College | Story | 6/4/2021

NCAA Regional Preview

Vincent Cervino         Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game
Top 25: June 3 | College Player Report Database

Site Host Site Host
Fayetteville, AR Arkansas (1) Ruston, LA LA Tech (16)
Austin, TX Texas (2) Gainesville, FL Florida (15)
Knoxville, TN Tennessee (3) Eugene, OR Oregon (14)
Nashville, TN Vanderbilt (4) Greenville, NC East Carolina (13)
Tucson, AZ Arizona (5) Oxford, MS Ole Miss (12)
Fort Worth, TX TCU (6) Columbia, SC Old Dominion (11)
Starkville, MS Mississippi State (7) South Bend, IN Notre Dame (10)
Lubbock, TX Texas Tech (8) Palo Alto, CA Stanford (9)

"Left Side"

Fayetteville Regional

Team vs. Team
(1) 1. Arkansas vs. 4. NJIT
2. Nebraska vs. 3. Northeastern

Regional Overview: The Razorbacks have more-or-less carried the torch atop our rankings throughout the spring, a pedestal they were rarely challenged for upon their arrival at the No. 1 spot. That said, the hosts will play anything but nice for their guests and look to carry their regular season and SEC tournament momentum into the postseason and have perhaps the biggest weapon in all of college baseball with closer Kevin Kopps. Nebraska was the cream of the crop in the Big 10 this spring behind the performances of a trio bats in Jason Hallmark, Max Anderson and Luke Roskam, while Cade Povich is a proven ace who'll give the Huskers a legitimate chance in any bracket game. Speaking of arms, Head Coach Mike Glavine and his Northeastern Huskies have a trio of starters who all accrued north of 65 innings and maintained a sub-4.00 ERA, meaning they have the depth to go head-to-head against the offenses in the Regional with Cam Schlittler and Sebastian Keane being two prominent names for the 2022 MLB Draft. The Highlanders of NJIT are making their first postseason appearance in program history, capturing the league's automatic bid after incoming weather forced the cancellation of the end of the conference's tournament, after going 2-0 in their first two games (both one-run victories), one of which saw their top hitter Julio Marcano go yard for the 10th time this season.  

Don't Sleep On: It's easy to point to Arkansas and say it's a titanic feat for any of the other clubs to knock off the top seed, but Nebraska has been a consistent force throughout the spring as they won or split every series aside from one in the Big 10, which produced three Regional teams. The have the pieces in play to make some noise with a true game-changer in Hallmark leading the way, while Head Coach Will Bolt has a bevy of options on the mound to turn to with eight different arms logging at least 15 innings with a cumulative team ERA of 3.77. 

Prospect Watch: Like most Regionals, this one offers a little bit of everything depending on your prospect needs; fast riser up the boards? Nebraska's two-way Spencer Schwellenbach who has worked into the upper-90s this spring. Underclassmen? The Northeastern duo of arms in Schlittler and Keane are as good as advertised and Arkansas sophomores Robert Moore and Cayden Wallace have been catalysts throughout the spring. Add in Razorback outfielder Christian Franklin, the aforementioned Kopps and the of other prospects on the roster and it'll be an exciting
regional regardless the matchup. 

Ruston Regional

Team vs. Team
(16) 1. LA Tech vs. 4. Rider
2. NC State vs. 3. Alabama

Regional Overview: Conference USA is no slouch of a conference, sending four teams to the NCAA postseason, two of whom are national seeds in Old Dominion and the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. On the year, Head Coach Lane Burroughs led his club to a 40-18 record and his roster boasts the highly coveted “experience” card with veteran leadership throughout the lineup. From cornerstone pieces of the offense in Parker Bates, Hunter Wells and Steele Netterville to arms like Jonathan Fincher and Jarrett Whorff, this club is one of the older, more seasoned ones in the tournament. Rider will be making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010 after claiming the MAAC conference title and they have a pair of arms in Pete Soporowski and Frank Doelling who were instrumental in their success throughout 2021. NC State got red-hot when it mattered the mostly, taking each of their last four ACC series and went 2-2 in the conference tournament, ultimately losing the championship game to Duke. Keep your eyes on Alabama as the No. 3 seed as they’ll be anything but an easy opponent. Versatile, uber-athlete Peyton Wilson will set the pace and tone of the offense before getting to some of the middle-of-the-order sluggers like Zane Denton, Sam Praytor and Owen Diodati, who combined account for more than half the team’s home run totals. Dylan Smith will lead the pitching staff which has two invaluable members in the backend with William Freeman and Chase Lee, who’ve been near automatics this spring.

