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2008 REGIONAL PREVIEW: TALLAHASSEE & STILLWATER
May 29, 2008

SCS.com Florida State and Oklahoma State are programs with rich traditions on the baseball diamonds. However, both teams haven't been to the College World Series in quite a while, as the Seminoles haven't made the trip to Omaha since 2000, while the Cowboys haven't been there since 1999. The Seminoles have an excellent chance of getting back this year, as they're the #4 national seed. However, Oklahoma State is locked and loaded, and has the opportunity of starting postseason play in front of the home fans in Stillwater. Will the two hosts advance to face one another in the supers, or will their foes put a wrench in those plans? Previews of the Tallahassee and Stillwater regionals are below.

TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL
  vs Stillwater Regional

The Field

(1) Florida State [#4 National Seed]
The Seminoles (48-10) won their second straight ACC Atlantic Division title and are a national seed for the second year in a row. Florida State is making their 31st consecutive regional appearance and their 29th in 29 seasons under head coach Mike Martin.
(2) Florida
First-year head coach Kevin O'Sullivan has led the Gators to their first posteason berth since 2005, when they were the runner-up to Texas for the national championship. The Gators (34-22) finished 2nd in the SEC East with a 17-13 record,
(3) Tulane
Tulane (37-20) makes a return to the postseason after missing out in 2007, which broke a streak of nine straight postseason appearances. The Green Wave (37-20-1) finished 3rd in Conference USA with a 13-9 record.
(4) Bucknell
The Bison (29-22) finished fourth in the Patriot League with a 10-10 record, but knocked off #1 seed Army and #2 seed Navy to make the field of 64 for the fourth time. This is their third regional trip to the Sunshine State, as they went to Florida in 1996 and to Miami in 2001 (their other appearance was in 2003 at Texas).

The Venue

Florida State has been playing at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium since 1983. The stadium got its name in 1988, in honor of former Seminole player and coach Dick Howser, and longtime coach Mike Martin had the field named in his honor in 2005. In April, FSU broke attendance records three times in one week, when they hosted in-state rivals Florida and Miami. [As a side note, if you're planning on making the trip to Tallahassee, and you're unfamiliar with the area, shoot me an e-mail at emg03 [at] gmail.com, and I'll be happy to give you my tips on where to go and what to do in Tally.]

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Shooter Hunt, Tulane - Hunt, the 2008 Conference USA Pitcher of the Year, has put together an excellent season, entering the regionals with a 9-3 record, a 2.45 ERA, and 119 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Hnnt has allowed only 49 hits this season.
Runner-up: Matt Fairel, FSU
Relief Pitcher - Mason Griffin, Tulane - Griffin has compiled a 2-1 record with a 3.93 ERA and seven saves in 25 appearances for the Green Wave. He has 33 strikeouts and only nine walks in 36 innings pitched.
Runner-up: Josh Edmonson, Florida
Infielder - Buster Posey, FSU - Posey has made a good case to nab all of the National Player of the Year awards available, not just for being the nation's leading hitter with an amazing .467 average (100 hits, 20 doubles, four triples, 19 homers, 73 RBI), but also because he's excelled defensively (thrown out more than 40% of base stealers - 22 of 53), and when he's stepped on the mound, he's done his job (six saves in eight appearances). In a win over Savannah State earlier this month, he hit a grand slam and played all nine positions.
Runner-up: Seth Henry, Tulane
Outfielder - Matt den Dekker, Florida - Den Dekker, Florida's starting center fielder, has made only one error in more than 150 chances in the field, and is hitting .332 with eight homers and 47 RBI. He's also perfect on the basepaths, with 20 stolen bases in as many attempts.
Runner-up: Jack Rye, FSU
Homerun Hitter - Dennis Guinn, FSU - Guinn is actually second to Posey in homers, with 16 on the season, but when he's locked in, he's as dangerous as they come.
Runner-up: Buster Posey, FSU
Coach - Mike Martin, FSU - All Martin has done in his 29 seasons at FSU is win, win, win. Martin has 1,536 wins heading into the postseason, and hasn't won less than 44 games in any of his seasons at the helm. With two wins, FSU will have their 23rd 50-win season in his tenure.
Runner-up: Rick Jones, Tulane

The Forecast

The stakes are certainly high in this one, with FSU trying to hold serve at home and advance to their first super regional since 2005, and their archrivals trying to take them down on their home field. Without a doubt, FSU is the favorite, but they likely remember last year all too well, when they were the #6 national seed and Mississippi State came into Tallahassee and shocked the Seminoles to take a surprise regional title. To make sure that doesn't happen this time around, FSU needs three things: 1) consistent, timely hitting at the plate, 2) good starts from their horses, and 3) solid relief pitching. I'm sure Mike Martin would prefer to keep Posey behind the plate, but he won't hesitate to use him if the game's on the line. What about the other teams? Tulane's starting pitching has an edge over Florida's, though the Gators are better overall at the plate, so it could come down to who wins that battle. I won't write off Bucknell either - the last time the Patriot League champ came to Tallahassee was in 2005, when Nick Hill and Army gave FSU all they had and then some in a tight defeat. The Bison have some good hitters, led by Jason Boursma, who's not only their top hitter (.372, 12 homers, 35 RBI), but also their top pitcher as well (9-3, 2.72 ERA, 75 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 79.1 innings, six complete games).

