No. 1 Vanderbilt at No. 3 South Carolina
In the most highly-anticipated match-up of the week, the Commodores and Gamecocks will tangle for first place in Southeastern Conference East Division standings in a meeting between two of the top three teams in the nation. The Commodores boast the best batting average (.313) nd team ERA (2.19) in the SEC, while South Carolina’s pitching staff has also been stellar with a 2.46 ERA, including a league-leading 1.58 ERA in SEC action. The Gamecocks are the top fielding team in the conference (.976). Friday’s night pitching match-up will feature the top two hurlers in the league as South Carolina junior left-hander Michael Roth (7-1, 1.25 ERA) faces Vandy junior right-hander Sonny Gray (7-1, 1.54 ERA). VU’s Aaron Westlake leads the league with a .397 batting average, while South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker paces the SEC with 37 RBI, while batting .344 with seven home runs. Both teams are 10-2 in SEC East play. South Carolina leads the all-time series 42-18.
Schedule: April 15 at 7 p.m. ET; April 16 at 7 p.m. ET (CSS/ESPN3.com); April 17 at 1 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 21 Oklahoma State
The annual Bedlam Series features a pair of nationally-ranked squads jockeying for position in the Big 12 standings. OSU enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak, and has won three consecutive league series for the first time since 2008, helping the Cowboys to a third place position in the standings. The Sooners stand at 6-5 and fourth place in the Big 12. The Sooners are the top hitting team in the league with a .330 batting average, paced by third baseman Garrett Buechele (42 RBI, 7 HR). The Cowboys also field a solid offensive team, and rank second in the Big 12 with a .304 batting average, led by Dane Phillips and his conference-best .404 batting average. Two senior right-handers are expected to meet on the mound on Friday in Tulsa as OU’s Michael Rocha (7-1, 1.02 ERA) tangle with OSU’s Brad Probst (6-1, 1.25 ERA), who is a converted infielder. OSU leads the all-time series 148-143 against Oklahoma. OU defeated the Cowboys 8-3 earlier this month in Norman in a non-conference game. OU has won The Bedlam Series each of the last two years.
Schedule: April 15 at 7:35 p.m. CT (ONEOk Field, Tulsa); April 16 at 7:05 p.m. CT (Redhawks Field, Oklahoma City); April 17 at 4:35 p.m. CT (Redhawks Field, Oklahoma City)
No. 15 Oregon State at No. 23 Stanford
The Beavers are off to a hot start in Pac-10 play and currently lead the league with a 5-1 mark, while the Cardinal comes into the weekend with an even 3-3 mark. OSU swept Arizona State last weekend for the first time since 1966, and is looking to capitalize on the momentum of a six-game winning streak. OSU freshman 2B/DH Kavin Keyes boasts an 11-game hitting streak in which he is batting .416, and leads the Beavers offensively while catcher Andrew Susac (.364, 25 RBI) is sitting out with an injury. Stanford’s Kenny Diekroeger (.373, 15 RBI) leads a solid offensive club that is batting .309 as a team. Right-handers Sam Gaviglio (6-1, 1.34 ERA) and Mark Apprel (2-3, 3.09 ERA) are slated to pitch Friday night’s game. Stanford leads the all-time series 23-11.
Schedule: April 15 at 5:30 p.m. PT; April 16 at 1 p.m. PT; April 17 at 1 p.m. PT
Conference Carolinas Tournament
No. 3 Mount Olive is seeking its fifth conference tournament championship in the last six years, and won its opening round contest against Barton on Thursday night. The Trojans boast the league’s Pitcher of the Year Carter Capps, a sophomore RHP from Kinston, N.C., who is 8-0 with a 1.92 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 11 walks in 70.1 innings. Mount Olive will meet third-seeded Belmont Abbey in Friday’s game at 3 p.m. ET. Second-seeded Limestone is looking to make a splash behind junior catcher Joe Maloney, the league’s Player of the Year, who paces the conference with 51 RBI and 15 home runs. Limestone is 29-14 this season after posting a program-worst 14-34 record last year. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday, with the winner earning a berth in the Southeast Regional of the 2011 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship.
Schedule: Championship game, April 17 at 12 p.m. ET
No. 8 Tampa at No. 11 Barry
Barry will try to hold on to its first-place spot in the Sunshine State Conference standings as third-place and preseason favorite Tampa comes to town. It will be a match-up of the league’s best hitting and pitching teams as Tampa tops the SSC with a .354 batting average and Barry leads the league with a 3.14 ERA. The Spartans have three starters batting over .400, paced by Eric Grabe’s SSC-leading .434 average. Barry’s three starting pitchers – Cory Witkowski, Manny Rodriguez and Brett Hammaker -- have combined for a 19-5 record and all have under a 3.77 ERA.
Schedule: April 15 at 6 p.m. ET; April 16 at 12 p.m. ET (DH)
No. 23 Southern Indiana at Lewis
The top two squads in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division will meet in a battle of first place in the standings. USI (13-3) has won seven of its last eight games, while Lewis (10-4) is riding a four-game winning streak entering the weekend. Southern Indiana tops the GLVC in pitching with a 3.20 ERA, while Lewis leads the league offensively with a .323 batting average. Lewis leads the all-time series 46-44 series.
Schedule: April 16 at 12 p.m. CT (DH); April 17 at 12 p.m. CT (DH)
No. 2 Marietta at No. 5 Heidelberg
Two of the nation’s top five teams will battle for first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings in a doubleheader on Saturday. Marietta enters the series with a perfect 8-0 OAC mark, while the ‘Berg has dropped just one league contest and stands at 7-1. Heidelberg has won nine of its last 10 games, while Marietta is riding a 10-game winning streak. Heidelberg (.329) and Marietta (.326) are the top two hitting teams in the OAC and are flip-flopped in ERA as the Etta Express boasts a nation-leading 1.76 ERA and the ‘Berg follows at 2.25. Marietta’s John Snyder (.424) and Heidelberg’s John Lash (.404) are vying for the OAC batting title.
Schedule: April 16 at 1 p.m. ET (DH)
No. 7 Chapman at No. 8 Linfield
Linfield steps out of Northwest Conference play to host Chapman for an important four-game series between West Region foes. Chapman enters the weekend on a nine-game winning streak, while Linfield has won four in a row. Chapman enters the series with the nation’s fourth-ranked pitching staff in ERA (2.14), along with 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings, which is second in Division III. Sophomore Brian Rauh leads the Panthers on the mound with 87 strikeouts in 67.1 innings, which ranked second nationally. The Wildcats will counter with an offensive that is batting .313 and has hit 19 home runs led by senior catcher Cole Bixenman, who batted .538 with five RBI last week. Linfield also has a stellar pitching staff that enters the weekend with a 2.60 ERA, good for 12th in the nation, and is allowing just 7.33 hits per nine innings, which ranks seventh in Division III.
Schedule: April 15 at 3 p.m. PT; April 16 at 12 p.m. PT (DH); April 17 at 1 p.m. PT.
USA South Conference Championship
No. 1 Shenandoah will look to repeat as USA South Tournament champions after claiming its first-ever regular season title. The Hornets are led by senior Greg Van Sicker, the league’s Player and Pitcher of the Year, Who leads SU with .407 batting average, seven home runs and 33 RBI in 118 at-bats. In conference play, he is hitting .449 with five doubles and five home runs in 49 at bats. However, second-seeded and fourth-ranked Christopher Newport will look to be the spoiler of the Hornets’ parade. The two will potentially meet in Friday’s final game of the day. The championship game will be played April 17 at 12 p.m. ET.