April 5, 2013


Around the Nation

By Phil Stanton

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @roadtoomaha



Following its 6-5 victory over No. 14 South Carolina on Wednesday at Fluor Field, Furman participated in a head-shaving fund-raiser that has so far raised $17,315 for the Vs. Cancer Foundation. There were 37 players and coaches who sat on top of the Paladin dugout to have their heads shaved by employees of Headline Haircuts. The Vs. Cancer Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children through the efforts of athletes and communities against childhood cancer.


Furman has greatly surpassed its goal of $10,000 and currently leads 42 participating programs.


A year ago, the Paladins raised $12,487 with their head-shaving event, one of the largest totals among collegiate baseball teams. (photos courtesy of Furman Media Relations)




Oregon State head coach Pat Casey had his contract extended through the 2018 season. He has a record of 641-380-4 (.627) and is the program’s career leader in victories. Casey led the Beavers to a pair of national championships in 2006 and 2007. He is a three-time Pac-10 and national Coach of the Year. OSU has registered 16 winning seasons in Casey’s 18 years in Corvallis. The Beavers are 35-14 (.714) in the postseason under Casey. No. 7 Oregon State takes a 23-4 record into No. 10 UCLA this weekend. (photo by Ethan Erickson)




There is a pair of Top Ten matchups to headline this week’s slate. Along with the above-mentioned Oregon State at UCLA series, No. 2 LSU hosts No. 8 Kentucky in SEC play.


The Tigers sit atop the SEC Western Division with an 8-1 record and have won 27 of 29 overall. LSU has the top offense in the conference with a team batting average of .308. The Tigers also lead the league with 27 home runs and with a fielding percentage of .981. The LSU offense has more walks (143) than strikeouts (137). The Tigers are fourth in the SEC in ERA at 2.49. LSU swept a three-game conference set at Missouri a week ago.


The Wildcats are second in the SEC Eastern Division, 6-3 in league play and 22-6 overall. UK is third in the conference in ERA at 2.46. The Wildcats are fifth in the league in batting at .286. Kentucky will have to handle the imposing atmosphere at Alex Box Stadium. The Wildcats took two of three at home from Georgia this past weekend.




Oregon State is second in the Pas-12 at 5-1 behind Oregon at 8-1. The Beavers have the top pitching staff in the conference with a team ERA of 1.90. Opponents are hitting just .211 against the OSU arms. The Beavers are third in the league in batting at .287. Oregon State dropped two of three at San Diego in non-conference action a week ago.


UCLA is in third in the Pac-12 at 6-3 with an overall mark of 18-7. The Bruins are fourth in the conference in ERA at 2.73. UCLA is second in the league in fielding at .979. The Bruins have struggled at times at the plate, sitting seventh in the Pac-12 in batting at .264. UCLA lost two of three at Arizona State last week.




There are numerous important series this weekend. Others in the West include No. 9 Oregon at Arizona State in the Pac-12, Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara in the Big West, North Dakota at Houston Baptist in the Great West, Nevada at San Diego State in the Mountain West, CSU Bakersfield at UT Arlington in the WAC, Gonzaga at Portland and San Diego at Loyola Marymount in the WCC.


In the Southeast, No. 3 Vanderbilt visits No. 16 Ole Miss and No. 11 Arkansas plays at Alabama in the SEC. Others include No. 6 Florida State at Miami and Virginia Tech at NC State in the ACC, Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt, Georgia Southern at Appalachian State in the SoCon, Campbell at Presbyterian and Liberty at Coastal Carolina in the Big South, Mercer at UNF and FGCU at Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun, Norfolk State at Delaware State (seven-game win streak) in the MEAC and Southern at Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the SWAC.


In the Central, Indiana looks to extend its 16-game win streak by hosting Illinois in Big Ten play. Others include Ohio State at Minnesota in the Big Ten, No. 12 Oklahoma at Texas in the Big 12, No. 20 Rice at East Carolina in Conference USA, Tennessee Tech at Austin Peay and Belmont (eight-game win streak) at UT Martin in the Ohio Valley, Indiana State at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley, McNeese State at Sam Houston State in the Southland, Toledo at Buffalo in the MAC, Milwaukee at Youngstown State in the Horizon and North Dakota State at South Dakota State in the Summit.


In the Northeast, Pittsburgh takes its nine-game win streak to USF in the Big East. Others include George Mason at Delaware (nine-game win streak), Hofstra (eight-game win streak) at Northeastern and William and Mary at Towson in the CAA, Saint Louis at Butler in the Atlantic 10, Canisius at Rider in the MAAC, Sacred Heart at Quinnipiac in the NEC, Binghamton at Maine in America East, Holy Cross at Lafayette in the Patriot, while cross-division doubleheaders continue in the Ivy League.




It’s interesting to analyze the Conference RPIs at www.boydsworld.com. I am surprised to see the ACC ranked No. 1 ahead of second-place SEC. The Pac-12 is third, followed by the Sun Belt and Big 12. It is impressive to see the Big Ten in sixth. The Big West is seventh, followed by the Southern and Big East. The most surprising league to me is the CAA in 10th, ahead of Conference USA, WCC, Big South, Southland and MVC. UNC Wilmington (21-9, RPI 33) and William and Mary (20-10, RPI 25) have already reached 20 wins, with Delaware (19-8, RPI 48) knocking on the door. No team is worse than five games below .500 in its overall record and only one team has an RPI below 200.