Fresh off their impressive sweep of Rhode Island to kick off the 2016 season, the Florida State Seminoles next play host to the College of Charleston Cougars for a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon. All time, FSU is 11-1 against CoC, with the most recent wins coming in last year's Tallahassee Regional where the Seminoles twice defeated the Cougars, 3-2 and 8-1.
Since that time, the Cougars has seen some severe changes, losing head coach Monte Lee to the Clemson Tigers and losing their most productive hitter, Nick Pappas, and pitcher, Taylor Clarke, from a season ago to the MLB Draft. Despite the losses, CoC has reloaded well, promoting former assistant coach Matt Heath to the head coach spot and bringing back many of last year's talents including first baseman Bradley Jones (.309 batting average and 11 homers in 2015) and right-handed pitcher Bailey Ober, who returns to the team after missing last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The College of Charleston was picked to finish second in the Colonial Conference and started the 2016 season with a series win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Five Cougar players were named to the preseason All-CAA team with three more receiving honorable mentions.
For the pitching matchups, Friday will see Florida State's veteran starter Mike Compton (1-0, 1.80 ERA this season, 4-4 3.55 ERA in 2015) face off against CoC's Nathan Helvey, a senior with a 15-11 career record and 3.25 career ERA who was projected by Baseball America to be the CAA Pitcher of the Year.
On Saturday, Seminole sophomore Drew Carlton (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 2016, 5-5, 4.04 ERA in 2015) will go up against the aforementioned Bailey Ober (0-0, 6.23 ERA) who had an impressive 2014 season (10-3, 1.52 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) before missing all of 2015. Despite the absence, there is palpable hype surrounding Ober, who D1 Baseball selected as it's preseason pick for CAA Pitcher of the Year.
Sunday brings an intriguing matchup with FSU freshman Cole Sands (1-0, 0.00 ERA) in his second career start battling Charleston's Hayden McCutcheon (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who is probably very eager for another chance against Florida State, who rocked him for six runs, all earned, and eight hits in four innings of work in the Seminoles' regional-clinching 8-1 win last year.
Florida State enters the weekend with a .413 team batting average after three games, the second-best team average in Division I baseball, and 50 runs scored, the most by any team that has played only three games. However, College of Charleston will do its best to make the Seminoles work for it as, in 2015, the Cougars issued only 2.38 walks per game, good for ninth in the NCAA.
Offensively, CoC could present a much stiffer challenge than the one presented last weekend by Rhode Island. Last season, the Cougars finished the year in the top 20 nationally in doubles (131, 10th in NCAA), hits (636, 10th in NCAA), home runs (75, 2nd in NCAA), scoring (7.3 runs per game, 10th in NCAA) and slugging percentage (.483, 4th in NCAA).
The series gets underway Friday with first pitch scheduled for 4 PM , the middle matchup will be Saturday at 1 PM, and the final game starts at 1 PM on Sunday. All three games will be streamed on NolesTV, which is available for a monthly subscription of $3.99 per month. On radio, the entire series will be broadcast on 106.1 FM and online at Seminoles.com. Tomahawk Nation will also be in attendance at each game, providing play-by-play game threads.