Don't Sleep On: As we said above, the Wolfpack got hot at the right time and they look to keep that momentum running with an opening round matchup against Alabama. The offense will be the carrying tool of the club as they can tack on runs in a variety of ways and are a sound, battle tested club 1-through-9 in the lineup. Tyler McDonough is a spark plug of sorts, the equivalent to Alabama's Peyton Wilson in their offense, in that he can play anywhere around the field, provides a jolt from the top of the order and has done nothing but perform since arriving on campus. Up and down the lineup pieces like Jonny Butler, Austin Murr, Jose Torres and Luca Tresh, just to name a few, have been staples for Elliott Avent, while left-hander Evan Justice makes for one of the most uncomfortable at-bats in college baseball and has been a revelation since moving to the backend of games. 

Prospect Watch: Tyler McDonough vs. Peyton Wilson. Both are eligible this spring, both are switch-hitters, both are highly versatile players who've played multiple positions throughout their careers, and both are instrumental in their teams making a run. Wilson, a catcher as a prep, has been the club's everyday second baseman this spring, showing off plenty of fast-twitch muscle while collecting a team-best 71 knocks with 21 extra-base hits, 9 of which were of the over-the-fence variety. McDonough also caught some in high school but has since transformed into a lockdown defender in center field and is in the midst of his best season yet with 14 home runs, nearly doubling his career totals, while hitting .347 and leading the team with 68 hits. 

Stanford Regional

Team vs. Team
  (9) 1. Stanford vs.
4. ND State
  2. UC Irvine vs.   3. Nevada

Regional Overview: Whoever Stanford decides to throw right-hander Brendan Beck against better be prepared for a barrage of strikes, a true four-pitch mix, and some of the more refined control in all of college baseball. Beck was recently tabbed the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, though he isn't the only Cardinal shutdown arm as closer Zach Grech put up video game numbers for a majority of the season and finished tied for the second most saves in the country with 13. Star sophomore outfielder Brock Jones is having a breakout 2021 campaign, but the Cardinal are hitting for solid power as a whole with seven different bats hitting 6+ home runs on the year. NDSU enters postseason play after taking the top-seeded Oral Roberts club to three games in the Summit League Championship, winning the series with a decisive 11-6 victory. Keep tabs on Bennett Hostetler who is hitting nearly .400 (!!) on the year with a .391 average, starting all 58 games for the Bison, connecting for a team-high 13 doubles with 8 home runs while the duo of Cade Feeney and Evan Sankey have been excellent on the mound. Nevada comes out of the Mountain West after going 22-9 in conference play and are winners of 8 out of their last 10, a momentum wave they hope to ride against UC Irvine. The offense could pose a problem for arms as they're hitting .324 as a club, led by Dillon Shrum (.479-15-47) despite playing in 10 less games than most of the offense, and he's one of three players to connect for double-digit home runs this spring. The Anteaters are winners in 14 of their last 15 games, including 3-of-4 against fellow Regional team UC Santa Barbara at the start of their streak. Coach Ben Orloff has his club rolling and we'll dive more into their success below. 

Don't Sleep On: This picking isn't going out on too much of a limb as UC Irvine climbed up to No. 13 in our most recent Top 25 and could be hosting in almost any other year. The club has a legit trio of starting arms, a pivotal area of any team looking to make a run as Michael Frias, Nick Pinto and Peter Van Loon have been consistent cogs throughout the spring, all making at least 12 starts while averaging more than a strikeout per inning. They also have three go-to arms out of the bullpen, another luxury not every club has, highlighted by closer Jacob King who pounds the strike zone, misses bats and rarely issues a free pass. Nathan Church and Mike Peabody have the ability to change any given game with a single at-bat and they're flanked by several other intriguing pieces, including the speed component from Luke Spillane. 

Prospect Watch: We touched upon Brendan Beck above and he's likely to be the first player out of this regional to hear his name called in this July's draft, though some of his underclassmen teammates are projected high-end picks in sophomore Brock Jones and freshmen Drew Bowser and Tommy Troy. Beck may not run the fastball up to into the mid-90s but he'll work a very comfortable 89-92 mph over the course of an entire outing, mixing and matching while making for some very uncomfortable at-bats as he can simply put the baseball wherever he wants. 

Lubbock Regional

Team vs. Team
  (8). 1. Texas Tech vs.   4. Army
  2. UCLA vs.   3. UNC

Regional Overview:
In many ways this Texas Tech team is very similar to the Texas Tech of year’s past in that they’re one of the best offenses in the country. The Red Raiders have had some inconsistencies, mainly on the pitching side, but one of those has not been the emergence of grad senior Patrick Monteverde, whose established himself as the ace of the team. Jace Jung is a star in college baseball with massive power and the ability to completely take over a series. Veterans like Cal Conley, Dru Baker, and Braxton Fulford will all have roles to play as Texas Tech looks to be primed for a deep run. UCLA earns the No. 2 seed in this conference after an up-and-down season. A consensus preseason top-5 team, UCLA has had trouble living up to its expectations, though the talent is still there. They’re very deep on the mound with guys like Zach Pettway, Nick Nastrini, and Jesse Bergin, while Matt McLain is a potential first-rounder in this year’s draft. JT Schwartz is finally healthy and looking like one of the best pure hitters in the country, too. North Carolina enjoyed a solid year and as such is the three seed. They have some stars who’ve led the team in Austin Love on the pitching side and Justice Thompson and Caleb Roberts on the hitting side. Love was recently Pitcher of the Week for his efforts while Thompson has been one of the biggest draft risers this spring. Army finished the year above .500 and earned the automatic bid courtesy of winning the Patriot League tournament.

