2013 Starkville Regional

(capsules compiled by Sean Ryan, Phil Stanton, Zachary Kerr)


1. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Starkville, Mississippi

At-large bid from SEC

2013 record: 16-14, 43-17 (third in SEC West)

Head coach: John Cohen (Mississippi State, 1990)

Record at school: 169-128, 5 years

Overall record: 490-324-1, 14 years

Assistant coaches: Butch Thompson, Nick Mingione, Tyler Bratton

Last NCAA appearance: 2012 (1-2 at Tallahassee Regional)

Notes: The Bulldogs will host a regional for the 12th time and the first since 2003. MSU reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, falling to Vanderbilt. The bullpen had thrown 44.0 consecutive scoreless innings in Hoover, going back to last year, before the Commodores snapped the streak. The Bulldogs won the SEC tourney a year ago. MSU is fourth in the nation with 69 double plays. The pitching staff is 11th in the country in hits per nine innings (7.31), 13th in ERA (2.77) and 15th in WHIP (1.18). Ross Mitchell is eighth in the nation with 11 victories and Jonathan Holder is ninth with 16 saves. Adam Frazier carries an 11-game hit streak into the NCAA tourney. Brett Pirtle has reached base in 33 straight games. The Bulldogs have reached the College World Series eight times, the last in 2007. Coach John Cohen played on the 1990 MSU CWS team and returned to his alma mater after coaching Kentucky, where he was honored by CollegeBaseballInsider.com as national coach of the year in 2006.


2. South Alabama Jaguars

Notes: South Alabama finished first in the Sun Belt standings but lost badly to three-seed Louisiana-Lafayette twice in the conference tournament. Head coach Mark Calvi received the Sun Belt Ron Maestri Coach of the Year Award in just his second season as the team's skipper. Senior second baseman Robby Campbell, senior designated hitter Dustin Dalken, and junior utility man Jordan Patterson made the All-Sun Belt First Team. Patterson was also dubbed the Sun Belt Player of the Year. He finished the conference tournament sixth in the country in doubles, seventh in runs with 67, 13th in on-base percentage at .493, and 22nd in getting hit by 20 pitches. Senior Jeff DeBlieux led Division I with 10 triples. Seniors Nolan Earley, Whitt Dorsey, and Kyle Bartsch made the second team as outfielder, catcher, and relief pitcher, along with junior starter Matt Bell. Dorsey and Patterson received All-Sun Belt honors last season, as well.


3. Mercer Bears

Notes: Mercer is making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears earned their first at-large bid. Mercer was the last team in, according to committee chair Farrell. The Bears won the Atlantic Sun regular season crown. They were victorious in their first A-Sun tourney game, then lost two straight. Mercer had wins the first weekend of the season against fellow bubble teams Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Bears also had a home win over Georgia Tech in early April. Mercer is the top fielding team in the nation at .982. The Bears are hitting .301, led by Chesny Young at .394. Young is first in the country with 100 hits. Mercer is fifth in the nation in walks (301), sixth in home runs (56) and sixth in runs (437).


4. Central Arkansas Bears

Notes: UCA is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bears won the Southland Conference Tournament by winning five straight elimination games to earn its first bid and set a program record with 39 victories. Forrestt Allday was named tourney Most Valuable Player. Freshman right-hander Connor Gilmore tossed a two-hit shutout in the title game, a 4-0 win over Southeastern Louisiana. UCA will travel to Starkville, Miss., for the second time this season. The Bears took two of three from then-third-ranked Mississippi State from March 8-10. The Bulldogs took the opener 4-2 before UCA won 7-5 in 10 innings and 7-3 in the finale to take the series. The Bears are batting .268 compared to .248 for opponents, but UCA has an on-base percentage advantage (.404 to .300) based on an edge of 345-118 on walks and 117-38 on HBP. The Bears are first in the nation in walks and first with 92 sacrifice bunts. They are third with 117 hit-by-pitches. Their pitching staff is second in the country in walks per nine innings at 2.0.