Regionals Preview Part I
Breaking down the 64 teams in the 2011 Division I tournament
Charlottesville Regional (Davenport Field)
No. 1 Virginia (49-9)
Atlantic Coast Conference AQ (11th appearance, last 2010)
Virginia has a No. 1 national seed for the first time in program history after winning both the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Cavaliers will serve as a regional host for the fifth time, and second consecutive year after posting a Division I-high 49 victories. Virginia is making its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and has ACC Pitcher of the Year Danny Hultzen who leads the squad with a 10-3 record and 1.59 ERA. The junior also paces the league with 12.71 strikeouts per nine innings.
No. 2 East Carolina (39-19)
Conference USA At-Large (25th appearance, last 2009)
After placing third in the regular season race, and winning two of three games in the C-USA Tournament, the Pirates have been invited back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. It is ECU’s 11th appearance in the last 13 years. ECU boasts the top ERA in the league (2.58), led by reliever Brad Mincey (1.55 ERA), senior Seth Maness (1.88) and junior Kevin Brandt (2.26), who are 1-2-3 in the individual category.
No. 3 St. John’s (35-20)
Big East Conference At-Large (33rd appearance, last 2010)
The Red Storm fell short of repeating as Big East Champions, losing to Seton Hall 12-5 in the title game, but they earned an at-large bid to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. Senior first baseman Paul Karmas became the program’s all-time leader in hits with 245 in St. John’s last contest and ranks second on the team in batting (.319) behind shortstop Joe Panik, who tops the league with a .402 average, 59 runs scored and 86 hits.
No. 4 Navy (33-23-1)
Patriot League AQ (8th appearance, last 2002)
The Midshipmen rebounded from a last-place finish in the League last season to win both the regular season and tournament championships and earn their first NCAA appearance since 2002. Junior outfielder Alex Azor paces the conference with 1.35 hits and 0.87 runs per game, while the Navy pitching staff led the League with a 4.94 ERA and set a school record with 414 strikeouts. Sophomore starting pitcher Ben Nelson set a League tournament record with 18 strikeouts in 18.1 innings pitch to earn MVP honors.
Los Angeles Regional (Jackie Robinson Stadium)
No. 1 UCLA (33-22)
Pac-10 Conference AQ (17th appearance, last 2010)
The Bruins capped off the regular season by winning two of three from Arizona State to claim their first outright Pac-10 title since 1986. UCLA has earned a NCAA regional bid for the fifth time in the last six years thanks to leading the Pac-10 with a staff ERA of 2.30. The Bruins are paced by junior right-hander Trevor Bauer (12-2), who leads the league with a 1.27 ERA and 189 strikeouts.
No. 2 Fresno State (40-14)
Western Athletic Conference AQ (32nd appearance, last 2009)
The Bulldogs shared the regular season WAC title with Hawaii, but cruised through the league tournament for the conference title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six years, including their national title run in 2008. Junior Dusty Robinson, the WAC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP, sparks the Bulldogs offensively with a .318 batting average, 20 doubles, 15 home runs and 54 RBI.
No. 3 UC Irvine (39-16)
Big West Conference At-Large (7th appearance, last 2010)
The Anteaters will make back-to-back appearances in the Lost Angeles Regional after earning their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine leads the Big West with a team batting average of .299, while senior infielder Drew Hillman paces the league with 47 RBI. Junior ace Matt Summers is coming off pitching the program’s fourth no-hitter – a 2-0 win against Long Beach State -- which lowered his ERA to a conference-leading 1.74.
No. 4 San Francisco (31-23)
West Coast Conference AQ (2nd appearance, last 2006)
The Dons claimed the winner-take-all regular season finale against Gonzaga, earning just their second NCAA Tournament berth in school history. USF boasts a solid defensive club that has posted a .984 field percentage this season. Sophomore Jason Mahood enters the tournament on high note after batting .600 with four RBI and four runs scored in the Gonzaga series. The Dons have played both UCLA and Fresno State this season, winning the final game against the Bulldogs.
