Southern College Sports regional preview

Southern Conference Champions - 2007

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Southern College Sports regional preview

Postby BestOfBreed on Thu May 31, 2007 11:20 am

Somebody actually giving the Terriers some love. ... _coch.html

Eddie, Staff Writer

The Field

(1) South Carolina (42-18)

The Gamecocks were the preseason SEC favorite, but instead finished second behind Vandy in the East, and were eliminated in the SEC tournament semis by Arkansas. Still, USC has their eighth straight 40+ win season, and hosts for the first time since 2004.

(2) N.C. State (37-21)

The Wolfpack finished third in the ACC Atlantic Division with a 16-14 record and went 1-2 in the ACC tournament. This year marks their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.

(3) Charlotte (47-10)

Charlotte steamrolled through the Atlantic 10, posting a 23-4 league record. The 49ers then swept the A-10 tournament, winning all three games by double digits and scoring 44 runs. Charlotte's making their first appearance in the tournament since 1998, and only their third in history.

(4) Wofford (30-31)

Wofford is a first-time entrant in the field of 64. The Terriers finished ninth in the SoCon at 8-19, but won five games in a row to win the SoCon tournament and the school’s first bid to the postseason. Wofford is first in the nation with 106 homers.

The Venue

Sarge Frye Field is named after the late longtime supervisor of athletic facilities and former Army sergeant Weldon B. Frye. The field is one of the nation’s most renowned hitter’s parks, which is why the Gamecocks perennially rank among the top power teams in the country. The dimensions are 325 down the left and right field lines, 365 to left and right center, and 390 to center. This postseason will mark the last games in the stadium, as USC will be moving into a new stadium in 2008, which will be just as much of a hitter‘s park as the current facility.

The Best

Starting Pitcher - Adam Mills, Charlotte - Vanderbilt’s David Price and San Diego’s Brian Matusz get most of the national attention, but Mills has been just as good as those two. He is 13-2, with a 1.06 ERA, and 136 Ks in 135.2 innings. The senior leads the nation in ERA and shutouts, is second in wins and complete games, and third in strikeouts.

Runner-up: Ben Austin, Wofford

Relief Pitcher - Eryk McConnell, North Carolina State - McConnell was a starter last season, but has been excellent as the closer this spring. He has a 3-2 record, a 1.19 ERA, and 11 saves in 27 appearances.

Runner-up: Jeff Jeffords, South Carolina

Infielder - Justin Smoak, James Darnell, & Travis Jones, South Carolina - These three have all hit 18 homers and driven in over 60 runs. Jones and Smoak are both solid in the field, having each only made four errors all season.

Runner-up: Mike Gilmartin, Wofford

Outfielder - Brad McElroy, Charlotte - The Canadian outfielder and JC transfer leads the 49ers in average (.412), doubles (24), homers (10), RBI (65), and runs scored (64). In the field, he has been pretty sharp, with just four errors in 115 chances.

Runner-up: Ryan Pond, N.C. State

Homerun Hitter - Brandon Waring, Wofford - South Carolina has their quartet of power hitters, and so does Wofford, led by Waring, who is tied for the national lead in long balls with 27. The junior third baseman was named the SoCon tournament’s MVP after hitting five homers and driving in 16 runs. For the year, he’s hitting .405 with 73 RBI.

Runner-up: Justin Smoak, South Carolina

Pro Prospect - Andrew Brackman - Brackman has been one of the hottest names in college baseball since his freshman year. At 6’10 with a rocket fastball, he’s a hot commodity. Even though the results haven’t quite been there, he’s still projected as a top-five prospect in the draft.

Runner-up: Justin Smoak, South Carolina

Coach - Ray Tanner, South Carolina - Tanner has done nothing but win since he arrived from N.C. State after the 1996 season. This year marks USC's ninth regional appearance in 11 years under Tanner, and his tenure also includes six super regionals in eight seasons, three trips to Omaha, nine 40+ and three 50+ win seasons, and several conference and division titles.

Runner-up: Elliott Avent, N.C. State

The Forecast

South Carolina and North Carolina State are the top two seeds and no doubt most people‘s picks to make it to the final, but they better watch out for their opponents on opening day. Even if Charlotte doesn‘t pitch Mills on Friday, the 49ers' #2, Spencer Steedley, is a stud on the mound as well, as is Zach Rosenbaum. South Carolina, meanwhile, has to take care of Wofford. The Gamecocks and Terriers are the nation’s top two power teams (Wofford with 106 homers, USC with 104), and with Sarge Frye being a hitter’s park, that could mean a big-time slugfest on Friday. Wofford ace Ben Austin has 11 wins this season, so if the Terrier bats get going, an upset could be in the offing.

It may well be their first appearance in the tournament, and it may be Charlotte’s first in nearly a decade, but don’t expect them to just be glad to be there. Another thing to keep in mind is while South Carolina has a deep and talented rotation, it’s also prone to inconsistency. It won’t be a surprise to see one of the lower seeds in the championship game on Sunday. Charlotte might be the pick to do it, because they have the arms, and they have enough offensive firepower, but Wofford could get there simply based on the strength of their lineup. Even so, you've got to have the Gamecocks as the favorite at home, though it's not as overwhelming as one might expect. The storyline to keep in mind is a potential meeting between South Carolina and Ray Tanner‘s alma mater and previous employer, N.C. State.

The Predictions

Eddie Jimmy Jonathan
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Postby Eyes of Old Main on Thu May 31, 2007 11:04 pm

One catagory leader and two catagory runner-ups is some pretty good props for the Terriers.
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