Indiana might be known around the country for its offense, and historically speaking, Florida State is known for its consistently solid offensive lineups. But interestingly, both the Hoosiers and Seminoles enter the Tallahassee Super Regional this weekend with very solid weekend rotations.
We give the Seminoles the edge in this department, and they've been very good on the mound for the most part the past few weeks with right-handed pitchers Scott Sitz and Luke Weaver and left-handed pitcher Brandon Leibrandt leading the charge.
Sitz isn't an overpowering arm for the Seminoles, but he's a master magician on the mound and does a great job of mixing his pitches, while commanding the zone. Meanwhile, Leibrandt is a talented left-handed pitcher who typically pitches in the upper-80s with his fastball, while Weaver has been one of the best stories of the second half of the season for the Seminoles.
Weaver has had a variety of roles at FSU, including reliever, then midweek starter earlier this season. But the Seminoles wanted to shake things up and put Weaver in the weekend rotation about midway through, and that decision has worked like a charm.
Weaver has a fastball in the low-90s, with the ability to get into the mid-90s at times, while also commanding his pitches well and being a very consistent arm. Weaver has started 14 games this season with a 1.95 ERA in 92 1/3 innings of work. Weaver has struck out 114, walked 17 and teams are hitting him at a .215 clip.
The Hoosiers also have a solid rotation entering the weekend, but there's no doubt imposing 6-foot-10, 250-pound, right-hander Aaron Slegers is the ringleader of this trio. Slegers has a rather intriguing arm with a fastball sitting anywhere from 89-92, with the ability to get into the mid-90s with good sink on his pitches. Slegers has a 1.94 ERA in 92 2/3 innings of work, along with 53 strikeouts and 13 walks.
Junior left-handed pitcher Joey DeNato is quite the opposite of Slegers. Slegers isn't going to overpower a lot of guys with a blow-away fastball, but he's consistent and knows how to use his pitches. DeNato, considered a had-nosed pitcher, has a 2.65 ERA in 91 2/3 innings of work.
Will Coursen-Carr or Kyle Hart will finish out the weekend rotation. Coursen-Carr allowed just a run in five innings of work against Austin Peay last weekend in the Bloomington Regional, while Hart started two weeks ago and has 15 starts with a 3.01 ERA in 83 2/3 innings of work this season. Neither Coursen-Carr or Hart are blow-away pitchers, but both certainly are solid options.
The Hoosiers and Seminoles are balanced clubs, and the bullpen is no exception, as both enter the weekend with some very solid options on the back end of things.
Beginning with the Hoosiers, they have a talented youngster in right-handed pitcher Scott Effross. Effross isn't a big-time strikeout pitcher, but he tends to find ways to get the job done. Effross has appeared in 26 games and has a 1.97 ERA in 59 1/3 innings of work.
Ryan Halstead has been a very quality closer for the Hoosiers this season with 44 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings, along with 11 saves, while Luke Harrison has appeared in 21 games and has a 2.87 ERA in 37 2/3 innings and Brian Korte has a 1.76 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. Also keep an eye on Evan Bell, who has appeared in 14 games and has a 3.41 ERA in 29 innings of work.
For the Seminoles, this is a surprisingly deep group of relievers with junior college transfer Robby Coles leading the way. Coles is a sinker, slider type of pitcher who throws from a low arm angle and can get up to 88-91 with his fastball, while Gage Smith, Billy Strode, Brandon Johnson and Bryant Holtmann are often-used relievers. Smith leads the team in appearances with 33 and has a 2.21 ERA in 40 2/3 innings, while Holtmann has received positive reviews from opposing coaches.
The Seminoles also could choose to pitch athletic and two-way freshman Jameis Winston. Winston has a fastball in the low-90s, and has excelled in both areas at times this spring. He has appeared in 16 games and has a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings. Interestingly, though he only has 18 strikeouts in those 25 innings, he's efficient and teams only are hitting him at a .179 clip.
The two teams are very close in this area, but we give a slight edge to FSU.
Typically Florida State is the most feared offensive team at Dick Howser Stadium. And sure, though the Seminoles are only hitting .287 for the season, they exploded at the plate last weekend. Well, even with those two factors, we're still giving the offensive edge to the Hoosiers.
Indiana has one of the nation's most potent offensive lineups, and it can go 11-12 players deep any given day. The Hoosiers enter the weekend hitting .305 as a club with hard-hitting catcher Kyle Schwarber leading the charge.
Schwarber is a stocky player who really could play either catcher or the outfield. But at the plate, he's considered a legitimate force to be reckoned with. Schwarber is hitting .372 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs, while third baseman Dustin DeMuth actually leads the team in hitting with a .396 average, OK pop with five homers and 40 RBIs, and designated hitter Scott Donley is considered a threat with a .357 average, four homers and 56 RBIs.
Also keep an eye on first baseman Sam Travis, who has good gap power with 20 doubles, nine homers and 51 RBIs on the season, while Michael Basil (.310/3/46) and Casey Smith (.308/5/31) both are talented hitters who can cause nightmares for opposing pitchers.
Lastly, when he plays, Nick Ramos at least has some power potential, while Chad Clark, who's only 5-foot-7, made headlines last weekend with his first home run of the season in a huge situation.
For the garnet and gold, DJ Stewart continues to lead the offense. FSU assistants Mike Bell and Mike Martin Jr., raved throughout fall workouts Stewart's power, and he certainly hasn't disappointed. Stewart is hitting .363 with 25 doubles, two triples, five homers and 56 RBIs.
Third baseman Jose Brizuela, who returned to the lineup last weekend after a couple of days suspended during the ACC tournament, continues to hit at a solid .325 clip with four homers and 43 RBIs, while junior outfielder Marcus Davis and veteran catcher Stephen McGee have both exceeded expectations, especially McGee, who has smacked nine homers and knocked in 51 runs.
Keep an eye on Brett Knief after hit a big home run last weekend in the Tallahassee Regional, while John Nogowski, Seth Miller and Josh Delph all are guys who are more than capable of going out there this weekend and having huge days at the plate despite not having great batting averages.
Indiana head coach Tracy Smith knew he'd have a very solid club entering the season, but he definitely was a little concerned about the defense before the season.
Well, the Hoosiers have been more than adequate defensively at times, but also have had their fair share of woes. For instance, the Hoosiers ranked 151st nationally in terms of fielding percentage.
Third baseman Dustin DeMuth is prone to making some mistakes with 18 errors this season, while shortstop Michael Basil is athletic, but also has 18 errors on the year. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers have a stable catcher in physical Kyle Schwarber, while in the outfield Justin Cureton showed off his defensive skills last weekend with an amazing grab in the Bloomington Regional.
As for Florida State, its defensive situation starts in good hands with catcher Stephen McGee. McGee's offensive strides this spring has garnered headlines, but he's also a good defender, and a "brick wall" behind the plate, according to FSU coach Mike Martin.
Jose Brizuela isn't always reliable third base, while young Giovanny Alfonzo has been a more than serviceable replacement for an injured Justin Gonzalez, while the right side of the infield isn't a big problem.
In the outfield, Davis is a very solid athlete, while when Jameis Winston actually plays in the field, he flashes a plus arm from right field. He tag teams things out there with Josh Delph, while in center field, both Seth Miller and Brett Knief have manned the position.
Though it might not seem like it on the surface, the Seminoles actually enter the weekend ranked 33rd nationally in terms of team defense.