The Stillwater Regional will be played at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City this weekend. The UConn Huskies, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Harvard Crimson will be joining the Cowboys in the regional. Here is a little preview of each team and what the Cowboys could expect from the competition.
No. 2 seed UConn Huskies
Record: 36-23 (12-12)
Place in conference: T-4 in the American Athletic Conference
UConn had a bit of an up and down season, but had a solid end of the season winning six of eight and finishing second in their conference tournament. Arguably their best wins of the season were in their first series of the season against No. 4 Louisville, in which they won two of three. In other contests against ranked opponents this season, they went 1-4, so not a large sample against ranked competition.
As a team, they don’t hit for a lot of power (it’s hard to during the cold months in the northeast), but they do hit the ball consistently as a team. They have a team average of .267. In an era for the three true outcomes of baseball (walk, strikeout, home run), UConn still plays it old school and focuses on good bat-to-ball skills. Here are some players to watch on the Huskies:
Playing in all but one game this season, Woodworth is arguably the best hitter on the Huskies this season. He’s slashed .319/.414/.438/.852, with 5 home runs and 36 RBI. He also leads the team in hits, runs scored, and tied for the team lead in stolen bases. He will be the bat to watch out for in the UConn lineup.
This guy is probably the best pitcher for UConn, and he comes out of the back end of the bullpen. He’s been nails at the end of a game, saving 15 games with a microscopic 0.73 ERA. He’s also struck out 56 batters in 37 innings!! He’s a two pitch guy, fastball and slider. His fastball is lively, sitting 94-96, and his slider sits in the mid-80’s with a slurvy break. If the Cowboys are down at the end of a game against UConn, it’ll be tough sledding against Wallace.
No. 3 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers
Record: 31-22 (15-9)
Place in conference: 4th in the Big Ten
An up and down season with a lot of games canceled, but the Huskers got hot at the right time to end their season. Like UConn, they finished as the runner up their conference tournament. Big Ten baseball is tough because the weather is so brutal for most of the season in some ballparks. It’s also tough, especially once the postseason rolls around because Big Ten baseball doesn’t provide a lot of good competition (Illinois is the only ranked team at No. 25).
That said, Nebraska found ways to win ballgames, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. They did not hit extremely well as a team, but the top guys can sometimes carry the lineup. The Huskers hit .256 as a team, with only one players hitting over the .300 clip. They also did not hit for a ton of power, much like UConn. They did get some really solid pitching, which can carry a team sometimes in the postseason. Here are a couple guys to watch on the Huskers:
Starting in all 53 games this season for Nebraska, he was the best hitter for the team this season. He’s slashed an impressive .324/.426/.481/.907 with a team high 6 homers and second on the team with 31 RBI. He has a lot of moving parts in his swing but he has quick hands that make up for hit, and drives his barrel through the zone with ease. If the Cowboys focus on one hitter in the Husker lineup, Palensky is that guy.
Starting in 13 of his 15 appearances this season, the senior pitcher has been a solid performer all year. He’s pitched to the tune of a 3.11 ERA and in 92 innings with a stellar 82/7 K/BB. He works a sinker that sits in the low 90’s, a decent breaking ball, and a changeup with really good bite downwards.
No. 4 Harvard Crimson
Record: 27-14 (14-7)
Place in conference: 1st place in Ivy League
It’s been a solid season for the smart people from Boston. The Crimson won the Ivy League putting together a consistent, winning product on the field. This team knows how to hit, with a team average of .285, with 5 guys will north of .300. The pitching was a little inconsistent, but you can get carried by your offense in the postseason more often than relying on the guys on the mound. Without further ado, here are some guys to watch from Harvard:
To just put it lightly, this guy RAKES. He’s slashing an absurd .399/.462/.734/1.196!!! I probably could just stop there, but I’m fascinated with this guy now. He also leads the Crimson in home runs, hits, double, triples, and runs scored. The Cowboys cannot let this guy beat them individually, because he looks like he sure as hell can.
No one really jumped off the page for me from the Harvard pitching staff, but Stefanoni looked to be a solid guy in the bullpen. He has a 2.95 ERA and 34 strikeouts to 12 walks in 42.2 innings this season. I unfortunately could not find velocities or pitch mix with I looked him up, so that makes me even more interested to see him when he goes on the mound to see what makes him successful.