The Predictions

Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Florida
State
Florida
State
Florida
State
Florida
State

STILLWATER REGIONAL
  vs Tallahassee Regional

The Field

(1) Oklahoma State
The Cowboys (42-16) finished second in the Big 12 with an 18-9 record. This is Oklahoma State's third straight 40-win season, and their third straight regional appearance and fourth in Frank Anderson's five seasons.
(2) Wichita State
The Shockers enter the postseason at 44-15 overall after sweeping both the Missouri Valley regular-season (19-5 record) and conference tournament titles, beating out Missouri State for both.
(3) TCU
TCU (43-17) have swept the Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles in each of its three seasons as a member. This time, they had to rally out of the loser's bracket after losing to New Mexico, but they did it, beating Utah and then beating the Lobos twice to take home the crown. This is TCU's fifth straight appearance in head coach Jim Schlossnagle's five seasons.
(4) Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers (33-25) are making their third regional appearance in school history (1980, 2004). Western Kentucky finished 5th in the Sun Belt in the regular season with a 16-14 record, but went 4-1 in the SBC tournament, capping off their title with a 17-5 rout over New Orleans in the championship game.

The Venue

Oklahoma State began play in Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in April of 1981. The stadium is named for the late OSU alum, who won 182 games in a 13-year MLB career with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. The stadium has a capacity of 4,000.

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Aaron Shafer, Rob Musgrave, and Anthony Capra, Wichita State - It's hard to mention one without mentioning the other two. Shafer (10-3, 2.74 ERA, 96 strikeouts), Musgrave (10-1, 1.96 ERA, 92 Ks), and Capra (9-0, 2.47 ERA, 80 Ks) make up one of the best, if not the best, rotation in the country.
Runner-up: Tyler Lyons, Oklahoma State
Relief Pitcher - Andrew Cashner, TCU - Cashner has come up big for the Horned Frogs all season long. The JC transfer has posted an 8-3 record (leads the team in wins) with a 1.80 ERA and nine saves, with 74 strikeouts in only 50 innings. Cashner has allowed only 19 hits in his 28 appearances.
Runner-up: Robbie Weinhardt, OSU
Infielder - Thomas Belza, Oklahoma State - Belza, a redshirt freshman, may be OSU's leading hitter (.388 average), but he's here because he's done a nice job defensively, with only four errors in more than 200 chances (.980 fielding percentage).
Runner-up: Matt Vain, TCU
Outfielder - Clint Arnold, TCU - Arnold is TCU's leading hitter with a .388 average, and he's also played flawlessly in the outfield, with no erros in 122 chances.
Runner-up: Scott Kaskie, Western Kentucky
Homerun Hitter - Chad Creger, Western Kentucky - Creger is one of the nation's top power hitters (20 homers) and run producers (78 RBI). The Mississippi native has had a fine debut season in Division I after two seasons at Northwest C.C., and is hitting .355 with 86 hits on the season.
Runner-up: Rebel Ridling, OSU
Coach - Gene Stephenson, Wichita State - Stephenson took the reins of a dormant Wichita State program three decades ago and turned it into one of the nation's premier teams in a run that has seen the Shockers make seven trips to the College World Series, win a national championship in 1989, make 26 (counting this season) regional appearances, and win well over 1,600 games.
Runner-up: Jim Schlossnagle, TCU

The Forecast

For the last few seasons, Oklahoma State's had no problem beating opponents with their bats, but pitching has been a struggle. Well, they can still definitely beat teams with their bats, but with Lyons (11-2, 3.33 ERA, 86 Ks) and Andrew Oliver (7-2, 2.20 ERA, 96 Ks) leading the rotation and getting many solid efforts from the bullpen from the likes of Weinhardt (5-0, 3.76 ERA) and Matt Peck (2-1, 2.66 ERA), their pitching has made big strides this season after ending last season with Louisville hanging 20 runs on them in a decisive Super Regional game. But, they could be in for a test against Western Kentucky, who has a lineup full of good hitters and a star pitcher in Matt Ridings (10-2, 3.63 ERA, 93 Ks), who could slow down the powerful OSU bats. Speaking of pitching, Wichita State's three-headed monster could carry them in Stillwater, though they've got some firepower at the plate, most notably Conor Gillaspie (.421, 14 doubles, 8 triples, 10 homers, 77 RBI, 16 steals). This isn't to say that I'm counting TCU out, because their experience, not to mention their talent, could see them make some noise. Their starting pitching will have to step up and do well, because the early part of the regionals is not where you want to be wearing out your bullpen.

The Predictions

Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Wichita State Oklahoma State Oklahoma State Wichita State

Read more from Eddie throughout the week at
www.NCAABaseballReport.com

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