The NCAA Tournament is just two days away and Dick Howser Stadium will be one of 16 venues to host a regional. The host team Florida State earned the Regional bid by going a perfect 4-0 at the ACC Tournament to win its sixth ACC crown and first since 2010.
The Seminoles will hope for better fate in this year’s double-elimination regional. Despite being a host last year, FSU was eliminated in two games with losses to Georgia Southern and Alabama.
With the action set to begin early Friday afternoon, here’s a look at each of the four teams hoping to win the Tallahassee Regional:
No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (41-19), ACC Champions
Florida State won at least 40 games for the 38th straight season and put a 5-game losing streak to close the regular season behind it by going 4-0 in the ACC Tournament in Durham. Starting pitching fueled the Seminoles’ run to a conference championship as Boomer Biegalski, Mike Compton and Drew Carlton combined to allow just two runs in 23 2/3 innings. During the regular season, closer Billy Strode led the ACC with 13 saves. The FSU offense is powered by junior outfielder D.J. Stewart, who leads the Seminoles in virtually every offense category. Stewart is hitting .318 with 13 home runs, 52 RBIs and an ungodly .506 on-base percentage.
No. 2 College of Charleston Cougars (43-13), NCAA At-large
College of Charleston went just 2-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, but was 21-3 in conference during the regular season. Charleston is a force to be reckoned with offensively as the Cougars currently have seven players hitting better than .300. Carl Wise and Blake Butler finished first and second in the CAA with 68 and 62 RBIs respectively while combining for 23 home runs. The Cougars also have the conference’s top 3 leaders in earned run average, headlined by junior Taylor Clarke. Clarke led the conference in wins, ERA, opposing batting average, innings and strikeouts. He is 13-1 on the season with a 1.34 ERA.
No. 3 Auburn Tigers (35-24), NCAA At-large
After a 5-year drought, Auburn is in the NCAA Tournament after posting 35 victories and a 13-17 record in SEC play. The Tigers didn’t have many players put up gaudy offensive numbers, but Anfernee Grier was among the SEC’s hit leaders and leads the Tigers with a .335 batting average and 41 runs scored. On the mound, sophomore starter Cole Lipscomb is 8-2 and ranks third in the SEC with a 2.38 ERA. Closer Justin Camp posted a 2.42 ERA and had 8 saves during the regular season.
No. 4 Mercer Bears (35-21), Southern Conference Champions
Mercer clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 5-0 win over The Citadel in the final of the Southern Conference Tournament. Kyle Lewis powers the Bears’ offense, leading the Southern Conference with a .373 batting average and 17 home runs. While Lewis is a tough out at the plate, Eric Nyquist hasn’t had much trouble getting guys out on the mound. At 9-2, Nyquist ranks second in the conference in victories. 5’7″ left-handed senior reliever Morgan Pittman owns a Southern Conference-best 2.56 ERA in 27 appearances.
Tallahassee Regional Schedule (All Times Eastern and PM)
Friday, May 29th
Game 1: Auburn vs. College of Charleston, 12:00
Game 2: Mercer vs. Florida State, 6:00
Saturday, May 30th
Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 12:00
Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 6:00
Sunday, May 31st
Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 12:00
Game 6: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 6:00
Monday, June 1st
Game 7: Game 6 Rematch (if necessary), 6:00
Featured image courtesy of Phil Sears/Associated Press