Could you really go wrong with either starting rotation this weekend?
Pepperdine possesses an outstanding 1-2-3 punch with righthanders Corey Miller and Jackson McClelland and lefthander Aaron Brown leading the way. Miller is having a great year and is Mr. Command for the Waves, while Brown has been 88-92 with good stuff, and McClelland is a hard-throwing righty for Steve Rodriguez's club.
For the Frogs, lefthanded pitcher Brandon Finnegan, a first-round pick this week, gets the most fanfare out of this group, but righthanded pitcher Preston Morrison is having a terrific season with a 1.24 ERA in 115 2/3 innings, along with 79 strikeouts and 17 walks. Meanwhile, keep a very close eye on freshman lefthanded pitcher Tyler Alexander. Alexander sits 88-91 with his fastball and has good pitchability with a 1.94 ERA in 92 2/3 innings, along with 57 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Once again, the Waves and Horned Frogs are very even from a bullpen standpoint.
Pepperdine has a terrific trio of relievers it likes to utilize, including veteran Eric Karch, lanky freshman A.J. Puckett and Chandler Blanchard. Karch has recorded 15 saves and has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings, while Puckett throws downhill and has an above-average curveball, and Blanchard has a 1.17 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.
For the Frogs, sophomore righthanded pitcher Riley Ferrell is one of the nation's elite relievers and is a top 2015 MLB draft prospect. Ferrell has a fastball that sits 95-98, along with a slider that can be dominant at times. Meanwhile, Trey Teakell (2.26) and Alex Young (2.61) are often-used, consistent, arms.
Here's yet another category where these two clubs matchup very well. The Frogs don't have overwhelming overall offensive numbers, but this is a lineup that progressed well throughout the spring with guys like speedy Boomer White (.328), Dylan Fitzgerald (.317 w/ good approach), Derek Odell (.285/1/33) and hard-hitting first baseman Kevin Cron (.275/4/38) leading the charge.
For the Waves, freshman catcher Aaron Barnett is a consistent hitter with a .373 batting average, while Hutton Moyer (.311/0/22) and Aaron Brown (.310/12/47) are the other offensive headliners for this club. Bryan Langlois (.283/3/34) had some big hits in last weekend's San Luis Obispo Regional, while Davidson has an opportunity to really wreak some havoc this weekend.
Though we're expecting to see three elite pitching matchups this weekend, don't be surprised if there's more offense than expected.
Both the Waves and Frogs do a terrific job of not beating themselves with shoddy defense.
The Waves have a very steady starting catcher in hard-hitting freshman Aaron Barnett leading the charge, while the middle infield is in terrific shape with shortstop Manny Jefferson (a terrific defender) and second baseman Hutton Moyer leading the way. Third baseman Austin Davidson is an athletic to watch as well.
The Frogs are very stable defensively this spring. Versatile Boomer Whiting and Cody Jones lead the outfield with stability and good speed, while the infield is in good shape, too, with shortstop Keaton Jones leading the way.
"One of the big things about the Waves is the middle infield, particularly freshman Manny Jefferson, who has solid speed and good instincts/feel at shortstop. That weekend rotation is very good, with Brown solidifying himself as one of the top players in the State of California, while this offense can be downright scary. The Waves don't have great offensive numbers, but their pitches tend to stay somewhat in the zone. Pepperdine is playing very well at the right time.
On Texas Christian:
"TCU to me was the best team we played this season by far. They're just one of the only teams I've seen go out there this season and just shows total dominance. Morrison can really shut you down on the mound. Offensively, they were solid throughout the lineup all the way down to the 7-8-9 guys. They were all tough outs and it gives them a lot of balance. Boomer White is really good, and Dylan Fitzgerald and Derek Odell each had success against us."