It’s off to Louisiana as Arizona State (37-17, 16-13 Pac-12) begins the NCAA Postseason in the Baton Rouge Regional.
The Sun Devils take on Southern Mississippi in their first game at 10 a.m local time on Friday, May 31 on ESPN3. Here is a little more to know about the Golden Eagles, as well as LSU and Stony Brook:
Southern Mississippi (38-19, 20-10 Conference USA)
The Golden Eagles were winners of the Conference USA Tournament. They have five different players who are batting at a clip above .300 under head coach Scott Berry, who has made big strides with the program over the last nine seasons.
Offensively, Southern Mississippi’s RBI and home run leader was junior Matt Wallner, who ended the season hitting .324 with 55 RBI’s and 21 big flies. As a team, the Golden Eagles hit a respectable .287. Along with Wallner, junior catcher Bryant Bowen led the team in batting average at .340 as a powerful backstop with 49 RBI’s.
Pitching is one area where powerful Sun Devil bats might look to expose. Southern Miss held a 5.05 team ERA. Junior pitcher Walker Powell made the most starts this season, and he held a 3.18 ERA and led the team in strikeouts with 53.
LSU (37-24, 17-13 SEC)
The host of this year’s regional comes in after getting eliminated by Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament. Led by head coach Paul Manieri, who coached ASU first baseman Spencer Torkelson on the collegiate Team USA national team last summer, the Tigers will look to take care of business on their home field.
This year’s regular season wasn’t one of the most lethal teams in the storied history of the Tiger baseball program, but there is still plenty of firepower that has to be dealt with if ASU ends up matching up with the host.
Junior infielder Josh Smith and senior outfielder Antoine Duplantis both led the Tigers in hits with 81, and Duplantis had 61 RBI’s in 61 games played.
On the mound, junior right-handed pitcher Zack Hess and sophomore Eric Walker have been two of the primary starters for LSU, both hauling over 67 innings and starting over 10 games. Hess leads the Tigers in strikeouts with 78, but his ERA is near five.
Stony Brook (31-21, 15-9 America East)
The Stony Brook baseball team finds themselves in a familiar setting for this year’s postseason, possibly creating haunting memories for LSU fans.
The Seawolves upset the Tigers in the 2012 Baton Rouge Super Regional to advance on a Cinderella run to the College World Series. If you aren’t too familiar with Stony Brook, there is some notable baseball history and alumni with the program from New York.
In 2012, the team was led by current San Diego Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski. The school has also fielded players such as longtime MLB closer Joe Nathan.
Led by veteran head coach Matt Senk, who has recorded 23 winning seasons in 28 years as coach, the Seawolves look to play spoiler in Baton Rouge once more as the four-seed in the regional.
Stony Brook hit .280 as a ball club, and junior outfielder Michael Wilson led the squad in average and home runs. He hit 10 homers and hit .345. The Seawolves have somewhat of a power shortage, as they have only blasted 39 long balls on the season. For perspective, ASU led the entire country with 92 blasts.
However, the defense has proven to be legitimate for Stony Brook, as the team had a .981 fielding percentage.
The wait is over, and it’s officially the best time of year for college baseball. It all begins tomorrow morning for the Sun Devils.