-hit on Saturday, Ben Wetzler and Max Engelbrekt teamed up to beat the Sun Devils in the series finale. The Beavers continue to be one of the nation's most consistent clubs.
Arkansas: Sure, the Hogs didn't exactly put together an impressive performance last weekend against Ole Miss, but they rose to the occasion against South Carolina over the weekend. Hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek struck out seven, walked one and allowed no earned runs in a complete game performance against the Gamecocks, while in the series finale, senior left-hander Randall Fant gave the Hogs six quality innings. As we've said all along, the Hogs are one of the nation's best clubs when they want to be.
Kentucky: After passing an important road test against Florida two weekends ago, the Wildcats returned home for yet another test, this time against Mississippi State. And as expected, they didn't disappoint. The Wildcats took two of three from the Bulldogs, with veteran left-handed pitchers Jerad Grundy and Corey Littrell stepping up in the final two contests.
Florida State: What a resilient bunch these Seminoles are this spring, as we noted in last week's weekend preview. The 'Noles dropped the series opener to Georgia Tech in ugly fashion over the weekend, but bounced back in the final two games to take the series. Though starting pitching wasn't incredibly strong against the Jackets, freshman DJ Stewart rose to the occasion at the plate, while reliever Robby Coles tossed 1 2/3 shutout frames in the final game.
Texas A&M: The Aggies appeared to be in some serious trouble after losing two games three-straight weekends, but they showed a lot of reasons for optimism their last 1-2 weekend on the road against Cal State Fullerton. A&M has played very well since that point, sitting at 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference after a surprising road series win over Mississippi. A&M must still find a No. 3 starting pitcher, but No. 2 starter Daniel Mengden continues to flash plus stuff. A&M shortstop Mikey Reynolds continues to be an elite table-setter.
Virginia: The Cavaliers, much like Florida State, are getting contributions from several talented players this season. Brandon Cogswell again had some big hits over the weekend against North Carolina State, while several Virginia pitchers also have risen to the occasion in recent weeks. With many young players in key positions, coach Brian O'Connor and his staff are doing a terrific job.
Houston: It's really impressive to see what the Cougars are doing so far this season. UH finished last season with an 18-35 overall record, but are significantly better in every facet of the game this season. UH's starting pitching was very good over the weekend in a series sweep over East Carolina. Daniel Poncedeleon struck out eight in innings, while fellow righty Austin Pruitt struck out 13 in eight innings.
Gonzaga: It's not in the least bit surprising to see coach Mark Machtolf putting his program in a position to take a step forward. Bulldogs junior left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales headlines the starting rotation, but also keep an eye on Tyler Olson and Derek Callahan. Olson pitched well over the weekend against San Diego, and has a 2.32 ERA in 43 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 37 and walked 14, while Callahan has a 2.94 ERA in 33 2/3 innings.
South Alabama: The Jaguars were just on the cusp of our rankings this week, and they continue to put together impressive weekend after impressive weekend. Jordan Patterson is a big-time hitter and pitcher for the Jaguars, while Jacob Noble, Kyle Bartsch and Dylan Stamey have established consistency.
Oklahoma: It's no surprise at all the Sooners are putting together an impressive campaign with starting pitchers Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray leading the charge. Overton has a 2.93 ERA in 43 innings with 39 strikeouts, while Gray has a 1.41 ERA in 44 2/3 innings with 51 strikeouts. Also keep an eye on reliever Jacob Evans, who has appeared in 14 games and has an 0.71 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. OU recorded a home series sweep over TCU this past weekend.
Auburn: It's really like déjà vu all over again for the Tigers, another slow start in SEC play. The Tigers hit the road to LSU over the weekend, and scored just seven runs in three games. It also didn't help that veteran left-handed pitcher Daniel Koger started the weekend on a sour note by giving up five runs on five hits in just 3 1/3 innings of work. Imagine this situation, though: AU has arguably its biggest series of the season at home this weekend against rival Alabama.
Georgia: Much like Auburn, the Bulldogs always seem to find themselves slow out of the gate in SEC play. This year is no exception, as Georgia has some serious work to do with an 8-16 overall record, 0-6 mark in the SEC after losing all three games, at home, mind you, to Alabama over the weekend. Georgia's struggles are bizarre to say the least when you factor in that the offense is decent with Curt Powell (.400/0/11), Nelson Ward (.359/0/10) and Kyle Farmer (.358/0/26) leading the charge.
Arizona: I had an opportunity to check out the Wildcats against Oregon over the weekend, and certainly didn't come away very impressed. Arizona right-handed pitcher James Farris showed a lot of potential in the Saturday game against the Ducks, with a good slider and fastball up to 92. However, the Wildcats gave their pitching staff very little run support over the weekend. Arizona is now 0-6 in Pac-12 play with Utah and California on deck the next two weekends.
