College baseball: Previews, team info for all eight Super Regionals
Sixteen teams are one good weekend away from reaching their dreams of advancing to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series.
Just two wins separate the regional champions from getting the chance to play for the 2017 championship, but those victories will have to come against equally hungry teams with the same ambitions.
Here's a look at each of the eight Super Regionals, which are set to run from Friday to Monday.
Vanderbilt at No. 1 Oregon State
|Pat Casey (23rd season)||Head coach||Tim Corbin (15th season)|
|Pac-12 (27-3)||Conference||SEC (15-13-1)|
|3-0 (Yale in finals)||Regional record||3-1 (Clemson in finals)|
|2013||Last Super Regional berth||2015|
|2013 (fifth appearance)||Last CWS appearance||2015 (third appearance)|
|2007 (second)||Last championship||2014 (first)|
|6.0 (103rd)||Runs per game||6.7 (44th)|
|1.78 (first)||Earned-run average||3.54 (22nd)|
Game 1: Friday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
*Game 3: Sunday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU)
Oregon State summary: The Beavers have been the clear No. 1 team for months, as their incredible 52-4 record would suggest. Pitching has been the name of the game, with the first sub-2.00 team ERA since 2013, but don't sleep on the offense. The lineup lacks any sort of power threat, but Nick Madrigal (.380 batting average) leads a balanced order with six starters batting .300 or better and seven players having between 29 and 39 RBIs. Luke Heimlich (11-1, 0.76 ERA) might have been the best pitcher in the country this year, while Jake Thompson (13-0, 1.30) is not far behind. The Beavers rolled through the Corvallis Regional with a cumulative score of 27-3 in three games.
Vanderbilt summary: The 2017 season was full of inconsistency for the Commodores, but when they are on they can be one of the more balanced teams in terms of both ability to score runs and limiting opposing offenses. Outfielder Jeren Kendall and right-handed pitcher Kyle Wright are juniors who are expected to be very high picks in the upcoming MLB draft. Kendall, a five-tool player, hit .312 with 15 home runs and 19 steals to lead the offense while Will Toffey (.350) and Julian Infante (.322) each added 11 homers. Wright (5-5, 2.98 ERA) and Patrick Raby (10-3, 2.36) make a formidable 1-2 punch in the rotation.
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
|Long Beach State||Cal State Fullerton|
|Troy Buckley (seventh season)||Head coach||Rick Vanderhook (sixth season)|
|Big West (20-4)||Conference||Big West (15-9)|
|4-1 (Texas in finals)||Regional record||3-0 (Stanford in finals)|
|2004||Last Super Regional berth||2015|
|1998 (fourth)||Last CWS appearance||2015 (17th)|
|Never||Last championship||2004 (fourth)|
|5.1 (202nd)||Runs per game||5.5 (164th)|
|3.02 (sixth)||Earned-run average||3.70 (35th)|
Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
*Game 3: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN/ESPN2)
Long Beach State summary: The Dirtbags earned some awfully impressive non-conference wins during the regular season, including two of three at North Carolina and a 7-0 win against TCU. But none of those are as relevant as their head-to-head mark against conference foe Cal State Fullerton. Long Beach State dominated the season series, sweeping the Titans at home and winning two of three on the road. Interestingly, the average margin of victory in those five wins was just 1.6 runs. Their lineup won't overpower anyone, but the Dirtbags have a good rotation led by Dave Smith (9-1, 1.32 ERA) and a lockdown bullpen. The Titans only managed 2.7 runs per game against them, including a pair of shutouts.
Cal State Fullerton summary: Only one team has more Super Regional appearances since the format came into existence in 1999, so don't expect the Titans to get overwhelmed by the pressure. They looked great at the Stanford Regional, shutting down the nationally seeded Cardinal twice by scores of 4-1 and 4-2. Juniors Connor Seabold and John Gavin have nearly identical ERAs at 2.91 and 2.93, respectively, while sophomore Colton Eastman was awesome in the regional clincher against Stanford, tossing 6.2 innings without giving up an earned run. Scott Hurst (.333 average, 12 homers) is a beast in the lineup, but the amount of help he gets around him comes and goes.
