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Top 25 Chat: March 18

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SEE ALSO: Top 25 Rankings | Latest RPI | Texas A&M’s Roa Seizes Opportunity


DaddyMc: Do you think A&M has really done much to solve their batting issues, or did they just get hot for 11 innings? I was there and the series felt like the tale of The Best Of Times & The Worst Of Times. And with a great ending, for Aggies.
Kendall Rogers: Daddy — We will see this coming weekend and UK and beyond. I did think the Aggies showed a much much better offensive approach in the series finale. They were patient and made contact, and Braden Shewmake made hard contact. Frankly, with as good as A&M’s pitching is, if this team can just hit in the .270-.280 range in conference, they should be really, really good. A&M’s defense was a strong piece over the weekend as well. I was thoroughly impressed with Hunter Coleman over at first on Sunday, while second baseman Bryce Blaum looks smooth up the middle, too.


Jack: Why does tech keep dropping 8-10 spots when they go 1-2 in a week of road games against good teams but only go up 2 spots if they go 5-0?
Kendall Rogers: Jack — Tech now has two losing weekends, and I’ll be honest, I still think the Red Raiders will be a special club, but there are teams right now that deserve to be ahead of them – including Texas A&M, Arizona State, NC State, etc, therefore, Tech probably dropped a few more spots than it otherwise would’ve because of that. Tech’s offense has been a little up and down as of late, but I still think they’re going to be explosive as the season progresses. They are exactly where they should be in the rankings, but would I be surprised if they are way up there at the end of the year? Not at all. I still love this club.


Adam: Despite Miami’s 2 series losses to top 25 teams on the road, do you still see this team as a team that can make noise in a regional and possibly make a super regional
Aaron Fitt: Absolutely, we still really like Miami’s club. The Hurricanes were on the brink of breaking into the Top 25 last week, and certainly they’d be ranked this week if they had won another game in Chapel Hill. We remain encouraged by the development of those talented sophomore position players, and the Canes have plenty of weapons on the mound. Lots to like about that club, definitely feels like a team that could be dangerous in June.


ATXDude: Texas took 2/3 from TTU this weekend and now they’re 6-4 against really quality teams (LSU, Stanford, TTU) in March. With Arkansas and TCU to finish out the gauntlet, if they go 3-2 on the week and finish 9-6 in those 15 games they have to set themselves up for one of the top spots in the RPI at the end of the year right? Not sure there’s going to be a better SOS out there.
Kendall Rogers: ATX — If Texas goes 3-2 this week, I’d consider that a terrific week. I’m curious to see how bad the injury to Ty Madden was on Sunday. Obviously, he has thrown really really well as of late. But Phil Haig continues to do special things with this pitching staff, and to hold Texas Tech to a limited # of runs over the weekend is impressive. I don’t think Texas will be a great offensive team this spring, but it’s good enough to manufacture runs to complement the pitching staff. That staff continues to do a great job, as Texas is setup really well right now resume-wise.


Hottub: Georgia is having an amazing start to the season. Part of the success is driven by the emergence of Tony Locey as a top SEC starting pitcher. Now that he’s harnessing his big stuff, how far can he rise up draft boards?
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, Locey was lights-out on Sunday against South Carolina, and has been really good all season so far. He’s always had big stuff, as you know — it’s 93-96 with a very good hard slider — but his walk rate is way down so far this year. He’s got 43 strikeoust and 13 walks in 29 innings, along with a 2.17 ERA. The performance is finally matching the talent, and if that continues, I could see him being a Day One pick.


Sid: Based on the preseason poll compared to the body of work/eye test to this point, who are some teams that have changed your outlook on them? For better and for worse?
Kendall Rogers: I’ll let Aaron chime in on this one, too, but I think NC State is the most obvious team for me, along with Arizona State on the positive side of things. NC State has been terrific and ASU is showing an outstanding offense (Which we expected) with some definite improved pitching. In terms of the negative, Wake Forest and Fullerton belong on the list. I still think Wake could heat up. The pieces are there (Aaron will see them this weekend), but Fullerton losing 2/3 at home to JMU is pretty bad, no matter how much better the Dukes are. Fullerton is in trouble IMO.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah I’m still not worried about Wake Forest, that’s a team that I expect to make a big second-half run. Still love the personnel in the lineup and on the mound. Kendall is right about NC State and ASU as the big risers in my book. Also Mississippi State is a team we liked going into the season, but a team that I love now, after watching them two weeks in a row. Definitely a leading contender to win it all, I think.