Don’t Sleep On: UCLA’s talent. The Bruins entered as a top-5 team in the country in the preseason and though they struggled early in the season, no team from the West is as talented as UCLA. The rotation is extremely experienced and the star power of Matt McLain’s return from a hand injury could be enough to push UCLA over the competition and into a Super Regional.

Prospect Watch: Matt McLain is the big draw here as he’s an athletic shortstop who both hits and hits for power. The arms on UCLA are vast while positional guys like Noah Cardenas and JT Schwartz will attract attention. Texas Tech has Monteverde and Micah Dallas in the rotation along with a bevy on consistent performers like Baker and Conley. UNC’s top guys are their aforementioned big three led by the hard-throwing Love and the uber-talented Thompson.

Tucson Regional

Team vs. Team
  (5) 1. Arizona vs.   4. Grand Canyon
  2. Oklahoma State vs.   3. UCSB

Regional Overview: The Wildcats earned the No. 5 national seed and play host to what’s a pretty solid regional, top to bottom. Starting with the home team, Jay Johnson was recently tabbed the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and rightfully so as his offense is firing on all cylinders, literally, hitting .325 as a club with eight everyday starters sporting averages north of .300. Jacob Berry has been sensational as a true freshman, establishing himself as one of the best hitters in the country regardless of age, while the pitching staff will more than hold its own, holding opponents to a .255 average against while striking out more than a batter-per-inning as a whole. If we’re going to talk about Oklahoma State, we have to begin with Christian Encarnacion-Strand, one of the top bats in the entire Big 12, if not the country. On the year he hit .362-15-66 and slugged .674, proving to be a pivotal piece to the offense. On the flip side, Justin Campbell has been just as good on the mound and will give the Cowboys a legitimate chance to win whenever he ends up taking the mound. GCU will be making their NCAA tournament debut after winning the WAC tournament and square off against Arizona, who they played twice this spring, splitting the two-game set. They have an ace in Pierce Ohl and the offense has plenty of experienced pieces who produced in the regular season to make a difference. 

Don't Sleep On: Of all the No. 3 seeds on the left side of the bracket, the Gauchos may be the toughest of them all, led by a duo of arms in left-hander Rodney Boone and righty Michael McGreevy who combined for 30 starts, nearly 200 innings pitched, 226 strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA for both of them. McGreevy has the bigger arsenal of the two, working in the low-90s with a plus hook and the metrics that have teams seriously looking at the right-hander in the backend of the first round, though Boone can simply play catch on the mound, putting the ball where he wants it while finding nothing but success at the collegiate level. UCSB will need some offense to go along with the pitching and they have just that, whether it’s Jordan Sprinkle or Zach Rodriguez who leads the team in hitting, or Broc Mortensen with a team-leading 15 home runs. 

Prospect Watch: Arizona is loaded with underclass talent and Oklahoma State has pieces scattered throughout as well, as does Grand Canyon, but UCSB's Michael McGreevy will have his fair share of eyes on him, especially to see if he shows that 90-94 mph fastball that he was throwing towards the earlier portions of the year. Not only does he have the velocity in his back pocket, but the curveball is a true swing-and-miss pitch and his performance is on par with nearly any other arm in the country and the ultimate outcome could be hearing his name called in the first round. 

Oxford Regional

Team vs. Team
  (12) 1. Ole Miss vs.   4. SEMO

2. Southern Miss vs.
3. Florida State

Regional Overview: This isn't going to be an easy Regional and whoever wins it, deserves it. SEMO will likely send staff ace left-hander Dylan Dodd in game one against Ole Miss and that could quickly turn the tides if he continues to do what he has done all of 2021 (2.78 ERA, 90.2 IP, 113 K to 14 BB), establishing himself as a name to know for this July's draft. Ole Miss recently lost staff as Gunnar Hoglund, but the offense is capable of scoring runs in bunches, the opposition's running game is quickly neutralized by one of the best backstops in the country in Hayden Dunhurst, and left-hander Doug Nikhazy has as much big game experience as any arm in the country. When it comes to experience, Southern Miss can challenge any in the Regional in that department, something that's invaluable when playing in an environment like Shwayze, though RS-freshman Reed Trimble has been one of the top sticks this spring hitting .319-14-58 with 11 stolen bases. They'll be pitted against FSU who have found themselves inside the Top 25 more often than out of it, finishing at No. 24 in the most recent iteration and offer a balance on both sides of the ball, led by the nation's home run leader in Matheu Nelson, who has already blasted 22 this spring and left-hander Parker Messick, who has 121 punchouts in 84 innings pitched. 