Fort Worth Regional (Lupton Stadium)
No. 1 TCU (42-17)
Mountain West Conference At-Large (10th appearance, last 2010)
The Horned Frogs will be looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to New Mexico in the MWC Championship game as they make their eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals, and 10th overall. TCU is one of just 13 teams to appear in each of the last eight regionals, and one of six programs to host each of the last three seasons. The Horned Frogs lead the MWC in both batting (.308) and ERA (3.16), while junior right-hander Kyle Winkler (8-2, 1.40 ERA) has struck out 98 batters in 90 innings pitched.
No. 2 Oklahoma (41-17)
Big 12 Conference At-Large (33rd appearance, last 2010)
The Sooners will appear in their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid on the merits of a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma is one of the nation’s top hitting clubs, and paces the league with a .316 batting average, while the Sooners are solid on the mound with a 2.99 ERA. The Sooners have won 11 of their last 15 games as they begin their quest for a repeat trip to Omaha.
No. 3 Dallas Baptist (39-17)
Independent At-Large (2nd appearance, last 2008)
As the lone independent in the field, the Patriots proved their case to the NCAA Selection Committee by posting victories against the likes of Rice, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Charlotte. Senior outfielder Jason Krizan leads the team with a .431 batting average, 10 homers, and 76 RBI, and recently set a new NCAA single-season doubles record (37). The Patriots went 0-2 in their only NCAA Regional in 2008.
No. 4 Oral Roberts (36-20)
Summit League AQ (23rd appearance, last 2010)
The Golden Eagles are back in the postseason for the 14th consecutive season after extending their streak of Summit League titles to 14, which ranks as the second-longest stretch in college baseball history. ORU’s NCAA Regional streak is the fifth-longest active streak in the nation. The Golden Eagles led the Summit League in both pitching (3.38 ERA) and defense (.968) with starting hurlers Drew Bowen (5-2, 1.96 ERA) and Alex Gonzalez (8-5, 2.61 ERA) leading the way.
Houston Regional (Reckling Park)
No. 1 Rice (41-19)
Conference USA AQ (17th appearance, last 2010)
The Owls have been awarded a national seed (No. 8) for the fourth time in the last six years after winning both the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. Rice is making its 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Junior Anthony Rendon leads the Owls with a .327 batting average, 20 doubles and a C-USA-leading 57 runs scored, while senior left-handed reliever Tony Cingrani paces the team with a 1.76 ERA and 12 saves.
No. 2 Baylor (29-26)
Big 12 Conference At-Large (17th appearance, last 2010)
The Bears are back in the tournament for the third consecutive season after placing fifth in the Big 12 standings this year. Baylor has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 12 times in the last 14 years. The Bears are led by utility player Brooks Pinckard, who is the starting centerfielder and recently moved into the weekend pitching rotation. The two-time All-Big 12 selection leads the league with 32 stolen bases, and has compiled a 5-2 record and 3.81 ERA on the season.
No. 3 California (31-20)
Pac-10 Conference At-Large (12th appearance, last 2010)
The Golden Bears were awarded an at-large berth for the third time in the last four years following a roller coaster season that saw the program face elimination and then reinstatement. It is the first time Cal has advanced to the postseason three times in a four-year span. The Bears boast the second-best ERA in the Pac-10 at 2.83, and the top fielding percentage in the league (.977). Right-handers Erik Johnson (6-3, 2.08 ERA) and Kevin Miller (6-4, 2.27 ERA) own two of top five ERAs in a league overflowing with pitching talent.
No. 4 Alcorn State (26-27)
Southwestern Athletic Conference AQ (1st appearance)
The Braves have been playing Division I baseball since 1978, but it is the first time the program has advanced to the NCAA Tournament. ASU won the SWAC Eastern Division regular season title, and defeated the league’s Western Division winner Southern in the finale of the conference tournament. Designated-hitter Kilby Perdomo leads the Braves offensively with a .356 batting average, 10 homers and 49 RBI.