Pat S: Why is UCLA more deserving of #1 than Miss State?
Aaron Fitt: I think you can make a case for either one. They both have one marquee series win (vs. Oregon State for UCLA, at Florida for MSU). UCLA has a very nice road series win at Georgia Tech, and MSU has a decent series win at home against Southern Miss. MSU’s 2-0 weekend in Frisco is louder than UCLA’s third-best week (a sweep of a quality St. John’s club — but that’s also a good weekend). Maybe you’d have to give MSU a very slight edge based solely on resumé, but UCLA was No. 2 last week and just won a series from the No. 3 team, so I just think you can’t justify jumping somebody else over them. Talent-wise, I think they’re pretty comparable, but I still like UCLA’s offensive personnel a little more in the long run, but I’d give MSU a slight edge on the mound. It’s very close.


Andrew: From what you’ve seen so far, what is the realistic ceiling for Texas A&M? Offense seems to slowly get better and the pitching has looked great so far.
Kendall Rogers: Andrew — I touched on the Aggies a bit ago, but I think the Aggies will go as far as the pitching and defense will take it. I’m still not convinced A&M will be an above-average offensive club, but they could surprise me. Therefore, it’s all about the pitching and defense. That rotation looks really good now with Christian Roa stepping up, and the bullpen was already a strength.


Mad Monte: Is there another team in the country that has had a weirder start to the season than Clemson? Lose the series to South Carolina, sweep UNC, beat Coastal midweek, then lose the series to the Fighting Irish at home? What gives?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, good luck figuring out Clemson — I certainly can’t. I suppose some of it is just natural ups and downs for a team relying on quite a few underclassmen in the lineup, and it seems like the bullpen is still a work in progress — it wasn’t very good this weekend. I think it will be better moving forward, still some quality depth there.


Hottub: UCLA’s Ryan Garcia had his longest outing of the season this weekend, how did the stuff look and will he be slotted back into the Friday night role eventually?
Kendall Rogers: HOT — I will check on Garcia’s stuff, but that’s a nice development for the Bruins. Right now, I still think Savage will keep Zach Pettway in the No. 1 role. He was outstanding over the weekend, and frankly, he’s earned it with the way he’s pitching. But Garcia getting back on track (and healthy) is big for the Bruins. I was impressed with UCLA’s offense in the series finale. UCLA showed it can win a big series in a variety of ways.


Founders: Brutal weekend for my Gamecocks, but kudos to UGA. Everyone keeps talking about their offense (rightfully so), but almost every pitcher they brought in threw 95+. Thoughts on both squads moving forward?
Aaron Fitt: I wrote about Georgia in depth after watching Saturday’s win — I think that’s a really good, balanced, deep and experienced team, an Omaha-caliber club. South Carolina still feels like that borderline Top 25 club we’ve regarded it as all season long, going back to the preseason — I think they’ll be in and out of the rankings, and probably wind up as a 2-seed somewhere. I actually saw a lot of talented young arms out of that SC bullpen on Saturday, between Daniel Lloyd, Dylan Harley and Cam Tringali. The strength of the pitching staff is in its numbers, and they’re going to continue to mix and match on the mound all year, which is what they expected to do in the fall, because they just don’t have the big weekend starter horses. Reid Morgan is tough, that sidearm guy with a very good sinker, changeup and a decent slider — just tip your cap to Georgia for beating him. He and TJ Shook should be able to give SC 5 solid innings most weekends, and the bullpen is good enough to piece it together after that.
Aaron Fitt: The offense needs Noah Campbell to get it going, I’ve been disappointed with his first five weeks, because he was my big breakout star pick heading into the year. I think Luke Berryhill and Andrew Eyster are the real deal, and obviously Hopkins and Olson are established commodities, so the foundation of the lineup remains strong, but the supporting cast needs to be more consistent.


