NoleGameday

Florida State Regional Breakdown

Florida State has been selected to host the Tallahassee regional tournament for the third consecutive season. They will be joined in the bracket with no. 2 seed Southern Mississippi, no. 3 seed South Alabama, and no. 4 seed Alabama State. We’ll breakdown each opponent as well as the Seminoles’ chance at advancing in one of the hardest regional brackets in the country.

No. 1 Seed Florida State 

Record: 37-20 (16-10 ACC)

Conference Champion?: No

Top Players: John Sansone, Taylor Walls, Jackson Lueck

Most Important Players: Drew Carlton, Tyler Holton, Dylan Busby

Head Coach: Mike Martin

 

The Seminoles enter the Tallahassee Regional riding a bit of momentum after making an inspired run through the ACC Tournament, including a walk-off winner against top-seeded Miami, and eventually falling in the title game against Clemson. Before the tournament, Florida State had been on a bit of a tailspin by losing three consecutive ACC road series and losing their national seed projection in the process.

The top players for this team, unsurprisingly, all come from the offense. Sansone, Walls, and Lueck (ever since he moved into the starting lineup) have been the top three batters in the batting order as well as the best three hitters on the team.

John Sansone has turned in a career season leading the team in hits (85), doubles (22), RBI (62), and total bases (134). Sansone has quick hands as he is able to turn and drive inside fastballs and he has a smooth, compact swing that generates line drives.

Taylor Walls has provided a spark to the lineup ever since he moved to the lead off spot. Walls gets on base at a .480 clip, so Walls is getting on base basically half of the time he steps up to bat. That is beyond impressive.

Jackson Lueck might be the most impressive hitter in the lineup. Ever since getting regular playing time, the freshman has led the team in on-base percentage (.522) and slugging percentage (.583).

The key to winning the regional for the Seminoles is going to be their reliance on their young arms. Drew Carlton, Tyler Holton, and Cole Sands are scheduled to start the first three games this weekend and Carlton is the most experienced being a sophomore. Carlton got hot towards the end of the season and Holton has been arguably the best pitcher for Florida State over the latter part of the season. Holton’s last performance was a 7+ inning performance against Miami to help send the Seminoles to the ACC championship game.

First baseman Dylan Busby has been on an absolute tear heading into the regional. Busby has been one of the better contributors for the offense this season but he destroyed pitching in the ACC tournament culminating in a walk-off single against Miami and an all-tournament selection. If Busby can keep up hit hot hitting the Seminoles will have yet another bat to add to opposing team’s watchlists.

 

No. 2 seed Southern Mississippi

Record: 40-18 (CUSA 20-10)

Conference Champion? Won Conference Tournament

Top Players: Tim Lynch, Dylan Burdeaux, Kirk McCarty

Head Coach: Scott Berry

 

Southern Miss finished 3rd during the regular season in Conference USA behind a very good Florida Atlantic team and Marshall. The Golden Eagles have used the strength of their lineup to surge through the regular season.

Taylor Braley, arguably the team’s best hitter, will miss the regionals after he suffered a knee injury in early April. He mashed an unbelievable .688 slugging percentage on the season and hit 10 homeruns in only 27 games played.

Tim Lynch and Dylan Burdeaux have carried the team in Braley’s absence. Both players have batting averages at or above .340, at least 10 homeruns, and slugging percentages above .540. The Seminoles pitching will have to tread carefully against this lineup.

 

No. 3 seed South Alabama

Record: 40-20 (21-9 Sun Belt)

Conference Champion? Co-Champion with UL Lafayette

Top Players: Randy Bell, Kevin Hill, Cole Billingsley

Head Coach: Mark Calvi

 

The South Alabama Jaguars have gotten through this season on the strength of their pitching staff. Ace Kevin Hill has been an absolute workhorse for the Jaguars having a 2.53 ERA across 117.0 (!!) innings pitched this season. This includes 4 complete games and only a .211 batting average against. Hill also has a 9.6 K/9 this season.

Not to be outdone, Randy Bell, albeit in only 79.0 innings, has been just as impressive. He has a 2.38 ERA on the season and has been just as important as Hill in limiting opposing offenses.

Cole Billingsley has been the primary run manufacturer for the Jaguars this season. Billingsley is hitting above .300 to go along with 31 stolen bases. He will be a threat on the base paths so Cal Raleigh and the pitchers are going to have to be wary of Billingsley’s speed.

 

No. 4 seed Alabama State

Record: 38-15 (24-0 SWAC)

Conference Champion? Both regular season and conference tournament

Top Players: Dillon Cooper, Carlos Ocasio, Tyler Howe

Head Coach: Mervyl Melendez

 

The Alabama State Hornets demolished the competition in the SWAC this season as they went a perfect 24-0 in the conference. They used a combination of explosive hitting and shutdown pitching to dismantle their SWAC opponents.

The offense was incredible this season as eight (!!) of nine starters had a batting average above .285. Also, every starter had an on-base percentage at or above .353. Dillon Cooper led the way for the Hornets as he led the team in batting average (.359), slugging perentage (.641), doubles (20), and hit by pitches (16). Carlos Ocasio was also swinging a hot bat for the Hornets as he led the team in RBI (60), runs scored (61), and total bases (123).

The pitching was also dominant as Tyler Howe led the way. Howe had a 1.48 ERA over 79.0 innings and also had two complete game shutouts to add to his resume. Joseph Camacho should not be forgotten either as his ERA was only 2.04 in 83.2 innings. The bullpen struggled this season as all but one reliever had ERAs above 3.76.

The key for the Hornets pitching staff this season has been for the starters to take the majority of the innings and for the offense to simply outhit everyone.

Vinnie Cervino
Lead Baseball Writer, Perpetually Pessimistic Sport Fan, Proprietor of My Own Delusions and Fallacies, 80 Grade Takes. Twitter @cervino_vinnie.

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