Lubbock Regional Preview: Texas Tech Faces Tricky ObstaclesPostseason
Checking The Field
The last four years have seen Texas Tech move from a solid program to one of the top programs in the nation, and serving as a regional host for the fourth straight season is part of that. This will be the first time Florida and Texas Tech might meet somewhere other than Omaha, but Dallas Baptist looms as the bigger threat. And Army has the talent and postseason experience to play spoiler.
1. Texas Tech: Regional Breakdown | Regular Season Results | Team Stats and Leaders
2. Dallas Baptist: Regional Breakdown | Regular Season Results | Team Stats and Leaders
3. Florida: Regional Breakdown | Regular Season Results | Team Stats and Leaders
4. Army: Regional Breakdown | Regular Season Results | Team Stats and Leaders
Lubbock Regional Superlatives
Most Exciting Player: Brady McConnell, SS, Florida
McConnell, a draft-eligible sophomore, is projected to go in the first two rounds of the major league draft next week. The only prospect ranked higher in this regional is another shortstop, potential first-round pick Josh Jung of Texas Tech. McConnell, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, played just nine games last year due to a wrist injury. This season he has lived up to his hype as a five-tool player, leading the Gators in batting (.341), OPS (.986), homers (15) and RBIs (47). He has plus-plus speed, plus arm strength and plus raw power. Now is the time for him to have a memorable regional.
Best Hitter: Cameron Warren, 1B, Texas Tech
Warren was drafted in the 39th round out of high school and bypassed altogether last year. But all this 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior does is rake. His .361 average, 14 home runs, 67 RBIs and 1.109 OPS all lead the Red Raiders and eclipsed the numbers of teammate Josh Jung, the Co-Big 12 Player of the Year. This is Warren’s second season as a Division I starter, and he did much the same thing last year, when he led Texas Tech hitters with a .364 average against ranked opponents. He also led the team with a .354 average on the road. Those are pressure situations, and that’s when Warren shines.
Best Defensive Player: Josh Jung, SS, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders had struggled at shortstop, using five different starters, before sliding their top pro prospect from the hot corner to short. Jung, who will likely go back to third base in the pros, has made just five errors all season and only one since moving to shortstop on April 14.
Best Pitcher: M.D. Johnson, Dallas Baptist
Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound senior, has already made a startling 56 Division I starts, and he has finally taken off this year. He is 9-2, 2.46, and batters are hitting just .199 against him. His father, Jeff, pitched for Dallas Baptist from 1986-1990. M.D. is not a big name or the hardest thrower, but he’s an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters. He works angles, and he’s all arms and legs.
X-Factor: Jacob Hurtubise, Army
As the fourth seed, Army is not supposed to stick around long. And it’s possible Hurtubise’s numbers are a by-product of weaker competition in the Patriot League. But the leadoff hitter’s numbers are phenomenal: a .550 on-base percentage that ranks second in the nation and 87 steals over the past two years. He was also the Patriot League defensive player of the year as a center fielder, making him an all-around threat.
Best Starting Rotation: Florida
This is a vote for potential over (consistent) production: Sophomore Tommy Mace (8-4, 4.99), sophomore Jack Leftwich (5-5, 5.82) and freshman Nick Pogue (1-0, 2.90) form a trio of talented but young righthanders. They took some lumps in the rugged SEC, but in the last regular-season series of the year at Missouri, Mace earned the Friday night win, Leftwich followed with a two-hit shutout that included nine strikeouts against two walks, and Pogue pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Gators earned a road sweep.
Best Bullpen: Texas Tech
This is the strength of the Red Raiders, who have a deep well of arms. Freshman Clayton Beeter (2.79 ERA) leads the team with eight saves, with a .164 opponent average. Lefty Dane Haverman (2.08 ERA) leads the team with 28 appearances. Sidewinder Taylor Floyd (3.13 ERA) has made 25 appearances and has three saves.
Best Offensive Team: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders do not hit a ton of homers, but they have the highest scoring average (7.7) and batting average (.301) of any team in this regional. They have the most doubles (122) and triples (20), too.
Best Defensive Team: Texas Tech
With a .977 team fielding percentage, the Red Raiders have been solid with the leather all year.
No. 1 Seed Win Probability (1-10): 6
Texas Tech is clearly the favorite, but Dallas Baptist has been a tough out for the past decade, Army will not be intimidated, and the underachieving Gators have the firepower to earn a trip to the super regionals if they play up to their ability. The Red Raiders should advance, but they will have to earn their ticket in a tricky bracket.
Lubbock Regional Team Breakdowns
Texas Tech (39-17, 16-8 Big 12)
The Red Raiders have emerged as a superpower over the last half-decade, with three College World Series appearances, all since 2014.
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