Don't Sleep On: Florida State might be the No. 3 seed in this Regional but they're a legitimate Top 25 caliber team with an offense that has one of the nation's most potent hitters in the middle of the lineup and a pitching staff that features a trio of starters with a sub-4.00 ERA. Mike Martin Jr. looks to follow in his legendary father's footsteps of advancing the Noles to a Super Regional and beyond, but first they have to go up against a very talented and experienced Southern Miss club who very well could be the team advancing when it's all said and done. 

Prospect Watch: The Rebels have a premier name to know for each of the next three drafts, giving fans in Oxford a taste of things to come in junior left-hander Doug Nikhazy, sophomore catcher Hayden Dunhurst and true freshman shortstop Jacob Gonzalez. Nikhazy may not light up the radar guns but he has the pitchability and refined command that few offer around the country, while Dunhurst is an elite defender and Gonzalez has played like anything but a freshman, hitting .354 with 10 home runs and 32 walks to 30 strikeouts. 

Greenville Regional

Team vs. Team
  (13) 1. East Carolina vs.   4. Norfolk State
  2. Charlotte vs.   3. Maryland

Regional Overview: This will be an interesting Regional to pay close attention to as East Carolina spent significant time this spring in the top-10, Charlotte spent some quality time in the Top 25 and the Terrapins have been knocking on the door all spring. Norfolk State earned their bid by sweeping through the MEAC Championships, including a pair of one-run victories off North Carolina Central. The Pirates have a legitimate ace in Gavin Williams and as a team are hitting .302 on the year,, meaning they'll give most arms fits throughout the weekend. Both Charlotte and Maryland have young head coaches at the helm in Robert Woodard and Rob Vaughn and both have seen their programs ascend to new heights under their tutelage, finding the right commits for their programs and developing them once on campus. Austin Knight and LuJames Groover III have been fantastic in leading the 49ers offense throughout the spring while the pitching staff boasts plenty of experience and depth. Danny Hosley and Alsander Womack will pace the offense which as a whole swiped over 100 bags this spring, while Hosley will pull two-way duty as one of the top arms on the Spartan staff as well. 

Don't Sleep On: The fighting Terrapins of Maryland. They may be the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Regional, but there's a real chance they don't only make some waves but also advance onto the Super Regional. Freshman Matt Shaw has been sensational since stepping foot on campus and the hard-hitting Benjamin Cowles can change the course of a game with a single swing as evidenced by his 17 home runs in 2021, which ranks amongst the best in the country. Staff ace Sean Burke can cut through most lineups in the country and should hear his name called on Day 1 of the MLB Draft, though it's more than just Burke as underclassmen Nick Dean and Jason Savacool have been solid throughout the spring with a host of bullpen options to turn to. 

Prospect Watch: The potential for a Sean Burke (Maryland) vs. Connor Norby (ECU) matchup will be one all the scouts and fans alike in attendance will be paying extra close attention to. Opponents are hitting a measly .175 against the Maryland right-hander this spring but on the flip side, none of those hitters have been the East Carolina second baseman who enters Regional play with a .424 batting average, continually proving to be one of the top bats in the country while connecting for 15 home runs as well. 

Nashville Regional

Team vs. Team
  (4) 1. Vanderbilt vs.   4. Presbyterian
  2. Georgia Tech vs.   3. Indiana State

Regional Overview: Vanderbilt opens the weekend not only as a favorite to win the Regional, but as one of the contenders to win it all in Omaha, though there are still plenty of steps to take before thinking of TD Ameritrade. The offense is capable of putting up runs in bunches with big bats like Dominic Keegan, Isaiah Thomas and Carter Young, or utilizing the speed of Enrique Bradfield (42 stolen bags in 48 chances) and the duo of Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker on the mound need little introduction. Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin has roots with the Presbyterian program and the Blue Hose are coming off their first conference tournament victory, twice beating the No. 1 seed to bring home the hardware. The Georgia Tech and Indiana State game should be a doozy in a battle of left-handers who pound the zone with the Jackets' Brant Hurter and Geremy Guerrero of the Sycamores, though the Tech offense has the chance to blow up with seasoned pieces mixed around star freshman catcher Kevin Parada, who was recently tabbed the No. 1 prospect amongst collegiate prospects for the 2022 MLB Draft.

Don't Sleep On: Indiana State spent time within the Top 25 this spring and the Sycamores have a bonafide ace in left-hander Geremy Guerrero, who has been putting up video game-type numbers throughout the 2021 season. Opponents are hitting a mere .174 against him while averaging a strikeout-per-inning with just 13 walks in 93 1/3 innings and closer Connor Fenlong can quickly shorten a game from the backend, serving as a near automatic option for Head Coach Mitch Hannahs this spring. After losing the conference championship by one run in extra innings, this club will look to get out to a fast start with their offense, which is led by Jordan Schaffer and Max Wright who together lead the team in virtually every category. 