Mack: Indiana State is off to a great start this season and have a hec of a pitching staff. When will they break into the national polls and do you think they can beat DBU and win the MVC?
Kendall Rogers: Mack — You’ll be happy to know that Indiana State was discussed for this week’s Top 25, along with UC Santa Barbara, Oklahoma State and a few others. I wrote about ISU last week and I really like this club. Triston Polley and Collin Liberatore make up a strong 1-2 punch, and I think the offense, though not great, is more than solid enough to do some special things this season. Hard to tell if this point if ISU can overtake DBU, but I have no reason to think they can’t. Mitch Hannahs is doing a great job with that club so far this season. ISU also has a very good RPI.


Alex (Atascocita, TX): Unlike other ECU fans, I am not complaining about them dropping 3 spots. Why? It was done makes sense and I agree. My question is…can ECU be the team the writers and fans thought they could be in the preseason? Their hitting, especially with men on base, is poor to say the least and their pen, up until trip to Mississippi, had been shakey at best. But starting pitchers, Jake Agnos and Jake Kuchmannier, really have been finding a good rythem, especially Jake K. (one out from no hitter at Ole Miss and 11 days later a perfect game at Maryland). Can ECU survive their gambit coming up against UCF (home), Houston (away) and UCLA (away)?
Aaron Fitt: I remain high on the Pirates — it’s important to remember that they didn’t have Packard, Brickhouse and Burleson all healthy and in the lineup at the same time together for a good chunk of the first month, so I think the offense will really take off now that they’re all back together. Timely hitting has a way of showing up eventually if the lineup is talented enough, and this is still a very talented lineup — that stuff evens itself out. I was intrigued to see Burleson move into the bullpen this weekend, that might be exactly the answer they need back there. And the emergence of Kuchmaner along with Agnos and Tyler Smith should give them a very stable rotation going forward. Still think the Pirates have a legit shot at Omaha. But you’re right, this upcoming stretch is very big.


Jeff: With Oregon State still looking to get solid production out of the Sunday starter, what are the chances that Eisert or Chamberlain crack the rotation this week?
Kendall Rogers: Jeff — Kevin Abel should be able to return to the weekend rotation this weekend or next week, and once that happens the rotation will be back to normal. Frankly, I don’t think you’ll see OSU move either Eisert or Chamberlain to the rotation. I think Nate Yeskie loves Eisert’s ability to give them 3-4-5 if need be out of the bullpen, while Chamberlain is so good in his role. Both likely will stay in the bullpen, though, if I had to pick one that could move out, it’s Eisert. He’s more suited to be a starter at this point. He also was tremendous over the weekend in the Beavs’ lone win.


Henry: Very impressed withe the Bruins so far. You could make the argument they should be undefeated, with all fo their losses by 2 or less runs, 3 of them by 1 in the late innings. How will Garcia returning from injury fit into the current rotation with both Pettway and suprising brirght spot turned possible prospect Ralston pitching extremely well? Especially with Bergin struggling and Nastrini out for the season.
Aaron Fitt: You make a good point — UCLA is ranked No. 1 and it feels like we still haven’t really seen its best baseball yet. It’s only a matter of time before Strumpf and Toglia heat up, which is what this team really needs to reach its full potential. The pitching has been better than I even expected it would be, and Ralston’s emergence is clearly a big piece of that. I have to imagine Garcia must wind up back in the rotation, and I think the likeliest guy to move out of a weekend starter spot is Bergin. But Bergin is still very talented and will be a key part of this staff in the second half.


Lionel: It was a great weekend to be an Auburn Tiger all around! The SEC is a juggernaut this year! Especially the West.  Could a 15-15 conference record get Auburn (or any SEC team) a hosting spot for Regionals?
Kendall Rogers: Lionel — Considering the committee is thinking about making it where you can’t even get into the NCAA tournament with a record below .500 in conference play, I find it hard to believe they’d give out hosts to teams are .500 in league play, but I suppose never say never. Also, I think Auburn will do better than .500 in league. Davis Daniel is supposed to return to the mound today, and Tanner Burns and Jack Owen have been very, very good. This team also has plenty of dangerous bats.


