Arkansas among teams to watch in college baseball
A capsule look at some of the top college baseball teams to watch this season (coaches' records at current schools entering season):
Coach: Dave Van Horn (405-223, 11th season).
Last season: 46-22, College World Series.
Key players: RHP Ryne Stanek (8-4, 2.82 ERA), LHP Randall Fant (2-3, 3.27), RHP Colby Suggs (7-1, 1.38), 1B Dominic Ficociello (.290, 6 HRs, 41 RBIs), OF Brian Anderson (.283, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs), OF Joe Serrano (.333, 7 RBIs), C Jake Wise (.244, 2 HRs, 25 RBIs).
Extra Bases: Razorbacks are ranked No. 1 in three major polls after tying for third in last year's CWS. ... Their 46 victories were the most under Van Horn and most in a season since 1990. ... Ten pitchers return from staff that had 2.83 ERA, the second-lowest in program history. ... Stanek and Fant return as weekend starters, and Suggs and Barrett Astin could give Hogs the nation's top bullpen. ... Six position players who made 30 or more starts are back.
Coach: Mike Fox (635-262-1, 15th season).
Last season: 46-16, NCAA regionals.
Key players: LHP Kent Emanuel (8-4, 1.96), RHP Benton Moss (7-2, 1.94), LHP Hobbs Johnson (7-1, 1.56 ERA), 3B Colin Moran (.365, 3 HRs, 35 RBIs), CF Chaz Frank (.293, 39 RBIs, 16 SB), 1B Cody Stubbs (.258, 5 HRs, 35 RBIs), DH Brian Holbertson (.297, 1 HR, 15 RBIs).
Extra Bases: Tar Heels return their weekend rotation, which combined for 22 wins and all posted sub-2.00 ERAs. Carolina's 2.66 team ERA was fourth in the nation, and staff's 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings were seventh. ... Carolina took average of 4.9 walks a game, fourth-most in country. ... Moran's .365 average was best on the team, and he brings .347 career average and two-year total of 106 RBIs into season. ... The bullpen lost All-American Michael Morin, whose 19 saves ranked second nationally, but there's still ample depth.
Coach: Tim Corbin (411-217, 11th season).
Last season: 35-28, NCAA regionals.
Key players: RF Mike Yastrzemski (.286, 6, 41), CF Connor Harrell (.241, 7, 26), 1B Conrad Gregor (.328, 3, 35), 2B Tony Kemp (.261, 1, 31, 21 SBs), C Spencer Navin (.298, 3 HRs, 27 RBIs), RHP T.J. Pecoraro (2-4, 3.40), LHP Kevin Ziomek (5-6, 5.22), RHP Tyler Beede (1-5, 4.52).
Extra Bases: Commodores won 28 of their last 41 games and would have gone to super regionals if they hadn't blown a six-run lead in the last two innings against N.C. State in regional final. ... Scott Brown, formerly at St. John's, was hired last fall as pitching coach. ... Commodores lost second-rounder Sam Selman and fourth-rounder Drew Verhagen to pro ball, but the weekend rotation returns. Brian Miller is centerpiece of a young bullpen that figures to get better with time. ... Commodores signed a second straight recruiting class widely regarded as best in the nation.
Coach: Chad Holbrook, 1st season.
Last season: 49-20, College World Series runner-up.
Key players: 1B L.B. Dantzler (.262, 10, 48), SS Joey Pankake (.264, 2, 27), CF Tanner English (.298, 0, 23), C Grayson Greiner (.222, 6, 32), RHP Colby Holmes (7-2, 3.05), LHP Jordan Montgomery (6-1, 3.62), LHP Tyler Webb (6-1, 1.56).
Extra Bases: Holbrook takes over for Ray Tanner, who became the Gamecocks' athletic director. Holbrook was Tanner's top lieutenant for four years and served as his recruiting coordinator. ... Gamecocks fell short of winning a third straight national championship, losing to Arizona in the CWS finals. ... Team loses great leadership in lefty Michael Roth, who always came up big at the CWS, and slugger Christian Walker. But Gamecocks still return six position starters and 13 pitchers... Dantzler will move from third to first base and Chase Vergason from second to third and Tanner English from left field to center. Freshman Max Schrock is projected starter at second.
Coach: Mark Marquess (1,504-777-7, 37th season).
Last season: 41-18, NCAA super regional.
Key players: RHP Mark Appel (10-2, 2.56), LHP John Hochstatter (3-3, 4.53), RF Austin Wilson (.285, 10, 54), 1B Brian Ragira (.329, 5, 50), 3B Alex Blandino (.294, 8, 40), RHP AJ Vanegas (4-0, 2.62), 2B Danny Diekroeger (.354, 3, 10), SS Lonnie Kauppila, Jr. (.280, 0, 13).