Prospect Watch: With the date of the MLB Draft being pushed back this summer to July, clubs have a few extra chances to evaluate prospects prior to making their selections, meaning Rocker and Leiter will get to build upon their outstanding 2021 campaigns. Though they "scuffled" in some starts towards the end of the spring, both are still considered top-10 picks and can be downright electric with the ability to shut down any offense and propel the Commodores into a deep run this postseason. 

"Right Side"

Austin Regional 

Team vs. Team
(15) 1. Texas vs. 4. Southern
2. Arizona State vs. 3. Fairfield

Regional Overview: At least on paper, this Regional looks like it should play out how the committee seeded it when looking at the caliber of teams along with No. 2 overall seed Texas. The Longhorns have had a fantastic season thanks to a strong middle-of-the-order combination in Ivan Melendez and Zach Zubia, but the pitching staff was the story here. Projected first-round pick Ty Madden leads the charge while Pete Hansen has also been excellent. Arizona State is a bit of a surprising two seed here, but the Sun Devils really turned it on late in the year to get hot and secure an at-large bid. Ethan Long is one of the hottest hitters in the country and though the pitching staff has seen its fair share of injuries, they still have big left-hander Justin Fall. Fairfield had a dream season as the Stags were one of the last undefeated teams before finishing with a 37-3 record and finishing with an at-large bid after getting upset in the conference tournament; they’ll be down a man after losing team captain Mike Caruso to injury last week. Southern was one of the earlier conference tourney upsets as they took down Jackson State, who went 24-0 in conference play before getting upset; the Jaguars finished the season below .500.

Don’t Sleep On: The Stags. Fairfield might not have had much in the way of an out-of-conference schedule but they still finished in the top-five of RPI and led the country in team ERA, with Texas just behind at No. 2. Looking at the pitching stat sheet looks like a bunch of golf scores but there’s no shortage of shutdown arms including starters Michael Sansone and Jake Noviello. The country was clamoring for the Stags to be ranked and this is their best opportunity to show the country it can do some damage.

Prospect Watch: The top prospect in the Austin Regional is Texas’ ace Ty Madden. Whether he’ll go game one or two is still unknown but Madden possesses a workhorse frame to go along with mid-90s heat, touching higher, and a plus slider. Ivan Melendez, Eric Kennedy, and Mike Antico are all prospects too for the Horns and Arizona State’s top draft prospects include shortstop Drew Swift and left-hander Justin Fall.

Gainesville Regional

Team vs. Team
(15) 1. Florida vs. 4. South Florida
2. Miami vs. 3. South Alabama

Regional Overview: The participating teams in the Gainesville Regional have all had their fair share of streaks throughout the season, with a mix of good and bad coming to a head in the form of a double-elimination round robin. The Gators were the unanimous No. 1 team in the preseason before a slew of injuries and middling results hindered their greatest strength: pitching depth. Ace Tommy Mace is still here along with new closer Jack Leftwich and sophomore standout Hunter Barco. Jud Fabian leads the charge offensively as does the red-hot Jacob Young and Nathan Hickey. Two-seed Miami really picked it up late in the season as they’re one of the younger teams in the field. Adrian Del Castillo has been good-not-great but true freshman standout Yohandy Morales leads the team in home runs. South Alabama is the three seed and they captured both the regular season title as well as the conference tournament title for the Sun Belt’s automatic bid. Ethan Wilson is the star here as his blend of power and athleticism makes him a potential first round pick, though Michael Sandle has provided solid production and fireman reliever Miles Smith has led the team in ERA and is second in innings pitched. South Florida is the surprise team here as the four seed as they downed UCF in the final of the American Conference tournament. Jack Jasiak is a bona fide Friday night arm for the Bulls as he’ll be able to match up against anyone in the bracket and AAC tourney MVP Daniel Cantu has big left-handed power and has been hot lately. 

Don’t Sleep On: South Alabama. The Jaguars were the best team in the Sun Belt from start to finish and star Ethan Wilson is getting hot. We’ve seen players take over Regionals before and Wilson certainly has this capability, but even outside of Wilson, what Coach Mark Calvi has built in Mobile is impressive. The Jaguars are a consistent force and this could be their way of showing the country what kind of program they’ve built. 

Prospect Watch: As far as projected first-rounders there are plenty here with Florida’s Jud Fabian and Tommy Mace, Miami’s Adrian Del Castillo, and South Alabama’s Ethan Wilson. Mace is probably the safest bet to go the highest here with the other three having their share of ups and downs. Nathan Hickey, Kris Armstrong, and Jack Leftwich are three other names for the Gators while Alex Toral and Raymond Gil are names from Miami. USF has some intriguing players, most of which are eligible for the draft in 2022. 

