LSU: The Tigers had yet another outstanding week that included a road series sweep over Missouri. LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman continues to hit with some authority, while veteran first baseman Mason Katz is one of the nation's leading candidate for Player of the Year honors, hitting .419 with six doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 49 RBIs.
Vanderbilt: There's nothing quite like doing a clean sweep of a heated rival, and that's exactly what the Commodores did over the weekend against Tennessee. The Commodores are getting contributions from several areas, but starting pitchers Tyler Beede and Kevin Ziomek are pitching at a high level, while closer Brian Miller has been under-the-radar dominant, appearing in 16 games with a 0.33 ERA in 27 2/3 innings of work.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks still aren't where they'd like to be from an offensive standpoint, but are having an exceptional season on the mound. Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin continue to have good campaigns, while Jalen Beeks and Colby Suggs are quality arms to watch out of the bullpen. The Hogs are coming off an important home series win over Mississippi State.
Arizona State pitcher Trevor Williams got back to his elite ways against UCLA. (ASU photo)
South Carolina: Just a week after dropping all three games to Arkansas at home, the Gamecocks responded in strong fashion last weekend by sweeping red-hot Texas A&M at home. Hard-hitting first baseman LB Dantzler continued his impressive hitting with a big weekend, and is now hitting a team-best .357 with seven doubles, a triple, nine homers and 32 RBIs.
Louisville: The Cardinals dropped a tough home series to Rutgers two weekends ago, but rose to the occasion this past weekend with a home series sweep over red-hot Notre Dame. UL welcomed back athletic outfielder CoCo Johnson, while on the mound, right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson, who has a 0.59 ERA, put together yet another solid performance.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys might've dropped a midweek affair to Central Arkansas last week, but they rose to the occasion over the weekend with a home series win over talented Texas. OSU is getting a solid campaign from right-handed pitcher Jason Hursh, who has a 2.12 ERA in 51 innings, though, he didn't have his greatest start against the Longhorns.
Indiana: Last year it was Purdue making big waves on the national stage at this point in the season. Now it's the Hoosiers after an impressive week that included a midweek win over Louisville, and an impressive weekend. Catcher Kyle Schwarber is hitting .431 with six homers and 30 RBIs, while Scott Donley also has been consistent, hitting .385 with three homers and 34 RBIs.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils dropped a tough series at Oregon State two weekends ago, but responded in style over the weekend with a home series win over UCLA. ASU right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams, who has a 2.54 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, rose to the occasion, while freshman lefty Ryan Kellogg continued his impressive ways.
Central Arkansas: The Bears took a step back two weekends ago against Oral Roberts, but responded in style over the weekend with a series win over Lamar, in addition to the win over Oklahoma State earlier in the week. Caleb McClanahan (1.86, 48.1) and Bryce Biggerstaff (2.24, 54.1) continue to throw well, while Forrestt Allday leads the offense with a .415 average, a home run and 25 RBIs.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies might've dropped a contest in midweek action, but they responded in a big way over the weekend with a home series win over red-hot Florida State. Left-handed pitcher Joe Mantiply was exceptional against the Seminoles, and for the year, he has a 3.32 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights might've gotten off to a slow start this spring, but they're riding high after a second-straight Big East series win. Starting pitchers Rob Smorol and Tyler Gebler once again performed at a high level in a series sweep over Villanova this past weekend, while Charlie Law is a special dual threat, hitting .354 with two doubles, a home run and 13 RBIs.
Missouri State: The Bears are having another very good campaign, and again, they have an excellent weekend rotation. Right-handed pitcher Nick Petree certainly started the Indiana State series on a high note, while Jonathan Harris and Cody Schumacher also threw very well. MSU is still a work in progress at the plate, but the rotation is among the best.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have as much potential as any team out there right now, but just can't put an important series win together. The Bulldogs dropped their four-straight series, third-straight in the SEC, in a road series loss to Arkansas over the weekend. Despite the heartache, the Dogs are still getting a solid campaign from outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who's hitting .436 with nine homers and 36 RBIs.
UC Irvine: The Anteaters might have one of the nation's elite starting pitchers in Andrew Thurman, but they seriously lack consistency. UCI had a weekend to forget in Big West play, as it was swept by gritty UC Riverside. With an RPI of in the 50s, the 'Eaters have some work to do the final month of the regular season.
