Off The Top Of My Head: February 20thColumns
Hello again, StitchHeads. Welcome to my second edition of the OTTOMH blatherfest. For those of you who have been here before, you know the drill. If you’re new to this, well welcome to my forum where I follow no form, have no set features and just empty whatever is on my pea brain onto my keyboard and it comes up roses here each week. And yes, it’s *mostly* college baseball related.
Let’s take a quick whirl around and see what we got for this week. First, let’s get to some notes on the weekend ahead…
FIVE THINGS I’M KEEPING AN EYE ON THIS WEEKEND.
– Florida at Miami.
This is a 1-vs-2 showdown between two teams with a lot to prove. The Hurricanes have one of the most experienced teams in the country, with eight of nine starters back in the batting order and the rotation of Brian Van Valle, Chris McMahon and Slade Cecconi returning after combining for 42 starts last season. In his second year at the controls Gino DiMare certainly has this program “back” after a few lean years. But are they truly No. 1-worthy? For the Gators, all eyes will be on righties Jack Leftwich and Tommy Mace, who are coming off of seasons where they both had ERAs over 5.00. Both had decent starts last weekend, albeit it came against Marshall. And that sophomore class will get a big test here, hoping to avoid the “sophomore slump” that strikes so many college players. D1’s own Walter Villa will be covering this matchup in Coral Gables, which is not far from his palatial South Beach estate.
– Some mid-majors take major steps up
You might’ve noticed that Cal State Fullerton became just the second non-Power Five conference team to join the rankings this week, along with East Carolina. There are not a ton of great matchups this weekend but I am particularly interested to see how Dallas Baptist fares in three games at No. 22 North Carolina (don’t pitch to Aaron Sabato), how Gonzaga does playing at No. 7 Arkansas (don’t pitch to…hell, ANYBODY) and to see if UConn can pull the trick and beat No. 9 Michigan again for the second week in a row (this time they’ll play three, down in Florida).
– The rare Pac 12 vs. SEC showdown.
It’s not often that the two monster conferences get matched up outside of Omaha or the occasional Regional/Super Regional, but here we go with a pair of blue blood programs facing off this weekend as Oregon State travels to Mississippi State for a three game set. The Beavers looked a little choppy in going 2-2 at the Sanderson Ford Classic in Surprise last weekend and of course the Bulldogs breezed by Wright State. It will be interesting to see how Christian Chamberlain and Jake Mulholland fare in their second-ever career weekend starts. Chamberlain relented just one hit in 6.0 innings vs. New Mexico but Mulholland was roughed up by Gonzaga, giving up eight hits, seven runs in 3.2 innings. Aaron Fitt will be back in the Magnolia State again for this showdown so be sure to read his stuff from Starkville.
Check out the full column below!