South Bend Regional

Team vs. Team
(10) 1. Notre Dame vs. 4. Central Michigan
2. UCONN vs. 3. Michigan

Regional Overview: In one of the more puzzling decisions the committee made, Notre Dame is certainly hosting a Regional but does not possess a top-eight seed, instead coming in at the No. 10 national seed for the tournament. The Irish had a fantastic season in Head Coach Link Jarrett’s second at the helm as they finished 30-11 and won the regular season in the ACC. It’s a veteran team for the Irish with Niko Kavadas leading the charge with 16 home runs and an OBP north of .450. Tanner Kohlhepp has been their top arm as a fireman reliever while the rest of the rotation has certainly impressed. UCONN is a dangerous two seed as though the Huskies didn’t get to play certain portions of their schedule, they still have the star power to pull the upset. Veteran Kyler Fedko hit .411 with 12 bombs on the season while they have a true ace in Ben Casparius who should be able to match up with anyone in the country; keep an eye on two-way talent Reggie Crawford, who's one of the more fun players in the country. The defending national runners-up, Michigan was a bit of a surprise to make the field but we know better than to count out an Erik Bakich-led team. The Wolverines’ strength is their depth as they have a ton of effective options both offensively and on the mound along with the veterans to make a run. Central Michigan is the four seed and looks to be one of the stronger four seeds in the country. The Chippewas finished sixth nationally in ERA and are led by a pair of aces in Jordan Patty and burgeoning MAC star Andrew Taylor. 

Don’t Sleep On: The Chippewas. As was mentioned earlier, the boys from Mount Pleasant are absolutely legit, sporting a staff ERA of 3.30 that was good for sixth in the entire country. Andrew Taylor will likely get the ball in game one against Notre Dame and all he’s done this year is pitch to a laughable ERA of 1.21 while racking up 120 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings. Taylor pounds the zone too, and after winning 40 games this year the Chippewas certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, nor should they have been a four seed. 

Prospect Watch: Notre Dame has some of the top draft prospects in the event led by slugger Niko Kavadas, who finds himself near the top of the leaderboard in terms of exit velocity on balls in play. Spencer Myers and Tanner Kohlhepp are other Fighting Irish that should get draft interest while Michigan has a number of intriguing senior signs. UCON’s Ben Casparius has top-five round potential while Fedko and others should also receive long looks, especially from performance-based model teams. 

Starkville Regional

Team vs. Team
(7) 1. Mississippi State vs. 4. Samford
2. VCU vs. 3. Campbell

Regional Overview: Mississippi State scuffled to the finish, getting blown out by two run-ruled games in Hoover before eventually coming down with the seventh overall national seed. The Bulldogs are one of the most well-rounded teams on both offense and defense but they were exceptional on the mound in terms of striking hitters out as they lead the country in strikeouts-per-nine innings. Will Bednar and Christian MacLeod have been as advertised and Landon Sims has been arguably the best reliever in the country, while veterans Tanner Allen, Luke Hancock, and Rowdey Jordan lead the way on offense. VCU is not your typical two seed but they made it to Starkville both on the strength of their out-of-conference wins and their close to 20-game win streak to close out the season. The Rams are legit and boast one of the best scoring units in the country, that finished sixth in terms of runs per game, and are led by budding star third baseman Tyler Locklear. Campbell receives an at-large bid as the three seed after failing to capture the Big South tournament crown. Regardless, the Camels are a force to be reckoned with as this is now the second team in the top-six in terms of scoring to be paired up in Starkville, so expect some fireworks in the first game against VCU. Spencer Packard has been one of the more consistent bats during his time in school while Zach Neto enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign and is looking like a quality prospect. Samford won the Southern Conference tournament and they too were on the scoring leaderboard for 2021. Brooks Carlson and Tyler McManus led the way in terms of offensive production but don’t count out Sonny DiChiara, who launched 15 home runs despite a .265 batting average and has prodigious raw power. 

Don’t Sleep On: VCU. The Rams were arguably the best team in that coastal region of states throughout the course of the year and they have numerous non-conference victories over local programs like Virginia and Virginia Tech. VCU is legit and Tyler Locklear is a legit mid-major star with the opportunity to really announce himself on the national stage. Very few teams in the country are hotter than the Rams entering the tournament and with the Bulldogs limping in to the Field of 64, VCU advancing to the Supers is a very real possibility. 

Prospect Watch: Basically the entirety of Mississippi State’s starting roster will be drafted in 2021, save for Landon Sims and Logan Tanner, who will be first rounders next year. Bednar and MacLeod are day one prospects while Eric Cerantola is a wild card with electric stuff but couldn’t prove that he could start this year. VCU’s Danny Watson will attract interest from model-oriented teams while Locklear is a big prospect for next year; Campbell lost Cam Cowan to injury early in the year while a number of Samford’s big hitters could be popped. 

