For the 17th time in program history the Stanford Cardinal were picked to host a regional. This 17th time is coming off of a record season that saw them go 44-10 and pick up their first-ever Pac-12 conference championship.
Stanford is the number two national seed, behind none other than the reigning champions, the Florida Gators. In the Stanford Regional, the Cardinal will be joined by the two seed Baylor, the three seed Cal State Fullerton and the four seed Wright State.
Who is the favorite? Who is the sleeper? Who are some players to watch for? What is going to happen?
Those are all questions you may be asking so let’s get to it.
THE FAVORITES: #1 Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal are coming off a record breaking season that saw them win the Pac-12 conference championship for the first time in program history. They are projected to do a lot more than just win a conference, a regional or a super regional.
A lot of media has them heading to Omaha for the first time since 2008, and some analysts have them winning their first NCAA title since 1988. This is rightfully so, as they are coming off of a 44-10 season that saw their pitching absolutely dominate opposing teams.
The Cardinal pitching staff finished with a 2.85 ERA which had them ranked first in the Pac-12 and ranked second in the nation behind Stetson.
Their offense was middle of the pack this year, but, they put up the amount of runs they did through timely hitting. As a team they batted .285, with four players hitting over .300, but they still managed to put up 6.68 runs per game.
If anyone didn’t have this team as the favorite to win the regional I would have to question them.
THE SLEEPER: #4 Wright State Raiders
The team that many people are overlooking is the Wright State Raiders. You will hear, “they are a four seed out of the Horizon League, they are nothing to worry about.”
Are they really nothing to worry about?
They are actually the exact opposite of nothing to worry about, they should be a lot to worry about. This Raiders team is on a eight game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents 88-24 and their last loss dates back to May 8th when they lost to the ACC runner-up, the Louisville Cardinals 8-4. They had a 4-0 lead at one point in the game.
Aside from the winning streak, as you can tell by the 88 runs they scored in eight games, this team can absolutely rake. They put up about eight runs a game and have five players batting over .309.
Their pitching is also pretty solid, as a team they have an ERA of 3.77, which is all you need with an offense as powerful as theirs. The Raiders three conference starters are Daniel Kruezer, Ryan Weiss and Zane Collins, and they have ERAs of 3.24, 3.40 and 4.18, respectively. With their powerful offense, they always put their team in a position to win and it shows, as they are 19-4 combined on the season.
This is the sleeper team to watch out for, and if they can come in and hit some of the nations best pitching on night one, they will take away Stanford’s dreams of heading to Omaha.
THE OTHER TWO: Baylor and Cal State Fullerton
Baylor and CSU Fullerton are both teams that people could see upsetting Stanford, but, they don’t see it as likely.
CSU Fullerton is a regular when it comes to the NCAA tournament, as this appearance marks their 40th straight NCAA tournament appearance. They have made it to Omaha 18 of these 40 times and have come away with four titles, the last one dating back to 2004.
Baylor used to be a regular in the NCAA tournament. In the span of 1998-2012 they made a regional in all but one year. After that, they didn’t make a regional until last year, but this now marks their second straight regional.
They don’t have quite as much history as Fullerton, as they have never won a College World Series and only made it to Omaha three times, but this is still a team that is being looked at as a possibility to pull off an upset in Stanford.
History doesn’t always matter though, this year is what matters. Both Fullerton and Baylor won their conference titles as well, Fullerton won the Big West and Baylor the Big 12.
Fullerton finished the year 32-23 behind average hitting that saw them finish with a .285 team batting average on the year, and average run production as they only scored about 4.6 runs per game. On the season, their pitching has also been average as they finished with a 3.52 team ERA. They have just found ways to win.
Baylor is scorching hot right now as they have won 22 of their past 25 ball games. They didn’t start off the year quite as hot, at 14-16, but ending it in the fashion they did has brought their overall record to 36-19.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR IN THE REGIONAL:
- Kris Bubic, Stanford, LHP
- 8-1, 2.73 ERA, 91 K’s
- Andrew Daschbach, Stanford, INF/OF
- .286 AVG., .571 SLG., 16 HR, 61 RBI
- Richard Cunningham, Baylor, OF
- .344 AVG., .552 SLG., 9 HR, 38 RBI
- Cody Bradford, Baylor, LHP
- 7-5, 2.38 ERA, 86 K’s
- Hank LaForte, Cal State Fullerton, INF
- .341 AVG., .431 SLG., 1 HR, 33 RBI
- Colton Eastman, Cal State Fullerton, RHP
- 9-3, 2.26 ERA, 108 K’s
- Gabe Snyder, Wright State, 1B
- .363 AVG., .674 SLG., 15 HR, 72 RBI
- Peyton Burdick, Wright State, OF
- .356 AVG., .583 SLG., 9 HR, 65 RBI
The Stanford Cardinal first game is what will wind up deciding this regional in my opinion. If Wright State’s powerful offense can give Stanford a run for their money and come away with the win, then they will win the tournament as the underdog, but, if Stanford can hold their ground, then they will move on to a super regional.
Stanford is going to hold their ground in a close first round game and go on to win and move on to their 11th super regional in program history and their first since 2014.
Who will they face to get there?
I have Baylor coming away with a first-round win over CSU Fullerton to help them move on to a semi-final match up with the Cardinal, but they are just too hot right now. In the semi-final game they will fall to Stanford. They will wind up playing an elimination game against Wright State who is going to cruise to a win over CSU Fullerton, that they will wind up losing.
I think Wright State will then go on to take the first game of two from Stanford, but, lose the second game to give Stanford the regional win.
The regional will open up as the number two seed Baylor plays the number three seed CSU Fullerton at 2:00 PM PT and then the number one seed Stanford will take on the number four seed Wright State at 7:00 PM PT.
Be sure to check in after every game, as we will have recaps of every game in the Stanford regional, as well as all other regionals across the board.