Austin Super Regional Preview
Coach: David Pierce
Postseason history: 10th super regional appearance (first since 2016). Seeking 36th trip to Omaha and first since 2014.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Austin Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Indiana 3-2 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Longhorns)
“Their offense is really athletic. You’re looking at guys like Duke Ellis, (David) Hamilton, (Kody) Clemens—they’ve got some guys that can put pressure on you in a ton of different ways. Clemens and (Zach) Zubia in the middle of that lineup are guys that you make one itty-bity, a one-centimeter mistake and the ball could leave the yard at any moment. I think for them it’s a consistency of their offense, being able to have some guys who can put pressure on you both stealing bases, putting the ball in play and then they have the power guys in the middle. Obviously, their frontline starters—(Nolan) Kingham, (Chase) Shugart and (Blair) Henley—are three of the best ones out there. I would say the way their offense clicks when its going is a strength and obviously their starting pitching is some of the best out there.
“From playing against (Clemens) the last couple years, he’s just made himself into such a good hitter. He’s so astute, so studious of the game that he knows how guys are going to pitch him. Now, sometimes that works to your favor and if you can get a step ahead of him you have a chance. He’s such a talented hitter. He’s done such a good job with understanding who he is and his approach and the game plan. He’s a guy that if you make one small mistake and he does not miss it. That’s the most impressive thing about him.
“First of all, the stuff is there (for the starting pitchers). When you watch them pitch those guys are ultra-competitors. When you match stuff with competitiveness, you’ve got to really bring your A-game every time you go out. You’re looking at fastballs that are getting into the mid-90s, you’re looking at really hard breaking balls. The guys compete. It’s really impressive from that stand point. You almost just have to out-compete them because it’s going to be hard to match the stuff. You’ve just got to try to run pitch counts up. If you can get their pitch counts up you’ve got a chance. Hopefully get into the ‘pen and get them out of the game. But it’s a catch 22. If do that and you’re already 0-2 in the hole and now you’re having to fight your way out of a big hole.
“I just think they’re a bunch of guys that enjoy playing with each other. They’re just a good team. With any team, you have a comeback and guys start believing in each other. They just kept on the course. They’ve got a good mixture. Even the new guys they brought in—there were a couple (junior college transfers) in there—you’ve got some experience in there. Hamilton’s experienced, Clemens is experienced, Reynolds is experienced. I think the biggest thing for them is they use that experience. They understand with their offense, they know they’re never out of the game because they’re a bunt away, they’re a two-strike hit away. It’s just a really hard offense to keep in check because they can beat you in so many different ways. They’ve got the leadership of Clemens and Hamilton in the middle. Those guys are pretty vocal and guys feed off their two guys’ energy.”
Coach: Matt Bragga
Postseason history: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason route: No. 2 seed in Oxford Regional. Went 4-1, defeating Mississippi 3-2 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Golden Eagles)
“The fact that they can beat you in so many ways. You see the power numbers, you think they’re just looking to hit the long ball. But they don’t strike out, they don’t swing and miss, they can single you to death when needed, they just control the barrel and know who they are 1-9 offensively. It’s not just brute, big, swing-for-the-fences guys. It’s guys who really understand their approach, really understand what they need to do and can just take back-side singles and score a bunch of runs that way when they need to.
“They hit at home, they hit on the road, they hit against the (Southeastern Conference), they hit against the (Ohio Valley Conference). It doesn’t matter. They hit against arms that are 92-95, they hit against arms who are 78-80. It comes down to their approach. Each of those guys just knows who they are as a hitter and they don’t stray from it. It makes them very tough 1-9 or 1-12, whichever guys they want to use.
“That’s the fun part for them right now. (Kevin Strohschein is) good, but you can’t pitch around him and he’s not the only guy that can hurt you. He probably gets lost in the shuffle a bit just because of how good they are. We saw it this weekend, (Trevor) Putzig hit a home run when they needed it. That’s just a guy that they have. You can’t take anyone for granted. If you’re too careful and you walk Strohschein then you’ve got (Chase) Chambers. You never know which guy is going to be the guy that hurts you. They’re so deep and talented. You can’t really lock in on (Strohschein) as a scary guy.
“It’s not just the good arms, it’s the good arms that throw strikes. They are in an offensive conference, but they combat it by not walking guys. They attack, and they play great defense behind them. They make every play. The pitchers force contact and they’ve got some guys with plus stuff and they pitch with confidence. It’s one of those things when you know your bats are going to score you some runs, you throw with confidence, you get strikes and you go right after guys because you know you’re always going to be in the game.
“I think definitely (there was a carryover from last year’s regional upset). They return the core of that team. They had tasted that success and I think they were all disappointed they didn’t have more success in the postseason. The way they carried themselves, they expected more. Coach Bragga, he’s enthusiastic. He’s probably the most enthusiastic coach we saw this year and the guys feed off of it. I think they were all a little setback last year by not going further. You can just see that fueled them this year.
“I think those guys just don’t know anything else besides baseball. To (Tennessee) Tech, it doesn’t matter where they play, they play baseball. When you have a senior-laden group, like they do, that has been in a regional, that has won a regional game, they don’t get too amped up for anything. They don’t make the moment bigger than it is. They were in that position last year. That’s where that consistency, that understanding that we’ve been here before, I didn’t think Ole Miss was going to walk away with it just because they were at home.”