Louisville: The Cardinals were very much rolling before the weekend, but took a step back against Rob Smorol and a pesky Rutgers club. Perhaps the Cards just got a bit overconfident. Either way, it was a disappointing weekend for coach Dan McDonnell's club. Somewhat surprising was Jared Ruxer's start against the Scarlet Knights in the series finale, where he allowed four runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings of work.
Stanford: Coaches throughout the Pac-12 have always said the best time to play the Cardinal is coming off their mid-semester break. Well, that much was obvious over the weekend as the Cardinal dropped a surprising home series to Utah. Stanford's starting pitching was solid until the series finale when Dean McArdle allowed three runs on six hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
Central Arkansas: The Bears had been very consistent this spring, but took a step back over the weekend by failing to win a single game on the road of a three-game set against Oral Roberts. The offense was unable to get into a groove over the weekend, while the bullpen didn't set a good tone in the series opener with Griffin Glaude allowing four runs and two hits in just 2/3 innings.
TCU: It's hard to imagine the Horned Frogs were the clear-cut leader to win the Big 12 regular season title just a month ago. The Frogs have been atrocious offensively this spring, and their woes continued on the road against Oklahoma over the weekend. The Frogs did get a solid start from junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Mitchell over the weekend. Mitchell struck out six and allowed just a run on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
East Carolina: Like many teams, such as TCU, it's hard to imagine the Pirates sitting in such a bad position right now with an 11-13 overall record. ECU pitched relatively well over the weekend against Houston, but scored nine runs in three games to fall to 0-3 in Conference USA play. The Pirates aim to get back on track this week with games against William & Mary, Elon and two contests against North Carolina Central.
Lamar: The Cardinals were off to a terrific start this season, but hit a speed bump over the weekend in a home series loss to rival McNeese State. Jonathan Dziedzic put together yet another outstanding start in the lone victory of the weekend, but the Cards were unable to tame the Cowboys in the series finale. LU starting pitcher David Carver allowed five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings in the finale.
Wichita State: The Shockers typically are very solid, but have fallen on hard times so far this season. Gene Stephenson's WSU club is losers of six of their last seven contests with a series against Illinois State coming up this weekend. WSU is hitting .290 on the year, but has a surprisingly high 4.36 team earned-run average with Cale Elam the only overly impressive starting pitcher. Elam has a 2.70 ERA in 33 1/3 innings, while he has struck out 25 and walked 11.
Here are some of the notable winning streaks on the national stage:
Tennessee Tech (11)
Cal State Fullerton (10)
Michigan State (7)
Also, in impressive fashion, North Carolina leads the nation on the road with a 12-game road winning streak, while Cal State Fullerton, Cornell and Oregon State each have seven-game streaks.
With the season progressing in quick fashion, many readers have asked about national seeds, NCAA Regional hosts, and other postseason-related items. Though the RPI is still in its infant stages this spring, we're always answering the call.
Though our weekly NCAA postseason projections won't begin for a few weeks, here's an inside look at teams I believe would be national seeds if the season were to end today:
Oregon State (1): The Beavers have an outstanding overall record of 21-2 and have played a tough schedule so far this season. OSU is 6-1 vs. RPI Top 50 so far this spring, while it's also 10-2 vs. RPI Top 100.
LSU (2): Much like the Beavers, the Tigers have played a solid schedule so far this spring, and outside of a couple of hiccups, have also been very consistent. The Tigers are 22-2 overall and are 5-2 vs. RPI Top 50 and 11-2 vs. RPI Top 100.
Cal State Fullerton (3): Speaking of difficult schedules, what about the obstacle course the Titans have been through so far this season? Impressive to say the least. But even more impressive is the fact this club is 21-3 overall. Fullerton is 4-2 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-3 vs. RPI Top 100.
Vanderbilt (4): The Commodores didn't start the season with an incredibly difficult schedule, but things have gotten gradually tougher each week. The Oregon road series win will continue to help the 'Dores the entire season. In addition to a great RPI, VU is 4-3 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-3 vs. RPI Top 100.
North Carolina (6): Though the Tar Heels don't have the nation's top RPI at the moment, sitting at 6, few teams could match their overall resume if the season ended today. UNC's strength of schedule so far this season hurts them a bit, but it's still 4-1 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-1 vs. RPI Top 100.
Florida State (7): It's well documented just how impressed we are with the job Mike Martin and his coaching staff are doing this spring. The computers like the job the Seminoles are doing as well. In addition to a high RPI, the 'Noles are 5-1 vs. RPI Top 50 and 10-2 vs. RPI Top 100.
