College Baseball Super Regional Preview: Can Arkansas Live Up to the Hype?

College Baseball Super Regional

2021 NCAA Division-I college baseball is headed into the super regionals as of Friday and will determine the final eight teams worthy of advancing to next week’s College World Series.

Last year’s CWS had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is with tremendous joy that college baseball fans are able to welcome back their annual postseason tournament. 

College Baseball Super Regional Preview

#1 Arkansas has been the most consistent team all year, posting a record of 49-11 and finishing in the top-15 of major categories such as home runs, total scoring and hits allowed per nine innings. The Razorbacks were defeated once by #20 Nebraska in the Fayetteville regional but won the first and third games of the series to punch their ticket into the Super Regional. Their first step to winning the program’s first College World Series will be to defeat NC State this weekend.

#2 Texas will face South Florida in the Austin super regional and will favor themselves to take care of business and advance behind a strong rotation of pitchers. The Longhorns led the NCAA with a combined 2.87 ERA, .27 ahead of the second-place Fairfield Stags. The way to beat Texas is to score quickly; UT ranked outside the top-50 in batting average and is 48th in scoring and does not have explosive hitting throughout its roster.

Five of the sixteen teams participating in the weekend’s action find themselves outside of the top-25, none of which is playing better baseball than the Virginia Cavaliers. UVA avenged a first-round loss to South Carolina in the regional to advance to play #15 Old Dominion, who they swiftly disposed of in two games after outscoring them 12-6. This turnaround was largely unexpected after the Wahoos started their season 11-14, but they are deserving recipients of a spot in the Super Regional.

#3 Tennessee rounds out the presumptive favorites of the CWS with a 48-16 record and a few players capable of going yard at any time. The Vols, despite their powerful hitting, is not the best at consistently making contact, though their pitchers have rockets for arms and hardly allow their opponents to run the bases. Tennessee is one of the most well-rounded teams in the field and could very well finish on top of the tournament.

The other major competitors in the field include #4 Vanderbilt and #5 Arizona, who will be squaring off against #13 East Carolina and #12 Ole Miss, respectively. Vanderbilt is similar to Tennessee in the sense that they are well balanced across all aspects of the game, whereas Arizona was able to record more hits than any other team in America this season. They too will be capable of reaching the final game if they play their cards right.

UVA’s upcoming opponent will be Dallas Baptist University, another unranked team. The Patriots recorded the third-most home runs in college baseball with 97 in 56 games and were among the nation’s elite in strikeouts and shutouts. These numbers show that DBU is capable of playing from in front or behind, as they are good at the plate and on the mound.

The most recent winner of the CWS was the 2019 Vanderbilt squad that took down Michigan 8-2. Just one year prior, 2021 favorites Arkansas were shut out 5-0 by Oregon State for the national title.

All Super Regional games will be held from June 11-14 in separate locations, while the CWS could run from June 19-30. 

The stage is set, the teams are ready, and the world is watching. With all of the season’s excitement culminating in a final chapter, only two words are left to say: play ball.

Stay with Baseball Spotlight for more MLB and NCAA news and previews!

Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.

 

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