Connecticut: Speaking of inconsistent, the Huskies took a step back over the weekend with a difficult series loss to Seton Hall. Despite the setback, the Huskies continue to get solid offensive campaigns from Vinny Siena (.363) and LJ Mazzilli (.327), while ace pitcher Carson Cross (1.30, 48.1) has been dealing.
Georgia Southern: The Eagles were rolling right along, but took a step back over the weekend with a tough series loss to UNC Greensboro. Despite the series loss, hard-hitting first baseman T.D. Davis continues to have a solid campaign, hitting an impressive .361 with nine doubles, eight homers and 33 RBIs.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs took a significant step forward two weekends ago with a series win over San Diego, but took a step back last weekend with a series loss to LMU. Despite the series loss, in which left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales, didn't have a great outing, the Bulldogs still have a solid rotation with the lefty and Tyler Olson (3.55) leading the charge.
Miami: The Hurricanes just can't seem to establish any consistency. They seemed to turn the corner two weekends ago with a home series win over Virginia Tech, but dropped a tough road series to Virginia last weekend. 'Canes starting pitcher Bryan Radziewski continues to have an outstanding campaign with a 3-1 record and 0.98 ERA 27 2/3 innings of work.
Mississippi: The Rebels are still one of the nation's elite teams, but have struggled the past two weekends in series losses to Texas A&M and Florida. Now, they hope to get back on track this weekend. Ole Miss must get junior right-handed pitcher Mike Mayers back on track. Mayers has been iffy the past two weekends, allowing six runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Gators.
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders appeared to be one of those elite teams to watch a few weeks ago, but they're now 16-14 overall after getting swept by Troy over the weekend. MTSU's pitching staff did a very commendable job against the potent Troy lineup, but the offense was unable to take care of business.
Auburn: The Tigers are in a tough position as they get ready to head to College Station, Texas, this weekend to face Texas A&M. AU's offense has been a bit disappointing with just a .262 batting average, while the rotation, which includes Michael O'Neal, Daniel Koger and Rocky McCord, has been solid with all three pitchers having earned-run averages below 4.31.
Boston College: It's safe to say the Eagles are having a season to forget so far this spring. BC is 3-22 overall and has an 0-11 record in the ACC. Additionally, the Eagles are hitting just .202 as a club this spring along with a 7.17 ERA.
Northwestern State: The Demons are having a tough time finding their niche so far this season. They fell to 9-21 overall over the weekend and must improve at the plate, where they're hitting .239 as a team. From a pitching standpoint, relievers Cameron Brewer, Steve Spann and Logan Shaftner have been solid this season.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions had yet another lackluster weekend and are now 5-18 overall, 0-6 in the Big Ten. Steven Hill (3.54, 40.2) and David Walkling (2.93, 27.2) have been solid on the mound, while at the plate, the Lions are hitting just .251 as a team with Taylor Skerpon (.310/1/11) leading the way.
Here are some notable streaks on the national stage:
Road winning streaks
North Carolina (12)
Cal State Fullerton (7)
William & Mary (7)
Hitting streak to watch
Oklahoma first baseman/designated hitter Matt Oberste is having quite the offensive campaign for the Sooners. The veteran extended his historic hitting streak to 30 games over the weekend in a series win over Kansas. For the year, Oberste is hitting an incredible .460 with 10 doubles, three triples, eight homers and 38 RBIs. He's also slugging .814 and has a .526 on-base percentage.
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:
North Carolina (4): The Tar Heels would be an absolute lock for a national seed if the season ended today. UNC has a fabulous 24-1 overall record with a 4-1 mark vs. RPI Top 50 teams and a 13-1 mark vs. RPI Top 100 squads. What's scary, too, is that resume only will get better as the Heels continue ACC play.
LSU (3): Speaking of locks for a national seed, the Tigers are another one of those teams. The Tigers have been terrific so far this season, and their resume just reiterates that story. LSU is 4-1 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-2 vs. RPI Top 50.
Vanderbilt (2): The Commodores have been extremely consistent this season, and too, would be a lock for a national seed if the season ended today. The 'Dores have an outstanding RPI and resume. Vandy is 5-2 vs. RPI Top 50 and an impressive 15-3 vs. RPI Top 50.
