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REGIONAL PREVIEW: TALLAHASSEE & MYRTLE BEACH
May 31, 2007

Tallahassee | Myrtle Beach

SCS.com After spending much of the season ranked near the top of the polls, it was no surprise to see Florida State earn the #6 national seed and a home regional. The Seminoles will play host to another squad that had regional host hopes themselves in Mississippi State, as well as in-state foes Stetson and Bethune-Cookman. That bracket's winner will take on the winner from Myrtle Beach, where top-seeded Coastal Carolina is this weekend's host. The Chanticleers are set to welcome in-state rival Clemson to campus, in addition to hosting both St. John's and Virginia Commonwealth.

TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL
  vs Myrtle Beach Regional

The Field

(1) Florida State (47-11) [#6]
FSU was picked to finish in the middle of the ACC, but instead won the overall regular season crown with a 24-6 record. The Seminoles won their first 23 games, and overall, won all but one weekend series during the season. FSU is making its 30th straight appearance in the NCAA tourney.
(2) Mississippi State (33-20)
The Bulldogs were looking good as a regional host before losing eight of their last ten games, all of which were by one or two runs. Still, the íDogs make their fifth regional appearance in a row and 11th in 12 seasons. After being picked to finish last in the SEC, Ron Polkís squad finished 4th in the league at 15-13, and went into the final weekend with a chance to win the Western Division.
(3) Stetson (41-19)
The Hatters were the Atlantic Sunís regular season champion with a 21-6 record. They hosted the A-Sun tourney and went 2-2, getting eliminated with an 18-5 loss to Belmont in the semis. Stetson is making their seventh regional appearance in the last eight seasons.
(4) Bethune-Cookman (33-25)
The Wildcats are making their eighth regional appearance in nine seasons, and this is their fifth appearance in Tallahassee. They went 16-1 in the MEAC this season, and defeated North Carolina A&T in the tournament championship game.

The Venue

FSUís Dick Howser Stadium has been open since 1983. Itís named after the late Dick Howser, former FSU player and coach, and Kansas City Royals manager. The stadium is known for its 30-foot right field fence, and its entertaining fans, known as Ďthe Animals.í Howser has a capacity of 6700, and hit that mark twice against Miami last season on consecutive days. In 2005, the name officially changed to Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium, in honor of longtime legendary coach Mike Martin. The dimensions are 340 in left, 365 in left center, 400 in center, 360 in right center, and 320 in right.

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Bryan Henry, Florida State - Henry is the nationís leader in wins with 14, and has posted a 2.54 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 109.2 innings. The senior has a 32-8 career record in his three seasons at FSU. Heís a three-time All-ACC first-teamer, and was named SEBaseballís ACC Pitcher of the Year and a Louisville Slugger First team All-American this season.
Runner-up: Corey Kluber, Stetson
Relief Pitcher - Robbie Elsemiller, Stetson - Elsemiller has posted a 3-1 record with a 2.32 ERA in 28 appearances. The junior closer has notched 12 saves for the Hatters.
Runner-up: Aaron Weatherford, Mississippi State
Infielder - Tony Thomas, Jr., Florida State - Few players have put up numbers like Thomas, who was recently named the ACC Player of the Year and Louisville Sluggerís National Co-Player of the Year. The junior second baseman enters the regionals among the nationís leaders in average (.442), hits (107), and doubles (87). Heís also hit 11 homers and six triples, and has stolen 30 bases.
Runner-up: Mark Hallberg, Florida State, and Jeffrey Rea, Mississippi State
Outfielder - Jack Rye, Florida State - Rye has been the Seminolesí starting right fielder since his freshman season. His bat gets the most notoriety at the plate (224 career hits, seasons of .328/2/31, .339/12/46, and .383/8/57), but heís reliable at his position, where the junior hasnít committed a single error in 110 chances this season.
Runner-up: Angel Mercado, Bethune-Cookman
Homerun Hitter - Ed Easley, Mississippi State - Easley has the best power numbers among the regional participants with 12 homers this season. The junior catcher has also hit .373 and driven in 60 runs. He was named first-team All-SEC, and a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger, and is also a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award.
Runner-up: Jack Rye, Florida State
Pro Prospect - Buster Posey, Florida State - Posey excelled as the Seminolesí starting shortstop last season as a freshman, so his move to catcher was deemed a little curious at first. But all heís done is become a first-team All-American. He was one of the top HS prospects in 2005, but came to college, and that move will pay off in him being a high first-round pick next season. Heís got the bat (.375, 61 RBIs), the versatility in the field, and the arm (he was supposed to be the closer, but that plan changed).
Runner-up: Ed Easley, Mississippi State
Coach - Mike Martin, Florida State - Martin has been one of the nationís top coaches in the last three decades. Heís closing in on a 23rd 50-win season, and 1,500 wins (heís at 1,482). Heís led FSU to 12 CWS trips, many conference titles in both the Metro and ACC, and now 28 straight regional appearances.
Runner-up: Ron Polk, Mississippi State

The Forecast

FSU is looking to advance to their first super regional since 2003, and hopefully break a six-year string of missing the College World Series. Theyíve got the favorable bracket to do it. They wonít be overlooking Bethune-Cookman, but they should have no problem getting past the Wildcats. How easy of a time they have getting to and winning the championship game will depend on which Mississippi State and Stetson teams show up. The Bulldogs were one of the nationís best hitting teams for the first half of the season, but the bats cooled off late, which is a prime reason why they went 8-12 after a 25-8 start. Conversely, their pitching, which had been subpar to say the least, improved greatly over the second half of the season. Howser offers up the chance for their hitters to get back on track, and if they can, the Bulldogs are capable of giving FSU a run for their money. A lot will depend on how healthy star infielder Brandon Turner and a couple of other key cogs are.
Stetson went 5-7 down the stretch, so theyíll be looking to get back on track as well. Pitching depth will be a key for whoever wins the regional. MSU has two quality arms in Justin Pigott and Chad Crosswhite, and the Hatters have two in Kluber and Chris Ingoglia. FSU has Henry, but Michael Hyde and Ryan Strauss have had their ups and downs lately. Whoever can get the most out of their starting pitching, and has to rely the least on their bullpens will be in a good position. With that said, it might seem to be easy for the home team to advance, but it wonít be as easy as it might look on paper.