Sam Houston State at Florida State
|Florida State||Sam Houston State|
|Mike Martin (38th season)||Head coach||Matt Deggs (third season)|
|ACC (14-14)||Conference||Southland (19-11)|
|4-1 (Auburn in finals)||Regional record||4-1 (Texas Tech in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||Never|
|2012 (21st)||Last CWS appearance||Never|
|7.2 (24th)||Runs per game||6.7 (42nd)|
|3.80 (47th)||Earned-run average||3.58 (23rd)|
Game 1: Saturday, noon ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Sunday, noon ET (ESPN/ESPN2)
*Game 3: Monday, TBA (ESPN/ESPN2)
Florida State summary: It was a roller coaster of a season for Florida State, riding from a No. 1 ranking in mid-March to completely dropping off the radar thanks to a subpar ACC regular season performance, then to hosting a regional after ending the season with six straight wins and an ACC tournament championship. That led to nobody knowing which Seminole team was the real one, and it looked to be the one that went 3-5-1 in its intra-conference series after losing the regional opener to Tennessee Tech. But Florida State defied the odds after that, winning four straight games thanks to some outstanding pitching. Will Zirzow was the hero in the winner-take-all game against Auburn, throwing a shutout in his first appearance in 26 days. The Noles have an ace in Tyler Holton (10-2, 2.22 ERA), but there are some big questions behind him, and a lineup with a lot of power but a poor batting average.
Sam Houston State summary: If it weren't for Davidson on the other half of the bracket, the Bearkats would be the darling of this year's tournament. In a brutal region that included both last year's national runner-up in Arizona and No. 5 national seed Texas Tech, a school that used to play in the NAIA and Division II knocked out both of them to make its first-ever Super Regional after previously failing in 10 chances. And it was certainly no fluke, because this team has a lot of talent in both its bats and arms. Bryce Johnson (.350 batting average, 33 steals) is a valuable commodity on offense, while Heath Donica, despite struggling against Texas Tech, had a wonderful season, going 9-2 with a 1.91 ERA. With just 31 homers as a team, the Bearkats won't be outslugging anybody, but their 3-0 record in one-run games during the Lubbock Regional speaks to the fearlessness and tenacity of the squad.
Mississippi State at No. 4 LSU
|Paul Mainieri (11th season)||Head coach||Andy Cannizaro (first season)|
|SEC (21-9)||Conference||SEC (17-13)|
|3-0 (Rice in finals)||Regional record||4-1 (Southern Miss in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||2016|
|2015 (17th)||Last CWS appearance||2013 (ninth)|
|2009 (sixth)||Last championship||Never|
|7.0 (33rd)||Runs per game||5.6 (150th)|
|3.54 (21st)||Earned-run average||4.82 (145th)|
Game 1: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Sunday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU)
*Game 3: Monday, TBA (ESPN/ESPN2)
LSU summary: The Tigers' strong pitching wasn't there in its first two regional games, giving up 13 combined runs. Luckily the bats were more than willing to pick up the slack, with run totals of 15 against Texas Southern and 11 against Southeastern Louisiana. That was enough to get LSU in the regional final, where Eric Walker's eight-inning scoreless gem made things a lot easier. When Walker, Jared Poche' and Alex Lange are on, the Tigers are extremely tough to beat, but that isn't always the case. Poche' has not been the same since his 32-inning scoreless streak to start the year — not that anyone could be expected to keep that pace up — and got roughed up for seven runs in 4.1 innings against Texas Southern, though only one was earned. Greg Deichmann (19 homers, 69 RBIs) is one of the nation's top power threats, while Cole Freeman, Antoine Duplantis and Kramer Robertson provide a lot of hits and speed on the basepaths.
Mississippi State summary: Just where would the Bulldogs be without Brent Rooker? The junior put together a season for the ages, ranking first in the country in doubles and RBIs (30 and 82, respectively), fifth in homers (23) and fifth in batting average (.395). Not that MSU doesn't have other capable hitters, but Rooker is a complete game-changer. He was on full display in the final game against Southern Miss, going 2-for-4 with a home run, walk and three RBIs. He also homered in the first game against the Golden Eagles earlier in the day. The starting rotation is where the Bulldogs have to be worried, though Jacob Billingsley did come through with a complete-game gem in that regional final.