Cal State Fullerton (5): It's hard to imagine TCU is hurting Fullerton's resume this spring, but the fact is the Frogs are doing so. Fullerton has played an extremely difficult schedule this season, 4-3 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-4 vs. RPI Top 100.
Virginia (10): Brian O'Connor is doing a terrific job with his Cavaliers this spring, as they're sitting 25-3 through through the first few weeks of ACC play. UVa. also has a solid postseason resume thus far. It's 8-2 vs. RPI Top 50 and 14-3 vs. RPI Top 100.
Oregon State (1): Despite a tough road series loss to San Diego over the weekend, the Beavers still have nation's top RPI. OSU is 22-4 overall and has a 3-3 record vs. RPI Top 50 and 10-3 mark vs. RPI Top 100.
Florida State (9): Despite a tough series loss at Virginia Tech over weekend, we still believe the committee would award the Seminoles with a national seed if the season ended today. The Seminoles are 7-3 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-4 vs. RPI Top 100.
Indiana (8): The Hoosiers are the newest addition to our national seeds. The committee would absolutely love to grant a warranted national seed to a Big Ten institution. The Hoosiers fit the mold thus far with a 22-3 overall record, 5-3 mark vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-3 record vs. RPI Top 100.
Next in line? Oregon, Georgia Tech, South Carolina
We've talked a lot about some of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB draft, but it's never too early to dissect some of the top names to watch for 2014.
One of those names is Rice sophomore right-handed pitcher Zech Lemond.
We've seen the hard-throwing 6-foot-4, 195-pound, righty several times this season, and each time, it seems like I become more and more impressed. That once again was the case this past weekend against Tulane.
Lemond worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings against Tulane over the weekend. As usual, the righty, who has an unorthodox motion, showed some plus stuff. He had a fastball sitting 90-94 with some armside run, a slider 82-83 that is still a developing pitch, and a hard, spiking, curveball 79-81, sometimes a plus offering.
"Lemond. He has been really, and I mean, really good for us this season," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "He's a special pitcher, maybe one of the better relievers we've had in quite a while."
Lemond entered the season as the No. 86 prospect for the 2014 MLB draft, but likely will get a substantial boost in our next rankings update. Lemond, for the season, has appeared in 13 games, recorded eight saves and has a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings of work. He also has struck out 26, walked eight and teams are hitting him at a .190 clip.
In addition to his plus stuff, Lemond has been a Godsend for the Owls. Entering the season, the Owls had right-handed pitcher John Simms penciled in as a possible closer, mainly because of his consistency, attitude and stuff. But with the rise of Lemond and others, such as left-hander Blake Fox, the Owls have been able to keep Simms in the weekend rotation.
Go ahead and file away Lemond's name for a while. You'll hear a lot more about him next year.
* Oregon State veteran shortstop Tyler Smith has missed the last two weekends because of a hand injury, but could return to action this weekend against UCLA. Smith, an integral part of the Beavers' club both in the field and at the plate, was hitting .316 with a home run and 13 RBIs when he went down with an injury. When he went down, OSU coach Pat Casey said his loss was "Just huge for this team. We really need him back." Well, it sounds like Casey will get his wish.
* UCLA highly touted left-handed freshman pitcher Hunter Virant, the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder, is on the shelf for at least another week with a minor shoulder tweak. Virant was one of the more notable freshman arms entering the season. He only has appeared in five games and has a 0.00 ERA in 3 1/3 innings of work.
* South Florida head coach Lelo Prado earned his 800th win over the weekend in a 10-6 win over Georgetown. Though the Bulls lost the series to the Hoyas, it was a memorable day for Prado, who has spent several seasons at USF, and before that, had spent many years at Louisville.
* Mercer head coach Craig Gibson earned his 300th career win over the weekend as the Bears took two of three from Jacksonville. The highlight of the weekend for the Bears was touching up heralded JU right-handed pitcher Chris Anderson for nine runs on 11 hits in just six innings of work.
* Tulane continues to scuffle in all facets of the game, but could be getting a lift here pretty soon as the coaching staff feels better about the return of junior right-handed pitcher Alex Facundus, perhaps sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, they don't feel so great about right-handed pitcher Alex Massey, who has yet to throw a pitch this spring.
* Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman was expected to miss four-to-six weeks because of a high ankle sprain, but Titans coach Rick Vanderhook updated his status earlier last week, saying that he'd now just be out a couple of weeks. Though the Titans did a clean sweep of Pacific last week, getting Chapman back in the mix would be a huge boost.
* Oregon welcomed back veteran right-handed pitcher Brando Tessar last week in a midweek affair against Portland. Tessar had yet to pitch this season because of rehab tied to an arm injury, but he threw one impressive inning against the Pilots. Though he didn't throw this past weekend against Washington, it'll be interesting to see how UO utilizes Tessar moving forward.
* Texas Tech junior right-handed pitcher Trey Masek missed his start two weekends ago against West Virginia because of arm soreness. Well, he was still on the shelf last weekend against TCU. The result without Masek two-straight weekends? Both series losses, as the Red Raiders now sit at 4-5 in the Big 12.
* South Carolina continues to be without sophomore left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery, but that didn't matter against Texas A&M over the weekend. That might be because stocky left-hander Adam Westmoreland rose to the occasion against the Aggies. Westmoreland struck out seven in 3 2/3 shutout innings of relief work in the series opener, while he allowed a run in 4 21/3 innings in the series finale. The Gamecocks could be without Montgomery for at least another week.
* Louisville had missed Zach Lucas and versatile CoCo Johnson for a couple of weeks because of injuries, but got both back in the series win over Notre Dame this past weekend. Lucas went 0-for-2 and Johnson went 0-for-0 with a walk in the series opener against the Irish. Johnson went 3-for-4 in the second game and in the finale, Johnson had a hit, two runs scored and three RBIs to help the Cardinals.
* New Mexico All-American third baseman missed some of this past weekend because of a minor hamstring injury. UNM head coach said over the weekend he didn't expect the injury to be too serious. Peterson is off to a torrid start at the plate, hitting an impressive .410 with 11 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 35 RBIs. And oh yeah, he also has a .910 slugging percentage and .512 OBP.
* The NCAA has released its latest overall statistical figures for Division I college baseball, and here are some notables from that release:
* I'm always intrigued to see how the stolen base category stacks up. Well, the category is led by Campbell outfielder Ben McQuown, who has 31 stolen bases, and only has been caught once doing so. Meanwhile, Louisville's Adam Engel is second in the country in the category with 28 swiped bases. Also keep an eye on Maryland's Charlie White (25), Alabama State's Richard Amion (23), Arizona's Brandon Dixon (22) and Mississippi Valley's Edmund Cheatham (21).
* North Carolina State left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon hasn't been the most consistent pitcher this season, though he threw well last weekend against Maryland. Either way, Rodon continues to rack up high strikeout totals despite being hittable at times. Rodon leads the nation with 73 strikeouts, while hard-throwing Jacksonville right-handed pitcher Chris Anderson sits second with 70 strikeouts. Also keep an eye on Savannah State's Kyle McGowin (66), Stanford's Mark Appel (64) and Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray (63 … Interestingly, in terms of strikeout-to-walk ratio, the nation's top five pitchers include South Carolina's Nolan Belcher (by a significant margin), Air Force's Cam White, North Dakota State's Jordan Straka, Baylor's Dillon Newman and William & Mary's Brett Koehler.
* There aren't a lot of changes when it comes to the nation's home run leaders. San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant leads the way with 14 big flies, while LSU's Mason Katz is second nationally with 13. Meanwhile, New Mexico's DJ Peterson has 11 and Georgia Tech's Zane Evans with 10. Also, five players are tied with nine homers, including South Carolina's LB Dantzler, Western Kentucky's Ryan Huck, Dallas Baptist's Duncan McAlpine, catcher Hunter Renfroe and The Citadel's Bo Thompson.
* Go ahead and call it the bruiser award. By that, we mean players leading the charge when it comes to hit-by-pitches. North Carolina Central's Troy Marrow leads the charge with 20 HBP's, while UTSA first baseman Mike Warren has 15, along with SEMO's Jason Blum, Maryland's Kyle Convissar, UCONN's Tom Verdi and Georgia Southern's Scooter Williams sitting at 13.