Tallahassee Regional (Dick Howser Stadium)
No. 1 Florida State (42-17)
Atlantic Coast Conference At-Large (49th appearance, last 2010)
The No. 5 nationally-seeded Seminoles extended their streak of NCAA Regional appearances to 34 -- the second-longest in the nation behind Miami’s 39 consecutive trips -- after winning the ACC Atlantic Division title and posting a runner-up finish in the league tournament. FSU is scoring 7.12 runs per game, and is one of the top home run-hitting squads in the nation with 54. Junior left-hander Sean Gilmartin paces the ACC with a 1.52 ERA along with a stellar 11-1 record. FSU is 21-14 this year’s NCAA Tournament field.
No. 2 UCF (38-21)
Conference USA At-Large (10th appearance, last 2004)
The Knights used a fourth-place finish in the C-USA and a 5-4 record against three national seeds (Florida, FSU and Rice) to land a No. 2 seed as an at-large selection. UCF has collected the program’s most wins since 2005, and boasts the second-best batting average (.305) among C-USA teams. The Knights are also on pace to set a school record in season fielding percentage (.979). D.J. Hicks leads the Knights with a .343 batting average, and league-best 62 RBI.
No. 3 Alabama (33-26)
Southeastern Conference At-Large (19th appearance, last 2010)
The Crimson Tide claimed its fourth consecutive NCAA regional berth, and 14th in the last 17 years, after tying for second place in the SEC Western Division standings. Alabama ranks fifth in the SEC with a 3.74 ERA with senior Nathan Kilcrease (7-4, 3.18 ERA) anchoring the staff. Second-team All-SEC centerfielder Taylor Dugas paces the Tide with a .345 batting average, 57 runs scored and six home runs.
No. 4 Bethune-Cookman (35-22)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference AQ (12th appearance, last 2010)
After blowing through league play with an 18-0 record, the Wildcats won their sixth consecutive tournament title by outscoring foes 35-8. B-CU has won an NCAA-record 46 conference games in a row. The Wildcats’ only victory in NCAA Tournament action was a 7-4 victory against Florida International in the 2002 Gainesville Regional. Senior catcher Peter O’Brien, the MEAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, is batting .310 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 65 RBI.
College Station Regional (Olsen Field)
No. 1 Texas A&M (42-18)
Big 12 Conference At-Large (27th appearance, last 2010)
After claiming a walk-off victory against Missouri to take home their second consecutive Big 12 title, the Aggies will make a school-record fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Texas A&M has won 11 of its last 13 games, and will host an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2008. The Aggies rank second in the Big 12 with a 2.68 ERA, but lost ace John Stilson to a season-ending torn labrum. Sophomore outfielder Tyler Naquin garnered Big 12 Player of the Year honors after leading the league with a .379 batting average and 58 runs score.
No. 2 Arizona (39-19)
Pac-10 Conference At-Large (32nd appearance, last 2010)
The Wildcats finished the regular season in strong fashion, winning 12 of their last 15 games to finish fourth in the Pac-10 standings to earn their second consecutive NCAA Regional berth. Arizona has advanced to the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons. The Wildcats lead the Pac-10 with a .322 batting average and pace the league in practically every offensive category. Sophomore right-hander Kurt Heyer is the Wildcats’ top pitcher with an 8-3 record and 2.32 ERA.
No. 3 Seton Hall (33-23)
Big East Conference AQ (16th appearance, last 2001)
After being picked 11th in the Big East preseason poll, the Pirates earned a No. 5 seed in the league tournament and defeated No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 St. John’s en route to their first tournament title since 2001. SHU is riding an eight-game winning streak entering NCAA Regionals, and has won 13 of its last 15 contests. Senior pitcher Joe DiRocco leads the Pirates’ pitching staff with an 8-1 record and 1.68 ERA.
No. 4 Wright State (36-17)
Horizon League AQ (4th appearance, last 2009)
The Raiders won the league tournament title to advance to NCAA Regionals for the fourth time in program history, and third time in the last six years. WSU has won five of its last six games, and is batting a stellar .329 entering the postseason. Jake Hibberd leads the conference with a .412 batting average along with nine home runs and 56 RBI.
