Florida State makes it 33rd consecutive regional appearance by playing Central Connecticut State Friday at 2:00 PM in the Norwich, CT. That game will be followed by the Oregon Ducks and the Connecticut Huskies at 7:00 PM. Inside we will preview each team and what we can expect from them this upcoming weekend.
#4 Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils - Northeast Conference
The Blue Devils finished 3rd in the Northeast Conference 7 games behind Bryant University but won the conference tournament earning them an automatic bid and a spot in Regionals for the first time since 2004. Of the 32 conferences in Division I baseball the Northeast Conference currently has an RPI of 27.
The conference as a whole is not pitching dominated and Central Connecticut is not a team that counts on their staff to win their games. This is an area where the Blue Devils will be exploited as they do not have anyone on their team that could be even considered an "Ace".
Central Connecticut does excel offensively and leads the conference in just about every offensive category. Senior Sean Allaire was named the 2010 NEC Player of the Year this season and lead the conference with a 1.385 OPS in conference only play. In their only game versus a Top 100 RPI team they went on the road beat the Connecticut Huskies by scoring 7 runs on 15 hits.
#3 Oregon Ducks - Pac 10 Conference
Oregon finished the season 5th in the Pac 10 but given the depth of quality teams in their conference they were able to earn an at-large bid in only their second season of baseball after nearly a break of 2 decades. The Pac 10 currently holds the #1 RPI amongst all conferences and sent 8 teams to post season play.
The Ducks have a phenomenal pitching staff that and are well above league average in a conference dominated by pitching. Their starting 3, Anderson, LaTempa and Thornton have the ability to completely shut down opposing hitters and together have an amazing strikeout to walk ratio of 4.24.
As you can see the Oregon offense does nothing impressive offensively. They are a station to station small ball team that relies on their starting pitching to keep them in low scoring games. No one for the Ducks had more than 2 homeruns in conference play this season.
#2 Connecticut Huskies - Big East Conference
The Huskies finished the Big East season 2nd behind Louisville and made it to the conference tournament final where they to lost to St. John's but their overall body of work was enough to earn them an at-large bid. The Big East conference as a whole has not very good, half of their teams are ranked 100 or worse in RPI with only 2 teams having an RPI in the Top 50. The conference currently sits at 7 in the RPI rankings.
Connecticut's excellent pitching staff is led by Elliot Glynn, Matt Barnes and Greg Nappo who have all posted sub 4.00 ERAs in conference play this year. The Huskies bullpen has been just as good thanks to Kevin Vance and Scott Oberg who have allowed just 2 extra base hits in 25.1 innings of work.
This is a team that takes advantage of their team speed by stealing bases and moving runners into scoring position. In conference play the Huskies had 77 attempts, 1 less than Oregon and Florida State combined. Connecticut's main power threat comes from Mike Olt but also receives support from George Springer and Mike Nemeth.
#1 Florida State Seminoles - ACC Conference
The Seminoles finished 2nd place in the Atlantic division and despite losing their first game in the ACC tournament they won their next 3 games en route to their 5th conference title. The ACC is currently ranked 3rd in RPI and is sending a record 8 teams into Regional play.
Florida State's pitching is not the reason they won many games this season. In a starting pitching role the Seminoles had an ERA of 8.00 which was last in the conference. Their pitching was much improved in the conference tournament and will need to continue that good pitching in the postseason.
The Seminoles were one of the more potent offenses in the ACC this season and were led by juniors Mike McGee (.997 OPS) and Tyler Holt (1.208 OPS). This offense might have to continue outslugging teams if the pitching reverts back to its regular season form.
So there you have it, a brief breakdown of every team in the Norwich Regional. As Florida State progresses through the weekend will preview each matchup starting tomorrow with Central Connecticut State.