Fort Worth Regional

Team vs. Team
(6) 1. TCU vs. 4. McNeese State
2. Oregon State vs. 3. Dallas Baptist

Regional Overview: TCU has had a year of ups and downs but the Horned Frogs certainly finished their season on a high note, running the gauntlet in the Big 12 tournament and capturing the conference’s automatic big in the process. TCU has the stars by the way of the pitching staff with Russell Smith and Austin Krob combining to be as good as anyone in the country, though the offense was the big story this season. TCU is fourth in the country in runs scored with a deep, talented offense, though the Regional could serve as a springboard nationally for star freshman Brayden Taylor. They’ve got the speed to put pressure on teams too, with five players recording at least 10 bags on the year and finishing fourth nationally in steals. Oregon State is the region’s two seed, as it’s always dangerous when the playoff lights come on and Kevin Abel toes the rubber. Offensively, captain Troy Claunch leads a veteran offense but will undoubtedly miss the bat of Jacob Melton, who will miss the rest of the year with injury. Dallas Baptist is the three seed here and has been a trendy upset pick as the Patriots are once again the class of the Missouri Valley. They have a number of power arms led by Dominic Hamel and Rhett Kouba that throw fuel while the rest of the offense is veteran and performed this year. McNeese won the Southland tournament and will feature one of the stars, and best names, of the series in Clayton Rasbeary. The senior crushed 12 home runs and hit .360 on the year. 

Don’t Sleep On: DBU Power arms. The Patriots have struck out a lot of opposing hitters in 2021, as Dominic Hamel himself has struck out 123 in just 80 innings pitched. In addition to Hamel and fellow starter Rhett Kouba, Luke Eldred has been an extremely effective reliever while Peyton Sherlin has a big arm and led the team in saves, too. 

Prospect Watch: Arms lead the way as the top prospects in this Regional including TCU southpaws Smith and Krob along with DBU ace Dominic Hamel. TCU’s Johnny Ray is a bit of a wild card and they should have a number of senior signs including Hunter Wolfe. Kevin Abel is a big draft wild card as he’s got the opportunity to make himself some money in the Regional with a strong showing against a quality opponent. 

Columbia Regional

Team vs. Team
(11) 1. Old Dominion vs. 4. Jacksonville
2. South Carolina vs. 3. Virginia

Regional Overview: Old Dominion, congratulations you guys! You will host your very own Regional as the No. 1 seed except it won’t be at home but rather at the home of your SEC-tested No. 2 seed, so good luck! But seriously, it’s hard to think of a team that had a better season and got knee-capped harder than the Monarchs, but if 2021 is any indication they won’t let that stop them. The offense here is the calling card for Old Dominion as they were top-10 in the country in scoring and led the country in home runs. Andy Garriola is one of the top hitters in the country and leads this offense, though Kyle Battle isn’t far behind in terms of sheer numbers with eighteen home runs of his own. Add in the emergence of true freshmen Carter Trice and Kenny Levari and you have a truly scary offense with rout potential. South Carolina is the de facto host and No. 2 seed of the Regional. The Gamecocks have a ton of talent who were just very streaky at times with an offense led by big slugger Wes Clarke who belted 22 home runs. Clarke’s home run power came and went with an early season barrage that ended with just six home runs in the back half of the schedule; Andrew Eyster and Brady Allen also had double digit home runs. The pitching staff is uber talented but again, mired by inconsistency. Thomas Farr is the Friday ace but true freshman Will Sanders has also impressed. Virginia enters as one of the most dangerous three seeds in the tournament as they’re playing hot at the right time. Andrew Abbott is one of the more talented pitchers in the country while Mike Vasil is a former projected first-rounder whose stuff has come and gone. Zack Gelof and Kyle Teel lead a mature offense that really grinds at-bats and the team on the whole plays quality defense. Jacksonville pulled off the upset in the ASUN tournament and won the conference’s automatic bid; the Dolphins won just 16 games and three games in conference prior to the tournament.

Don’t Sleep On: Virginia. The Cavaliers were a top-10 team in the preseason on paper and as of late it looks like they’ve begun to play that way. Abbott is a legitimate ace at the college level, opting for another year in Charlottesville to prove he can start, which he certainly has. Kyle Teel has emerged as the team’s best pure hitter with a sweet left-handed swing and guys like Nic Kent, Zack Gelof, and Chris Newell have picked up from poor starts; this team can absolutely be a sneaky Omaha team given their talent on paper. 

Prospect Watch:
Andrew Abbott is likely the first draft selection out of this group though teammates like Zack Gelof and Mike Vasil shouldn’t be far behind. Scouts love the South Carolina arms like Thomas Farr and Julian Bosnic as they have big stuff while Brady Allen and Wes Clarke should also have solid selections. Old Dominion’s hitters are certainly likely to attract intrigue led by star Andy Garriola. 

