Here are my Regional picks
Columbia – The Gamecocks really couldn’t have asked for a better group. UNCW certainly can hit, but the Gamecocks are built for postseason play with their deep pitching staff and great defense.
Don’t be surprised to see USC struggle at the plate Friday night against Tyler Wilson, the Rhode Island ace who could be a very bad matchup for USC. But the Gamecocks won’t see anything close to elite pitching the rest of the weekend and I expect the bats to continue to improve all the way to Sunday. Jerry Meyers won’t be afraid to go to Josh Reagan early on Sunday and the Gamecocks have so many different types of pitchers that I believe they’ll find the formula to contain UNCW’s bats.
Biggest need: Alex Destino’s bat. DTW is hitting very well and if Destino can have a good weekend, that will make the middle of this order dangerous when you put Stokes in there. It would take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff and Holbrook.
Coaching move: I would bat TJ Hopkins 2nd and bench John Jones. I know I know..you’re shocked right?!
After not making the postseason last year, I don’t expect USC to be looking ahead. I expect the Gamecocks pitching staff to carry this team through the Regional and go 3-0.
Pick – USC
Clemson – The Tigers are red hot coming into regional play. The lineup has become long again as the bottom of the order is hitting and the pitching staff finally has an identity. Monte Lee would like to not have to start Pat Krall and use him to close out 3 straight wins. The middle of this lineup is scary good right now.
However this team is not built for postseason success. The Tigers have a very thin pitching staff and the defense is just awful. That’s how good the bats are but what happens if Oklahoma St can contain them on Saturday?
Plus, Clemson is vulnerable on Friday night with no real ace. Charlie Barnes has been better lately but Western Carolina won’t be intimidated with a familiar opponent.
Biggest need: Clate Schmidt needs to pitch well. If Schmidt can win on Saturday, that allows Lee to hold Krall until Sunday and use him when needed. If Clemson loses one of their first two games, the Tigers may be forced to start Krall Sunday afternoon and don’t have the arms to win the next two on their own. The bats will have to really come through…again.
Coaching move: Don’t change anything from the past few weeks. Coaches sometimes want to over manage in the postseason. Monte Lee needs to sit back and continue to lead this team with their relaxed, confident attitude…because it’s working.
I believe the bats for Clemson will find a way to carry this team to a 3-0 weekend and Schmidt will have a strong start on Saturday. But don’t be surprised if 2 of the 3 are comeback wins or we even could see Clemson lose on Sunday and have to come back Monday… with Krall.
Pick – Clemson
Other Regional winners:
Florida St. – Southern Miss could make this interesting.
Coastal Carolina (NC St Regional)
Virginia – Bryant could be scary
Arizona (La Laf Regional)