Jon: What do you think about Auburn and their upcoming series with Mississippi State in Starkville? Do you plan on being there?
Aaron Fitt: To piggyback on Kendall’s Auburn answer — I’m planning to see Auburn in a couple weeks against Arkansas, so I don’t think we’ll have anyone in Starkville this weekend, but you’re right, that’s shaping up as a very intriguing series. We talked about this on the podcast today: Auburn’s pitching beyond Burns has been a lot better than we anticipated. Will be interested to see if they can sustain that, and this weekend will be a huge test against a very good offense.


Eric Simmons : Time to be concerned with Vanderbilt after losing to Texas A&M to open up SEC Play? I think Texas A&M is underrated!
Kendall Rogers: Simmons — I’m not sure I’m concerned just yet, but I am a little confused at some of Vandy’s struggles. Defensively, the Commodores looked very iffy over the weekend, as Ethan Paul scuffled at short and Pat DeMarco took some terrible routes in center. But the most perplexing thing are the struggles on the mound. Vandy is walking entirely too many guys, and that’s disappointing considering the talent Vandy has on the bump. I was actually encouraged by Kumar Rocker’s start yesterday. I thought his SL was sharper, and he was throwing more strikes with the FB as well (velocity wasn’t at high as it was at Salt River a few weeks ago).


Jay B: I was somewhat surprised at how much the SEC West dominated the East this past weekend, is that a sign of things to come in the SEC this year?
Aaron Fitt: I don’t know about that. Kentucky and Mizzou are clearly bottom-end teams in the SEC this year, so it’s no real surprise that they struggled against top-end SEC West teams. Tennessee getting swept surprised me a bit, I picked Auburn to win that series but figured the Vols had a very legitimate chance to get a game or two. I still think Tennessee is a contender, and so is South Carolina, despite its 0-3 weekend. Georgia, Vandy and Florida are just about as good at the top end as Miss State, LSU and Arkansas, but I’d give the next tier of SEC West teams (Auburn, Ole Miss and A&M) the edge over the next three in the East. So in sum, I do think the West is better overall, but I don’t think it will usually be as lopsided as it was this week.


Confused Hog Fan: Hopefully this will get sorted out down in Austin this week, but how do you justify keeping a 7-loss Longhorns team ahead of 2-loss SEC teams like Auburn and Arkansas. At what point does “you are what your record says you are” outweigh the eye test?
Aaron Fitt: Strength of schedule, sir. Texas has played a much, much, much harder schedule than Auburn and Arkansas — and the Horns have two legitimate premium series wins, the sweep over LSU and two of three from Texas Tech. That blows away anything Arkansas or Auburn has done. It’s not about the eye test in this case, it’s all about the substance of the resumé.
Aaron Fitt: And at this point, if the committee was putting together its field of 64, I’d have to think Texas would be seeded higher than Auburn and Arkansas, because those high-end wins carry a lot of weight.


Tom: Who do you think will win the WCC? LMU and USD look like the 2 best teams right now!
Kendall Rogers: Tom — Based on Aaron’s reports from the Seattle Baseball Showcase, my money would be on San Diego to win that league, but heck, don’t sleep on Gonzaga, who took A&M to the wire and took two of three from Southern Miss over in Hattiesburg. I also liked Pepperdine’s bats when I saw it against Stanford earlier this season, and the Waves broke out in the final two games against the Toreros. St. Mary’s is another club I could easily see winning the league. That league seems to be wide open.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah… I actually like USD and Saint Mary’s the best in that league, but as always it’s going to be a battle royale, because there are things to like about USF, LMU, Gonzaga, BYU and Pepperdine too. It really is wide open.


Carson: Any concerns about the Miami starting rotation after this weekend? McMahon looked off and Van Belle got rocked. I know McMahon will bounce back, but feel BVB is limited. Think Cecconi moving to the Sunday role is best for this team moving forward?
Aaron Fitt: I’m not concerned about the rotation — chalk it up to a bad game for McMahon, he’s too talented to struggle for long. But I definitely agree about Cecconi, I’d love to see him move into the weekend rotation. What a talent that guy is.


