Miami had quite an impressive regular season to remember. The Hurricanes tallied a 24-6 ACC record, winning the regular season crown, and hope to make a strong impression in the postseason after not getting a national seed. Miami’s offensive improvements this spring are noted, and this team is even better now with catcher Zack Collins hitting .300 with nine homers and 49 RBIs, while increasing his batting average almost .200 points since the first month or so of the season. Meanwhile, athletic outfielder Dale Carey is hitting .313 with seven homers and 28 RBIs, and can cause major issues on the bases with 16 stolen bases, while Tyler Palmer (.294/2/33) and Willie Abreu (.291/1/28) are talented bats, and the ‘Canes have high hopes this postseason about first baseman David Thompson, who’s back from an injury and could provide an impactful punch … On the mound, the Hurricanes have plenty of talented options. Lefthanded starting pitchers Chris Diaz (2.31), Bryan Radziewski (3.14, 91.2 IP) and Andrew Suarez (3.22, 100.2 IP) are having quality campaigns. Radziewski doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but does a good job with his secondary stuff, while Suarez is a premium arm with a fastball low-90s, with the ability to get into the mid-90s as well. Meanwhile, Bryan Garcia (1.86, 15 saves, 48.1 IP), Thomas Woodrey (2.45, 44 IP) and Cooper Hammond (2.51, 32.1 IP) are shutdown relievers.
Texas Tech hadn’t reached the NCAA postseason since 2004, but are now ready to make a statement with Tim Tadlock’s club putting together a consistent 2014 campaign. The Red Raiders are a rather interesting club to watch. The Red Raiders feel like they’re in good shape on the mound entering the postseason. Tech will give lefthanded pitcher Chris Sadberry the start in the Coral Gables Regional opener. Sadberry, who has an athletic build, sits in the low-90s with his fastball and his quality secondary stuff, while freshman lefty Dylan Dusek has provided a boost with a 2.35 ERA in 61 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Dominic Moreno, who began the season as a starting pitcher, came out of the bullpen last weekend, while the most explosive arms on this stuff belong to Johnny Drozd and Ryan Moseley, who have a combined 42 appearances this spring. Also watch for junior righthanded pitcher Corey Taylor, who has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings with very good command of the zone … Defensively, the Red Raiders are always very confident with SS Tim Proudfoot and 2B Bryant Burleson up the middle, while at the plate, Eric Gutierrez is the headliner with a .313 average, 12 homers and 56 RBIs. Tyler Neslony (.412/4/31) and Adam Kirsch (.300/9/48) are a pair of Red Raiders power hitters to watch for this weekend.
Columbia is in some new territory this season, as an Ivy League team with a No. 3 seed in an NCAA Regional. The Lions compiled a very solid 29-18 overall record and enter the Coral Gables Regional with something to prove. As one coach who faced the Lions in a postseason format last season said, “Don’t be fooled, those guys are pretty good”. Columbia lefthanded pitcher David Speer has immaculate command with 75 strikeouts and just seven walks and a 1.86 ERA in 87 innings, while Kevin Roy has been a quality starter with a 3.02 ERA in 62 2/3 innings. The Lions also have a quality arm in Joey Donino, who has a 4.00 ERA in 11 starts, along with a fastball that can get up to 90-92 mph on the radar gun. Meanwhile, the Lions love turning things over to sophomore righthanded pitcher George Thanopoulous, who has a 2.81 ERA in 48 innings … The Lions might leave something to be desired offensively, but this team has some hitters to watch, such as Gus Craig, who has some serious pop in his bat, and the one-two hitters in the lineup of Will Savage (.338/1/14) and Jordan Serena (.302/0/13), who not only are quality hitters, but also have excellent speed with a combined 39 stolen bases. The Lions are 21-3 in their last 24 contests.
Bethune-Cookman has been a heavy topic of conversation throughout the week because it, not College of Charleston, was sent to the Coral Gables Regional. Well, the Wildcats hope to prove some folks wrong this weekend. The Wildcats have an excellent ace pitcher in righthander Montana Durapau, who has a good curveball and a 1.71 ERA in 110 1/3 innings, while Keith Zuniga has a good sinker and decent slider, and possesses a 2.59 ERA in 94 innings. Michael Austin (3.03, 29.2 IP) and Chris Waltermire (3.56, 30 1/3 IP) are quality arms to watch out of the pen, while hybrid John Sever, who has a fastball in the 86-90 range, and up to 91, has a 4.34 ERA in 56 innings … Offensively, the Wildcats definitely leave something to be desired, but hope that Eric Sams (.321/1/17) can effectively set the table. Also watch for Josh Johnson, who might only be hitting .253, but who has very good athleticism and speed with 16 stolen bases.
It's well established around the country that Miami, perception-wise, has the easiest NCAA Regional. But does it? The Hurricanes are cautiously optimistic about the weekend, as Texas Tech has the potential to put together a very good weekend, while Montana Durapau in the opening game for Bethune-Cookman will be a tough test for the Hurricanes. Miami will win this NCAA Regional, but it won't be the cakewalk some think it will be.