Fayetteville Super Regional Preview
Coach: Dave Van Horn
Postseason history: Seventh super regional appearance (first since 2016). Seeking ninth trip to Omaha and first since 2015.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Fayetteville Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Southern Mississippi 4-3 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Razorbacks)
“The length of their lineup stands out. You just feel so much pressure when you’re pitching to them. It’s the most balanced offense in the league. Especially in that ballpark that plays offensive once you get past the early season weather. It’s just a really deep lineup.
“They hit 90 home runs this year. They’ve got seven guys with seven or more home runs, but they run too. Even some of these guys that hit the ball over the fence, they hit the ball really well. You feel like you never get to breathe.
“(Blaine Knight is) good. You just have to string together some good at bats. He’s a strike thrower with multiple pitches and he competes really well. You have to capitalize when you get chances. He very consistently has pitched deep into the game. They’re one of the top teams in the country when he’s pitching.
“They have some depth and some stuff (in their pitching staff). They’ve got nine, 10, 11 guys on the staff that can run it 93 mph with a good breaking ball. Kacey Murphy has been so steady for them. Knight overshadows him, but Murphy has given them quality starts every time out. They have two really dependable starters. If you get to Day 3, they’re going to piece it together (on the mound) and outslug you.
“I think postseason experience is huge, and to have it and be playing at home is huge. You get in these environments and the crowds are packed. You know Omaha is in your palm. It’s easy for everyone to be anxious and too amped up. They’re probably going to go out and play their best baseball. Coach Van Horn’s been around the block and he’ll have them right where they need to be. No disrespect to South Carolina, but there’s no way you can bet against Arkansas at their place in a best-of-three.”
Coach: Mark Kingston
Postseason history: 13th super regional appearance (first since 2016). Seeking 12th trip to Omaha and first since 2012.
Postseason route: No. 2 seed in Greenville Regional. Went 3-0, defeating UNC Wilmington 8-4 in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Gamecocks)
“We rolled in there and by the middle of the series, we were like these guys are really good. They even had a guy or two banged up. They’ve been able to use multiple lineups. They have options that other people don’t have. I’m not so sure they weren’t the most talented team we played other than Florida. I think it was a matter of the pieces just coming together, everybody being healthy.
“(Carlos) Cortes, I knew what he was, I’m a huge fan of him, but wasn’t much on the statistic sheet early and he’s kind of ignited. What’s there is a wealth of talent. They maybe don’t have the main two sticks in the bullpen and their starting rotation has kind of flip-flopped a little bit and maybe not the three or four guys that a lineup revolves around, but they just seem to have a wealth of options on the mound and in the field. I was kind of dumbfounded that the record was what it was. They were bringing some serious velocity at us, and then the strike throwing and some pretty good arms out of the ‘pen and a bunch of different position guys that can do different things.
“Kind of caught on to (their confidence) watching the tournament games. It was almost like a game or a puzzle you’re trying to piece together, searching for who are we, who are we and then they found it. I think once it clicked, I think everything just kind of clicked. Guys started playing up to their potential, they started winning games, other teams realized how competitive they are, and they probably won some close games or made some comeback runs because they knew what they were. But they definitely didn’t (early in the season) otherwise they would have been a little better off.
“They overwhelmed us. We played hard and we did not play that poorly for three games. We did make some defensive mistakes, but they just kind of overwhelmed us and almost like a python strangled us. I think it’s because they have a wealth of talent. Nothing real overwhelming in one spot – maybe the velo sticks out – but I think once that clicked for them I could envision that confidence being a spark for them and sticking.”