Sam: Did La Tech lose their chances at an at large bid after week one of conference play barring some ridiculous win streak from here out? It just seems that Arkansas and USM were the only hope of a good RPI opportunity.
Kendall Rogers: Sam — It’s probably too early to start speculating on that, but just reading the tea leaves — La. Tech has an RPI of 60 right now and lost two of its non-conference series, and just got swept (at home) by Southern Miss. Based on historical precedent, I find it hard to believe La Tech would be an at-large team at the end of the season unless it does some incredible things the rest of the way in Conference USA. I still think this club is dangerous, though.


Casey: Your thoughts on USM this past weekend? Do you think the offense we saw this weekend is the one we can expect to see from here on out? Obviously we can’t expect 40 hits and 27 runs every weekend but can we at least be encouraged that the horrid offense from earlier this season is gone?
Aaron Fitt: Definitely encouraging — this was a lot more like what we expected to see from Southern Miss heading into the season. The offense I saw in Starkville in Week Two was really unimpressive, but I figured Scott Berry would get those guys going at some point, and now we’re seeing it. Obviously the personnel there is plenty capable, led by Wallner and Hunter Slater and Matthew Guidry and Brant Blaylock. That’s a nice core to build around. Now let’s see if the pitching can really make strides, because they still have some things to figure out on the mound.


TC: Who are some of your favorite freshmen (or newcomers) across the nation?
Kendall Rogers: TC, I will keep this short, but I really like Adrian Del Castillo of Miami and Kendrick Calilao as my hitters. Del Castillo has huge power for a youngster and Calilao is a complete player. He can go opposite field with big-time juice and has such a mature approach. On the mound, I’ve been really impressed with JT Ginn. It’s not easy sometimes to have the success he’s had already with a huge target on your back and with high acclaim, but he’s met expectations in a big, big way.
Aaron Fitt: I’ll throw Cole Wilcox into the mix — he was sitting 98-99 out of the Georgia pen on Saturday, touched 100, and has a big-time power slider too. You watch, he’s going to take off in the second half and become a huge difference maker.


John: LSU still struggled to score in Game one this weekend, but other than that, they looked much better. Hess (still too many walks), Walker, Hilliard, and the pen threw well combined with 23 runs in the last two games of the series. Is this a sign that LSU has turned the corner or do you think that this was just a symptom of playing and overmatched Kentucky team? How do you see their matchup this weekend with UGA going?
Aaron Fitt: I think they have turned the corner. Hilliard should only get stronger as the year goes on, which I think will be big for LSU, because we all saw what he’s capable of last year. I think there are plenty of very nice pieces on the mound there, and it was good to see Hess turn in seven strong innings, but you’re right about the walks, he’s gotta rein in his control. Certainly we’ve never lost faith in the LSU offense, there’s too much talent there — I expect a huge second half for that unit.


Mike: Where’s Penn State?
Kendall Rogers: Mike — We are really impressed by Penn State’s start, which is why Aaron wrote about them last week in our Under The Radar feature. However, the schedule just doesn’t warrant a ranking at this point. PSU has that nice series win over UCF, but otherwise it’s a bad non-conference slate, which includes a series win over UMass-Lowell this past weekend. No doubt this team is significantly better, though. We’ll see how they do this weekend as they open up league play against Minnesota.


BullDawg: Mississippi State ranks in the top in almost every major pitching statistic. After seeing how they performed against Florida on the road, just how real is this staff and how do they stack up against the rest of the nation?
Aaron Fitt: Oh, it’s real, and it’s spectacular. I’ve said repeatedly now, I think Small and Ginn might be as good a one-two punch as you’ll find anywhere, and Keegan James certainly has big stuff in the No. 3 spot, but he needs to be more consistent. I just love the bullpen though — the depth of that group is incredible, I think. Gordon is as reliable a closer as you’ll find, Colby White has huge stuff, Liebelt is a very good bridge guy who presents a different look from a lower slot, Self and Price are battle-tested veterans, and Barlow and Eagan have good stuff from the left side. Love that staff. Might well be the nation’s best.