The Predictions

Eddie Jimmy Jonathan
Florida State Florida State Florida State

MYRTLE BEACH REGIONAL
  vs Tallahassee Regional

The Field

(1) Coastal Carolina (48-11)
The Chanticleers won the Big Southís regular season title with a 17-4 record, and swept through the tournament, defeating Liberty 6-5 in the final. This is the second time in three years that CCU has been a #1 seed. In 2005, they were the top seed in Tempe.
(2) Clemson (38-21)
The Tigers were picked as a national title contender in the preseason, but finished six games behind Florida State in the ACC Atlantic Division. However, they were the only team to knock off the Seminoles in a weekend series, and also beat them in the ACC tournament.
(3) St. Johnís (40-17)
The Red Storm tied Rutgers for the Big East regular season title with a 20-7 record, and as the #1 seed in the Big East tourney, they went 1-2. Still, they earned their third bid to the regionals in four seasons.
(4) Virginia Commonwealth (37-21)
VCU finished in a four-way tie for first in the CAA with an 18-11 record. The Rams swept through the tournament as the #3 seed, defeating Delaware 10-4 in the championship game. VCUís last appearance was in 2005, when they went 0-2 in the Coral Gables Regional.

The Venue

Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach is where this weekendís regional will take place. The Atlanta Bravesí Class A affiliate, the Pelicans, call the stadium home. The facility, which opened in 1999, has over 4000 seats taken from the Bravesí old Fulton County Stadium, and a total capacity of 6000.

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Bobby Gagg, Coastal Carolina - Gagg was named the Big Southís Pitcher of the Year, and a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger, and for good reason. The sophomore has put together an 11-2 record and a 2.75 ERA while striking out 82 batters in 104.2 innings.
Runner-up: Scott Barnes, St. Johnís
Relief Pitcher - Luke Pisker, Virginia Commonwealth - Pisker has made 30 appearances this season, and has compiled a 9-1 record with a lowly 1.87 ERA and eleven saves. He has struck out 54 batters in 62.2 innings.
Runner-up: David Anderson, Coastal Carolina
Infielder - Chris Raber, Coastal Carolina - The senior first baseman has had a huge year at the plate, posting a .329 average with 17 homers and 54 RBI. At his position, heís made only four errors in 545 chances, for a .993 fielding percentage.
Runner-up: Andy DĎAlessio, Clemson
Outfielder - David Sappelt & Tommy Baldridge, Coastal Carolina - Sappelt, the starting LF, was named the Big Southís player of the year, and comes into the regionals with totals of .366/10/49 from the leadoff spot. Baldridge, the cleanup hitter and starting RF, has posted even better numbers, .393/13/56. Both have only three errors in the field.
Runner-up: Brad Chalk, Clemson
Homerun Hitter - Andy DĎAlessio, Clemson - DíAlessio was one of the nationís leading power hitters in 2006 with 23 homers and 85 RBI. His numbers have been down this season, with only 14 homers and 41 RBI entering the regionals, but heís still a threat every time he comes to the plate.
Runner-up: Chris Raber, Coastal Carolina
Pro Prospect - Daniel Moskos, Clemson - Moskos was a reliever for two and a half years, but was moved into the rotation during the season. His numbers (3-5, 3.12 ERA) arenít mind-blowing, but his stuff (mid 90s fastball and a solid slider) has the junior lefty rated as one of the top prospects for next monthís draft, where heĎll likely be taken as a reliever.
Runner-up: David Kopp, Clemson
Coach - Jack Leggett, Clemson - Leggett hit the 1,000 win mark as a head coach earlier this season. Of those victories, 645 of 1,022 have come in his 14 seasons at Clemson, where he has led the Tigers to four ACC titles, 14 straight regional appearances, six super regionals, and five CWS appearances.
Runner-up: Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina

The Forecast

This is Coastalís chance to put themselves in the class with UNC, South Carolina, and Clemson, and ClemsonĎs chance to unleash their potential. The Chanticleers have proved they can play with the top teams this season, with two wins over Virginia and close games with UNC, N.C. State, and Clemson. The Tigers, though, have the talent to steal Coastalís thunder and validate their preseason accolades as a national title contender, but itís a matter of that talent showing up. St. Johnís wonít be a pushover, with Scott Barnes capable of shutting down the potentially potent Tiger lineup.
VCU wonít go down easily for Coastal either, but the Chanticleers should advance through the winnerís bracket with one of their three talented starters and a chorus of talented hitters. That quality depth in the rotation, and the lineup with Baldridge, Raber, Sappelt, and supporting cast members Matt Rademacher and Dom Duggan, are why Coastal is the favorite here. Baldridge, Raber, Duggan, and starting pitcher Andy DeLagarza were key members of the 2005 team, and this team has what it takes to surpass that squadís accomplishments. If the right Clemson team shows up, then that could change, but at this point, their lack of consistency overrides their talent. Clemsonís got the names, but Coastalís done nothing but win this season, and thereís no reason to think they wonít stop this weekend. There arenít any glaring holes in this team, and thatís key this time of year, when you have no margin for error.

The Predictions

Eddie Jimmy Jonathan
Coastal Carolina Coastal Carolina Coastal Carolina
U.S.A.
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