Davidson at Texas A&M
|Rob Childress (11th season)||Head coach||Dick Cooke (27th season)|
|SEC (16-14)||Conference||Atlantic 10 (13-11)|
|3-0 (Houston in finals)||Regional record||3-0 (North Carolina in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||Never|
|2011 (fifth)||Last CWS appearance||Never|
|6.1 (90th)||Runs per game||6.1 (83rd)|
|3.41 (14th)||Earned-run average||4.41 (102nd)|
Game 1: Friday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
*Game 3: Sunday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU)
Texas A&M summary: The Aggies, seeded third in the Houston Region, won a trio of close games to earn the Super Regional spot. Starting pitchers Corbin Martin and Stephen Kolek came up big in their starts and have been pitching very well lately, while the offense picked up the slack for Brigham Hill in the opener against Baylor. The lineup features no stars but plenty of very good hitters, with Braden Shewmake (.333 average, 11 homers) at the top of that list. Prior to the regional sweep, the Aggies had lost six of seven games, including a swift exit from the SEC tournament, so it's anybody's guess which team will show up on Friday.
Davidson summary: How Davidson responds to the time off, national attention and pressure of the Super Regionals will be fascinating to observe. This is a team that had never appeared in the NCAA tournament before, let alone a Super Regional or College World Series, and knocked off No. 2 North Carolina twice as well as a very solid Florida Gulf Coast team. With an RPI ranking of 126 and a record barely over .500 in a mid-major conference, few if any picked the Wildcats to win their regional, yet they didn't even drop a game. The starting pitching came up huge in Chapel Hill with Durin O'Linger, Evan Roberts and Josh Hudson combining for 21 innings and five runs (2.14 ERA). The offense roughed up North Carolina strikeout king J.B. Bukauskas in the opener but didn't do much in the next two wins. The Wildcats might need Will Robertson and Brian Fortier, who have combined for 33 home runs, to come through with some big hits in order to win two games in College Station and keep the Cinderella run alive.
Kentucky at No. 7 Louisville
|Dan McDonnell (ninth season)||Head coach||Nick Mingione (first season)|
|ACC (23-6)||Conference||SEC (19-11)|
|3-0 (Xavier in finals)||Regional record||4-1 (NC State in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||Never|
|2014 (third)||Last CWS appearance||Never|
|7.4 (20th)||Runs per game||7.5 (15th)|
|2.88 (third)||Earned-run average||3.81 (50th)|
Game 1: Friday, noon ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
*Game 3: Sunday, noon ET (ESPN/ESPN2)
Louisville summary: There are few teams with more talent on the roster than Louisville. Of course, it starts with Brendan McKay, who has deservedly received the bulk of the fanfare this season. The junior is not only batting .356 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs as a first baseman, but he is also carrying a 2.31 ERA and 9-3 record in 15 starts, with 131 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. But he does have some teammates who are right there with him on both sides of the ball in third baseman Drew Ellis (.362 average, 17 home runs, 55 RBIs) and pitchers Nick Bennett (5-0, 2.70 ERA) and Kade McClure (7-3, 3.63 ERA). And don't forget the absolutely lethal Louisville bullpen led by closer Lincoln Henzman (1.30 ERA, 16 saves) and Sam Bordner (0.50 ERA in 36.1 innings).
Kentucky summary: Things have been a challenge historically for the northernmost SEC team. But the wait was worth it for the Wildcats, and now we get an edition of the Bluegrass Rivalry in the Wildcats' first-ever Super Regional appearance. Kentucky's potent offense left plenty of margin for error by the pitching staff in its three elimination games, pounding out 14, eight and 10 runs. The rivals met on two separate occasions in April, each defending their home fields in midweek contests. Tristan Pompey, Evan White and Zach Reks are as good of a 1-2-3 at the top of the lineup as you'll find, with each batting over .360, while Riley Mahan has chipped in a team-high 15 home runs. The pitching staff doesn't have quite the same prowess, though guys like Zach Thompson and Sean Hjelle are certainly capable of putting up quality innings.