Extra Bases: Cardinal is the coaches' choice to win the Pac-12. ... Appel was eighth pick overall in 2012 draft (Pirates) and only first-round pick to not sign. ... Appel is the nation's only player to repeat as a preseason first-team All-American by Baseball America. Appel was the only unanimous selection in the scouting director balloting. ... Closer A.J. Vanegas (herniated disc) is expected to be out until late March. ... Dominic Jose, son of former major-leaguer Felix Jose, will be the first-year starter in left field. ... Kauppila is coming off off-season ACL surgery.
Coach: Paul Mainieri (258-122-2, 7th season).
Last season: 47-18, NCAA super regional.
Key players: 2B JaCoby Jones (.253, 4, 29), C Ty Ross (.292, 3, 41), RHP Ryan Eades (5-3, 3.83), LF Raph Rhymes (.431, 4, 53), 1B Mason Katz (.320, 13, 52), RHP Aaron Nola (7-4, 3.61), RHP Nick Rumbelow, Jr. (0-0, 3.65).
Extra Bases: LSU will be looking to get back to the CWS for the first time since 2009 after getting stunned at home by Stony Brook in super regionals. ... Rhymes is returning Southeastern Conference player of the year and nation's top returning hitter. ... Katz is the leading returning home-run hitter (13)... Nola and Eades take over as co-aces after the departure of Kevin Gausman (12-2, 2.77), who struck out 135 in 123 2/3 innings and was the first pitcher taken in the draft (Orioles).
Coach: John Savage (275-207, 9th season).
Last season: 48-16, College World Series.
Key players: RHP Adam Plutko (12-3, 2.48), RHP Nick Vander Tuig (10-4, 4.43, LHP Grant Watson (9-2, 4.45), 1B Cody Regis (.239, 1, 25), SS Pat Valaika (.266, 1, 39), 2B Kevin Williams (.302, 2, 21).
Extra Bases: UCLA's 48 wins last season were second-most in program history, and Bruins won a second straight Pac-12 title for first time. ... Bruins are picked second behind Stanford in Pac-12. ... Last year's top five batters, and 18 of the team's 23 homers, are gone. Regis has proven power, after hitting 15 home runs his first two seasons, but he went deep just once in 2012. ... Reliever David Berg led nation with 50 appearances, and his Pac-12-leading 1.46 ERA ranked fourth on UCLA's single-season list.
Coach: Pat Casey (617-376-4, 19th season).
Last season: 40-20, NCAA regional.
Key players: LF Michael Conforto (.349, 13, 76), 1B Danny Hayes (.307, 5, 27), DH Dylan Davis (.247, 3, 30), SS Tyler Smith (.343, 1, 39), LHP Ben Wetzler (8-2, 3.10), RHP Dan Child (6-4, 2.95), LHP Matt Boyd (4-0, 3.41).
Extra Bases: Conforto's 76 RBIs were a school record. ... Beavers have appeared in NCAA tournament a program-record four straight years and will be trying for a third straight 40-win season. ... Oregon State won national titles in 2006-07, but no current players have CWS experience. ... The Beavers played 19 one-run games, winning 10. ... Oregon State was 27-0 when scoring six or more runs and 18-0 when holding opponents to two runs or less. ... Smith batted .343 after going into last season with a .236 career average.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Coach: Elliott Avent (599-382, 17th season).
Last season: 43-20, NCAA super regional.
Key players: SS Trea Turner (.336, 5, 43, 57 stolen bases), C Brett Austin (.284, 0, 37), RF Jake Fincher (.300, 1, 23), LHP Carlos Rodon (9-0, 1.57), RHP Logan Jernigan (5-1, 5.71).
Extra Bases: Wolfpack is Atlantic Coast Conference favorite and out to end 45-year absence from CWS. ... NC State started three or more true freshmen in 61 of 63 games last year, held a 13-5 record when starting five freshmen and went 33-14 when starting four or more. ... Rodon was national freshman pitcher of the year. ... Turner's school-record 57 stolen bases led nation. ... CF Brett Williams returns after tearing his ACL in the 2012 opener. Williams hit .286 with six homers and 35 RBIs in 2011.
Coach: Andy Lopez (403-246-1, 12th season).
Last season: 48-17, College World Series champion.
Key players: CF Johnny Field (.370, 3, 44), RHP Konner Wade (11-3, 3.96), RHP James Farris (7-3, 3.97), RHP Mathew Troupe (6-1, 3.47, 6 saves), C Riley Moore (.301, 1, 38), 3B Brandon Dixon (.245, 1, 14), 2B Trent Gilbert (.272, 0, 42), LF/RF Joseph Maggi (.326, 0, 19).
Extra Bases: Wildcats went undefeated in the postseason during their run to their fourth national championship, and first since 1986. ... Arizona must replace leadoff man and Nos. 3 through 6 batters. ... Wade, who threw back-to-back complete games in CWS, takes over as staff ace for workhorse Kurt Heyer. ... Troupe is undisputed closer after earning two wins in CWS. ... Moore is hitting exclusively from his natural left side after switch-hitting until late last season. ... Field, the Pac-12 batting champion, moves from left field to center field. Maggi, the starting first baseman the second half of last season, will play one of the corner outfield spots.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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