Virginia (13): The computers certainly knock the Cavaliers from a strength of schedule standpoint because of their non-conference slate, but who would've known two months ago ECU would bring so little to the table RPI-wise? Still, Virginia has an RPI of 13 with a 6-1 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-2 mark vs. RPI Top 100.
Notre Dame (5): The Fighting Irish have a long way to go to earn a national seed going into June, but should they be consistent in the Big East, it's definitely a distinct possibility. The Irish are going to be greatly benefit from the new RPI formula, and the fact they've won some key road games so far this season. The Irish are 5-3 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-5 vs. RPI Top 100.
* Oregon State left-handed pitcher Jace Fry might not have been expected back this season just a couple of months ago, but he's well on his way to returning to the fold for the Beavers. Fry threw a bullpen prior to this past weekend's series against Arizona State, and flourished, pitching coach Nate Yeski said. Fry is somewhere between 85-90 percent ready to go, and the Beavers, could, emphasizing the word could, use him before the season finishes … Not all is well in Corvallis, Ore., these days, though, as the Beavers could be without shortstop Tyler Smith for a few weeks. Smith was injured earlier last week when he took a fastball off his hand. OSU coach Pat Casey said the loss was devastating for the Beavers, but Andy Peterson rose to the occasion in his absence over the weekend.
* Speaking of Oregon schools, Ducks head coach George Horton said junior right-handed pitcher Brando Tessar, who hasn't pitched this season because of an arm injury, continues to progress in impressive fashion in the bullpen and could return to the mound sooner rather than later. On another note, left-handed pitcher Christian Jones continues to flourish in a relief role for the Ducks, and Horton made it clear that Jones likely won't be back in the rotation this spring, but certainly didn't 100 percent rule out the possibility.
* Cal State Fullerton will be without third baseman Matt Chapman for four-to-six weeks because of ankle sprain. Chapman, a very solid defensive third baseman, was hitting .253 with 13 RBIs, but his offensive potential is well known.
* Texas A&M freshman infielder Cory Raley has left the program, sources say. Raley, the younger brother of Brooks Raley, a former A&M pitcher and currently a member of the Chicago Cubs organization, was ranked No. 330 nationally out of high school, but hadn't yet found his niche with the Aggies, hitting .333 in just three at bats so far this season.
* Texas Tech junior right-handed pitcher Trey Masek missed his start against West Virginia because of arm soreness, but it's not a serious injury and the Red Raiders expect him back very soon, perhaps even as early as this weekend. Masek, a top MLB draft prospect, is 3-0 with an 0.23 ERA in 40 innings. He also has struck out 40 and walked 10, while teams are hitting him at a .158 clip.
* Houston third baseman Jonathan Davis missed some time because of a separated shoulder, but is expected to return to 100 percent in the near future. UH head coach Todd Whitting said Davis can hit right now, but that throwing had still been difficult in the last week. Fortunately for UH, Kyle Kirk has been fantastic in place of Davis, hitting .347 with 15 RBIs.
* The NCAA released its latest statistical update, and here are some interesting figures from that release:
Central Connecticut State senior infielder Tyler McIntyre and Oklahoma's Matt Oberste are the nation's leading hitters at this point. McIntyre is hitting .475 for the Blue Devils, while Oberste is hitting a cool .471 for the red-hot Sooners. As for previous national leader Danny Collins, his average dropped to .420 over the past week.
Texas Tech's Trey Masek continues to lead the country in earned-run average with an 0.23 mark, but there are some other familiar faces in the top five as well. For instance, UCF's Ben Lively, a very heralded prospect, has an 0.41 ERA and Louisville's Jeff Thompson has an 0.46 ERA. There's also that Florida State "bulldog" in husky right-handed pitcher Scott Sitz, who continues to impress with a fantastic 0.51 ERA.
In terms of team rankings, the top five offensive teams in the country include, in order, Georgia Tech (.351), Washington State (.335), Georgia State (.334), Campbell (.328) and Delaware (.328). Interestingly, North Carolina, which also has an elite pitching staff, has a team batting average with a .319 batting average … In terms of ERA, the top five includes Oregon State (1.64), North Carolina (1.70), Arkansas (1.74), Indiana (2.05) and tied for fifth are UCLA (2.07) and Louisville (2.07).
In some other categories, Austin Peay's Tyler Rogers leads the nation with nine saves, while Cal State Fullerton's Michael Lorenzen and South Carolina's Tyler Webb each have eight. Also keep an eye on hard-throwing closers Dan Slania of Notre Dame and Trevor Gott of Kentucky, who each have seven … In another intriguing category, San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant leads the nation with 12 homers, while Campbell outfielder Ben McQuown has 28 stolen bases.