Eugene Regional

Team vs. Team
(14) 1. Oregon vs. 4. Central Connecticut
2. Gonzaga vs. 3. Louisiana State

Regional Overview: Oregon was one of the surprise stories of the year as the Ducks enjoyed a great season that culminated with a top-three finish in the Pac-12 and, as such, they will host their own Regional. Aaron Zavala is the breakout bat here as he hit close to .400 for the majority of the season and has enjoyed a lot of draft intrigue as a result. Kenyon Yovan is another terrific story as his pitching career was almost derailed to injury, but he’s instead reemerged as a potent power hitter, hitting .319 with 14 home runs this season. They have a pair of formidable arms in Robert Ahlstrom and Cullen Kafka who can compete against anyone in the country. Don’t sleep on West Coast champion Gonzaga, who has a plethora of power arms even if they’ll be without two-way player Gabriel Hughes. Alek Jacob has struck out almost everyone he’s faced and threw a no-hitter earlier in the year while William Kempner has excellent metrics on his stuff with mid-90s heat. Brody Jessee is another power arm they possess and along with veteran position prospects like Ernie Yake the Zags are certainy capable of making a run. This will be the last hurrah for Hall of Fame coach Paul Mainieri as LSU got an at-large bid and will be the three seed in this Regional. They’ve dealt with injuries and are extremely young but have a bona fide ace in Landon Marceaux who will be going game one. Look for freshman stars like Dylan Crews and Tre Morgan to show out as they’re the future of the Tigers who will be looking to get an early taste of Omaha. Central Connecticut downed Bryant in the Northeast conference tourney and received the conference’s automatic bid. Charlie Hickey is the school’s winningest coach while Buddy Dewaine won the conference tournament MVP as the Blue Devils have established themselves as one of the top mid-major teams in the northeast. 

Don’t Sleep On: Gonzaga’s power arms. The Zags don’t have quite the depth that a Power 5 school like Oregon might have, but in a one-on-one matchup Gonzaga will be able to empty its clip of power relievers that are tough to hit. They’ve been tested all year both in and out of conference when they were on the field though they have less games played than other teams in the field due to a COVID shutdown during the season. 

Prospect Watch: Aaron Zavala is one of the headliners here as thanks to his performance he’s steadily climbed draft boards. Cullen Kafka and Kenyon Yovan also have serious draft interest while LSU’s Landon Marceaux looks like a day one selection thanks to his performance. Jaden Hill would’ve been one to watch too but he underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the season. 

Knoxville Regional

Team vs. Team
(3) 1. Tennessee vs.
4. Wright State
2. Duke vs.
3. Liberty

Regional Overview: In this scout’s opinion, the Knoxville Regional represents both the hardest Regional field for a host team and the problem with the committee’s decisions when it comes to seeding and ranking teams. Tennessee enjoyed the best season in recent memory and they’ve been awarded the No. 3 national seed as a result. Tony Vitello is the front-runner for Coach of the Year as he’s transformed both the culture and the program in Knoxville. Chad Dallas is a quality Friday night starter while the offense is both deep and relentless thanks to the emergence of first-team All-SEC shortstop Liam Spence. Jake Rucker is a consummate performer and Max Ferguson has been hot recently. No team in the country is hotter than Duke who earns a No. 2 seed after being on fire during the month of May and capturing the ACC tournament title. Joey Loperfide earned tournament MVP honors and is the team’s leading hitter while transfer RJ Schreck has shown immense power with fifteen home runs to his name. The Blue Devils are scorching hot and present a tough challenge for anyone. Liberty is the conference’s three seed despite finding itself in the top-20 of the Perfect Game Top 25. The Flames absolutely took care of conference matters and downed Power 5 schools in the non-conference during the process. Trevor Delaite has been superhuman for Liberty with 100 innings totaled and an ERA south of 2.00 while true freshman Trey Gibson has the makings of an ace. Four seed Wright State might be the toughest four seed in the country as they led the country in scoring and ran through the Horizon League regular season and tournament. The offense is relentless led by potential first-round pick Tyler Black and incredibly deep while Jake Schrand has quality stuff and should be able to compete with some of the top teams in the bracket. 

Don’t Sleep On: Wright State. Basically every seed could have been included here but I want to note that Wright State is a really really good team. In my opinion they were closer to a two seed than a four seed as the top offense in the country and has star power throughout. Their hitters rake and have home run juice so this is absolutely a team that could upset top-seeded Tennessee and frankly the Volunteers should be feeling pretty bummed about being matched up with them. 

Prospect Watch: Tennessee’s entire lineup has a good chance at getting drafted with Ferguson, Rucker, and Spence leading the way. Chad Dallas is another arm with a good chance at being drafted while the lost Jackson Leath could also be a target. Duke has a trio of intriguing prospects in Ethan Murray, Michael Rothenburg, and Cooper Stinson, all of which have draft interest. Still, it’s likely Wright State’s Tyler Black who will be selected first out of this region especially with a big performance this weekend. 
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