Tex: Dallas Baptist has a bunch of guys with mid to upper 90’s velo.  Also with quality wins over A&M and OU.  Are they close to the top 25?
Aaron Fitt: They’d be ranked this week if they hadn’t lost their weekend series — we finally had room to bring them in, and they went and lost two of three to Houston. But yes, DBU is a good club, I expect it will be in the Top 25 at some point this year.


Jacob: I’m a big Oregon State fan, however when watching them play they do not seem like a top ranked team (maybe im just spoiled from last year) The hitting from the team has been poor so far, yesterday was better but then the fielding played the worst i have seen from the beavers in a long time. Am i to down on them? How do you see the beavers finishing the year?
Kendall Rogers: Jacob — I’m definitely not pressing a panic button after losing a series to UCLA (on the road) with Kevin Abel out. I think Oregon State’s offense will be a little erratic. After all, the Beavers lost a TON from last year’s club from an offensive standpoint. McGarry and Rutschman have been great, but obviously guys like Tyler Malone have to step up. After the weekend, Malone is now hitting under .200. That has to change.


Kevin: Michael Bienlien’s start yesterday was unfortunately no different than all but maybe 1 or 2 of his other career starts. Can’t throw strikes, anything that is over the plate gets mashed. The 3rd starter seems to be the hole for the Pack (and it’s amazing they started 19-0 while figuring pretty much everything else out). Anyone stand out to fill that role? Thought it should’ve been Andrew Blake. He’s looked great out of the bullpen and can touch at least 94. Does Dalton Feeney ever make it to the rotation or does Avent keep using him and Kent Klyman as the 1-2 punch on the back end?
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, Bienlien was not good at all, just kept missing to the glove side with everything. Doesn’t feel like he’s the answer as the Sunday guy. I asked the coaches that same question yesterday — how do you see the Sunday starter shaping up going forward? They all pretty much threw their hands in the air, they really are trying to figure it out themselves. Blake is a neat option — you’re right, his stuff is pretty good, and he’s physical enough that maybe he can maintain it. I feel like Feeney has been too good a fit in the pen, I suspect they’ll leave him there going forward, but you really never know. They clearly need somebody to give them better outings on Sundays.


Grant: OU now in your guys’ Top 25. Encouraging seeing this lineup coming together and Ruffcorn in the pen. What’s the general feeling of the Sooners going into Big 12 play? Is their ceiling hosting a regional or will they come back down to earth in B12 play and get in the tourney as a 2 or 3 seed?
Kendall Rogers: Grant — The Sooners struggled in the bullpen on Friday, but bounced back the rest of the weekend. The rotation looks really solid now with Cavalli getting back on track, Nathan Wiles and Levi Prater, who has been outstanding the last two weeks. Prater struck out 15 against Mo. State over the weekend. OU has some soldi pitching depth and the offense is good enough, IMO. Right now, this is a regional No. 2 seed type of club for more with potential to be a host with a strong showing in league play.


Ted : U Va has an excellent coaching staff and lots of talented players. But they’re off to a slow start. How do you see the rest of their season going?
Aaron Fitt: Feels like it’s gonna be a struggle, Ted. I just don’t think they’re good enough on the mound. The struggles of McGarry and Vasil have perplexed me, those guys do have real talent, and they just can’t figure it out. I really like Noah Murdock and expect he’s going to start stringing together quality starts in ACC play, but right now that staff has been a major disappointment. The offense is good enough to keep them in plenty of games, but right now I’d have a hard time revising my preseason opinion that Virginia was the 11th-best team in the ACC.


Carrigan Jackson: Emerson Hancock. Talk to me.
Aaron Fitt: Feels like he might be establishing himself as the early frontrunner to go No. 1 overall next year. Stuff has always been electric, but it’s gotten better and better, and he’s learned to command it. He sat 96-98 on Friday, and was still 96 on his 105th pitch, with a filthy 85-87 power slider and a quality changeup he could throw for strikes. Awesome body, great makeup, the whole package really.


