On this regional preview edition of the College Baseball Central Podcast, Joe Healy and Scott Stone take a look at the Austin Regional, hosted by the Texas Longhorns. The teams competing for a regional title here are:
Texas Longhorns (37-20, Big 12 at-large)
The Longhorns are hosting a regional for the first time since 2011. This team might have overachieved a little it relative to expectations coming into the season, and big part of that is the breakout season for Kody Clemens, who hit .341/.431/.687 with 19 home runs on the season. Pitchers like closer Andy McGuire (2.12 ERA, 7 SV) and starter Blair Henley (5-6, 3.54 ERA) have had nice seasons, but this is a Texas team that will lean heavily on its offense, which is different from what we’re used to seeing with the Longhorns.
Indiana Hoosiers (38-17, Big Ten at-large)
For the fifth time in six years, Indiana is into a regional, and that fact should be amazing to anyone who followed the program prior to former head coach Tracy Smith’s arrival. Offensively, they can really hurt you with the long ball, as they have 63 home runs as a team, and seven different players have at least six on the season. A key for them will be the ability to generate runs when they the ball isn’t leaving the yard.
Texas A&M Aggies (39-20, SEC at-large)
The Aggies limped down the stretch of the regular season a little bit, but did enough in the SEC tournament to secure their spot in a regional. Because a team like Kentucky was left out of the field, they’re the only team in the field with a losing conference record. They might be playing some of their best baseball right now, though, and that, combined with their significant talent, makes them a dangerous three seed. In the bullpen, Nolan Hoffman (1.24 ERA, 14 SV) has been an absolute workhorse, and a solid offense is led by a couple of second-year players in Braden Shewmake and Logan Foster and a JUCO transfer in Michael Helman.
Texas Southern Tigers (27-26, SWAC automatic)
TSU swept their way through the SWAC tournament and coming into Austin not only with momentum, but also loaded with both the SWAC Player of the Year in Kamren Dukes (.396/.463/.548, 22 2B) and the SWAC Pitcher of the Year in Aaron Solis (10-3, 3.44 ERA). TSU has plenty of regional experience, and they’ll be looking to do more than just compete hard this time around.