The Florida State Seminoles will open up the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship as the no. 5 overall national seed, and will host Georgia Southern, Kennesaw St. and Alabama in the Tallahassee Regional beginning Friday May, 30th inside Dick Howser Stadium.
FSU opens up its regional slate against Georgia Southern Friday night at 6 p.m.
This marks the 10th time the Seminoles have earned a national seed, which is the nation’s best total.
Since the NCAA went to the regional format in 1975, no other University has hosted more regionals than Florida State, who will be hosting in 2014 for the 31st time. The University of Miami is next on that list, hosting 24.
Along with this being the Seminoles’ 31st time hosting a regional, this also marks the 37th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, the second longest active streak in the nation.
In short, Mike Martin and his Seminoles belong in this position.
"Well it’s that time of year that all of us are excited to begin," head coach Mike Martin said. "We started last August with one goal in mind. Now we have an opportunity, and now it’s up to us to see how we handle it."
A year that has had its ups and downs, 2014 marks yet another successful regular season for Florida State. But that has never been the goal for a team that expects to make the post-season in stride year in and year out.
And while I don’t personally like using team ERA as the sole argument as to how good a pitching staff actually is, the Noles recorded their second best mark in over a decade with a 3.02 team ERA without Brandon Leibrandt, a crucial member of the weekend rotation. Only the 2013 Seminoles had a better team ERA (2.92) before having to date back to 2003(2.96).
"This staff has done a tremendous job this year, especially with everything that has gone on," FSU pitching coach Mike Bell said. "It really has been a group effort up to this point. And if we can get Brandon and Bryant back, they will gain even more confidence as a whole. The team will be that much more confident too."
Point is, these Noles can be much better than their blunders. And it’s all about getting hot at the right time.
But let’s take a look at some of the other teams in this region.
Georgia Southern (32-21) - Southern Conference Champs
Georgia Southern captured the SoCon Championship defeating Samford 4-3 Sunday afternoon, locking up its post-season bid. The Eagles' schedule isn't the strongest, they faced a few ACC and SEC teams during their 2014 season. In two games against Georgia Tech, Ga. Southern managed to split the series. They beat Georgia during both meetings, while taking one of two against Clemson.
Kennesaw State (37-21) - Atlantic Sun Conference Champs
Kennesaw has gotten it done a number of ways in 2014, but usually behind its leader and very high MLB Draft prospect, catcher Max Pentecost. Pentecost is hitting .423 with a slugging percentage of .634, and has tallied nine home runs on the year. With 104 hits, 21 of which have been doubles, Pentecost is someone to watch for during the Tallahassee Regional. Along with Pentecost, Bo Wade, Alex Liquori and Colin Bennett are also all hitting over .300.
Kennesaw's pitching has been off and on all year, but have two capable starters on staff in Travis Bergen and Jordan Hillyer. However, Kennesaw's bullpen has seen lots of innings this year.
This is a team that, if not treated as a threat, can sneak up and bite you.
Alabama (34-22) Conference (15-14)
The Crimson Tide are set to make their second consecutive appearance in the Tallahassee Regional. They have four guys in Austen Smith, Wade Wass, Ben Moore and Mikey White hitting above .300, two of which [Smith & White] are slugging .480+. And these four hitters combine for a total 25 home runs on the year.
The Tide have two mainstay starters in Spencer Turnbull and Justin Kamplain who have each thrown 80+ innings, followed by a plethora of 30-inning pitchers scattered throughout the staff. Turnbull holds his opponents to an average of .193, while Kamplain holds his to .206.
The winner of the Tallahassee Regional will go on to face the winner of the Louisville's in the Super Regionals.