Luke: What do you think of Ethan Small not being on the Gold Spikes watch list? Pretty convincing stats so far. #HailState
Aaron Fitt: He definitely will be on the next list — remember that the current list was put together in the preseason, and it was really really hard to narrow down, a lot of good players had to be cut. But Small has clearly established himself now as a frontrunner for the award; his strikeout-walk numbers are absurd.


BK: Can you think of a couple teams that are currently underperforming that are serious contenders? Conversely, are there a couple of trans who are playing a bit above their heads at the moment?
Kendall Rogers: BK — For me, the national title contender underperforming right now is Texas Tech. The Red Raiders didn’t do much offensively at the Frisco College Classic, and they scored just nine runs in three games against Texas over the weekend. I have zero doubt they are much, much better than that. In terms of playing over their heads a little, I might go with NC State. There’s nothing loud about its pitching staff, but the Pack are getting the job done.


Slighted Bulldog: MSU is 18-2.  UCLA is 14-4.  MSU is top 20 nationally in BA at .310.  UCLA is 120th nationally with a .268 BA.  MSU and UCLA have almost identical ERA’s (MSU is slightly better) but surely the MSU staff gets the edge with Small and Ginn up front.  MSU is top 10 in runs scored.  UCLA isn’t in the top half of the country.  MSU is 6-2 against ranked teams with 3 of those wins coming as true road games.  UCLA is 2-2 against ranked teams, with neither of those wins coming on the road.  MSU returned 89% of their lineup from the Omaha team last year.  I know it doesn’t really matter, but everyone wants to be #1.  By what metric do you have UCLA in front of MSU (aside from logo)?
Aaron Fitt: Asked and answered earlier, but you certainly lay out a strong case for Mississippi State, so I wanted to let people see it. Hey, MSU has moved up from preseason No. 14 to No. 2 in just five weeks, that’s not easy to do. We obviously love their team.


Rebel28: Hey guys, thoughts on Ole Miss’ drop to #18 after close games with Louisville and getting the series win over Alabama.  Are the rebels close to putting it together with Hoglund emerging as a weapon on Sunday?  Thanks
Aaron Fitt: A much harsher drop than they deserved, and the same goes for Texas Tech. For that matter, we had to drop ECU, UNC and Coastal after good weeks when all of them really should have climbed — but we simply had to make room for other hot teams that needed to jump, so those teams had to wear it a little bit in the rankings this week. Anyway, to answer your question, yes, I think the Rebels are about to make a run. I expect big things from Hoglund in SEC play, and I think there are enough pieces on the mound there for them to be just fine, despite some tough injuries. I still think the offense will prove to be elite by the end of the season.


Cowtown Bill: So did the weekend sweep help TCU get ready for their Texas series? I always wonder about how much it helps to sweep a team you should sweep. Texas has really good pitching, so not sure if the Frog bats will be able to adjust. Thoughts?
Kendall Rogers: Cowtown, I actually think TCU matches up OK with Texas. I think TCU is a more offensive club from top to bottom, and I like that one-two punch with Nick Lodolo and Brandon Williamson. I think I like TCU at home in this series, but at this point, it’s hard to doubt Texas. This is a big weekend for the Frogs.


Devin: How impressed have you been with Isaiah Cambell and the Razorback team in general.
Aaron Fitt: Really cool to see a guy with Campbell’s talent put it all together, and that’s what he’s doing. He’s clearly learned to harness his electric stuff — that 44-4 K-BB mark in 30 innings is very telling. I like that Arkansas club quite a bit, and looking forward to seeing how they do against stronger competition. That two-game midweek set at Texas should be fun this week, and the Ole Miss series is very intriguing in two weeks.


TK: What’re your thoughts on the Mountain West so far?
Aaron Fitt: Feels like a complete toss-up — I could see basically any team in that conference winning it, and it looks like it will be a one-bid league, because there’s nobody who has put together a strong enough showing in nonconference to put itself in at-large contention. San Jose State is the big surprise for me, that was a loud sweep of UNLV this weekend. At 12-7, the Spartans have the best overall mark in the league. Didn’t see that coming.

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