Missouri State at No. 6 TCU
|Jim Schlossnagle (14th season)||Head coach||Keith Guttin (33rd season)|
|Big 12 (16-8)||Conference||Missouri Valley (19-1)|
|3-0 (Dallas Baptist in finals)||Regional record||3-1 (Arkansas in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||2015|
|2016 (fourth)||Last CWS appearance||2003|
|6.9 (34th)||Runs per game||7.0 (29th)|
|4.07 (66th)||Earned-run average||3.72 (38th)|
Game 1: 6 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Game 2: 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU)
*Game 3: TBA (ESPN/ESPN2)
TCU summary: Even with star hitter Luken Baker's season-ending arm injury, the Horned Frogs can still really bash the ball, and that was showcased with 15 runs in the regional clincher against Dallas Baptist. Austen Wade might not be as recognized, but he has been phenomenal this year with a .355 batting average and 15 steals. Throw in one of the best power threats in Evan Skoug (18 homers) and two of the top speedsters in Nolan Brown and Ryan Merrill (combined 42 steals in 45 attempts) and you have a lineup that can get on a pitcher in a hurry. Jared Janczak (9-0, 1.89 ERA) is going to give you a great shot when he takes the mound, but the rotation gets awfully dicey behind him. Winning the game that he gets the ball for could be imperative for the Horned Frogs.
Missouri State summary: Despite a surprising defeat in the MVC tournament championship, the Bears certainly earned their at-large bid thanks to an 18-0 start to conference play — their two tournament losses and one regular-season loss were all to Illinois State. However, as they had a grand total of one non-conference game against teams that went on to qualify for the tournament — a 7-3 loss at Oklahoma State in March — no one was quite sure what to expect. What they got was four nail-biting games all decided by one run, including one over that Oklahoma State team and three against host Arkansas. It's easy to see why the Bears would be successful in tight games with a fantastic bullpen led by Jake Fromson and closer Bryan Young, while Doug Still (8-2, 2.66 ERA) gives them a reliable ace starter. Throw in the nation's top home run-hitting duo in Jake Burger and Jeremy Eierman, who have each blasted 22 dingers, and you've got a very difficult opponent.
Wake Forest at No. 3 Florida
|Kevin O'Sullivan (10th season)||Head coach||Tom Walter (sixth season)|
|SEC (21-9)||Conference||ACC (19-11)|
|3-1 (Bethune-Cookman in finals)||Regional record||3-0 (West Virginia in finals)|
|2016||Last Super Regional berth||1999|
|2016 (10th)||Last CWS appearance||1955 (second)|
|Never||Last championship||1955 (first)|
|5.6 (153rd)||Runs per game||7.9 (ninth)|
|3.60 (27th)||Earned-run average||4.16 (77th)|
Game 1: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Game 2: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN/ESPN2)
*Game 3: TBA (ESPN/ESPN2)
Florida summary: All year long, the Gators have been a well-oiled machine. When the offense struggles, the pitching bears down, and when the pitching gives up several runs, the offense is there to pick up the slack. The rotation of Alex Faedo, Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer is about as good as any staff around, and the bullpen has some great arms, led by the nation's save leader, Michael Byrne. The offense can struggle from a lack of impact bats, but Florida often doesn't need a ton of scoring. The Gators have only lost five games in which they scored four or more runs, so one big inning could be all it takes to decide any given contest.
Wake Forest summary: The Demon Deacons made it look easy against a very good West Virginia team to advance to their first Super Regional in almost 20 years. It's all about the bats for Tom Walter's team, as he enjoys a lineup that has six starters batting over .320 and five hitters with a dozen or more homers. Put that together and Wake Forest is the No. 1 home run-hitting team in the country, averaging 1.67 round-trippers per game — a clean 100 for the season. This matchup against Florida looks to be the classic case of great pitching vs. great hitting. Common belief is that the pitching side usually wins those matchups, but it takes nine innings of keeping a team off the scoreboard, whereas one or two swings can put several runs up. This pairing could be the best of the Super Regional round.
*denotes Game 3 if necessary