Clemson Regional (Kingsmore Stadium)
No. 1 Clemson (41-18)
Atlantic Coast Conference At-Large (36th appearance, last 2010)
The Tigers are on a tear entering NCAA Regionals, winning 27 of their last 33 contests after starting the season 14-12. Clemson is hosting a regional for the 13th time in school history. ACC Player of the Year Brad Miller sparks the Tigers offensively. The shortstop leads the ACC with a .419 batting average, and has contributed five homers, 46 RBI and 21 stolen bases. The pitching staff sports a 3.12 ERA – the best by a Clemson team since 1996.
No. 2 Connecticut (41-17-1)
Big East Conference At-Large (17th appearance, last 2010)
The Huskies claimed the Big East regular season title by 3.5 games, and despite losing to Seton Hall in the tournament, their résumé earned the squad a No. 2 seed. UConn is making back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances for the first time since 1993-94. Outfielder George Springer leads the Huskies with a .361 batting average, 12 homers and 74 RBI, while pitcher Matt Barnes has compiled a stellar 11-3 record and 1.12 ERA.
No. 3 Coastal Carolina (41-18)
Big South Conference AQ (10th appearance, last 2010)
The Chanticleers cruised through the Big South Tournament to earn their fifth consecutive NCAA Regional berth and 10th in the last 11 years. Coastal has won eight of its last nine games and 16 of its last 19 contests. Tommy La Stella tops the team with a .391 average and 63 RBI, along with 11 home runs. The pitching staff boasts a 2.85 ERA, highlighted by Anthony Meo (9-3, 2.21 ERA) and Matt Rein (9-2, 1.78 ERA) in the starting rotation.
No. 4 Sacred Heart (34-21)
Northeast Conference AQ (2nd appearance, last 2006)
The Pioneers strung together 11 consecutive wins against league opponents with three victories in the NEC Tournament, including two over top-seeded Monmouth. Sacred Heart outscored foes 25-4 in three tournament games. The Pioneers, who set a school record for wins, led the conference with a .311 batting average, while freshman left-hander Nick Leiningen garnered NEC Pitcher of the Year after compiling a 7-3 mark with a 3.68 ERA in 11 starts.
Columbia Regional (Carolina Stadium)
No. 1 South Carolina (45-14)
Southeastern Conference At-Large (27th appearance, last 2010)
One of three SEC Eastern Division teams that shared the league’s regular season title, the defending national champions will be making their 12th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. The Gamecocks are the No. 4 national seed, and will be hosting an NCAA Regional for the 13th time in program history. South Carolina ranks second in the SEC with a 2.66 ERA, and individually, starter Michael Roth (11-3) paces the league with a 1.17 ERA.
No. 2 Stetson (41-18)
Atlantic Sun Conference At-Large (16th appearance, last 2007)
The Hatters earned an at-large bid after winning the A-Sun regular season title and posting a 40-win season for the ninth time in history. Stetson is looking to rebound after losing four of its last five games. Nick Rickles paces the Hatters with a .359 batting average, 12 home runs and 60 RBI. The Hatters rank second in the A-Sun with a 3.77 ERA.
No. 3 NC State (34-25)
Atlantic Coast Conference At-Large (24th appearance, last 2010)
The Wolfpack is making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, and eighth appearance in the last nine years. NC State won six of its last eight games entering regionals. Pratt Maynard provides an offensive spark with a .331 batting average, 21 doubles, 45 runs scored and 40 RBI. Cory Mazzoni paces the pitching staff with a 5-6 record and 3.38 ERA, and 125 strikeouts in 106.1 innings pitched.
No. 4 Georgia Southern (36-24)
Southern Conference AQ (13th appearance, last 2009)
The Eagles won their league title after entering the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed. Chris Beck won two games in the league tournament, and collected 22 strikeouts to set a SoCon Tournament record. Victor Roache leads the nation with 30 home runs, and tops the SoCon with a .789 slugging percentage and 83 RBI.