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2019 NCAA Super Regional Preview: Fayetteville


Dave Van Horn

Postseason History: Eighth super regional appearance (second consecutive). Seeking 10th trip to Omaha and second consecutive.

Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Fayetteville Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Texas Christian, 6-0, in regional final.

Scouting Report (anonymous coach breaks down the Razorbacks)

“Their ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark at any given time is a for sure weapon for them. They returned enough good hitters from a year ago and the guys they have placed in there know how to manipulate their way through at bats. When you think about Trevor Ezell, when you think about Jack Kenley, all these guys.

“They have some really mature hitters, they can beat you with power, obviously they have some team speed. They’ve got multiple guys who can hit the ball out of any part of the ballpark and that makes the lineup extremely dangerous and tough to pitch to. Heston Kjerstad, Casey Martin, Dominic Fletcher, those are the three guys that scare you the most.

“Casey Opitz, the catcher, he changed the game with his blocking and his arm. He’s a shutdown defender behind the plate. We were getting him at 1.8 (pop times) in a game. It’s as good a college arm behind the plate as I’ve seen. They’re solid overall defensively but Fletcher and Opitz are their best defenders.

“You’re going to need some help (to beat Isaiah Campbell). You’re going to need some help from him not commanding the zone and some help from their defense. And you’re going to have to get some timely hits. I know that sounds simple and generic, but it’s just true.

“It’s really hard (to get to Matt Cronin). You’re going to have to take his fastball away from him and I don’t think anyone’s proven they can this year. He makes for some real uncomfortable at bats.

“They’re just really good at home. Really good and tough to beat at home. They’re 26-4 at home in conference play the last two years. The Arkansas people, they know that, and they know that’s the team that beat them because it doesn’t happen a lot. They remember.”

Position Name, Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR RBI  
C Casey Opitz, So. 0.235 0.370 0.290 162 2 28  
1B Trevor Ezell, R-Sr. 0.323 0.437 0.552 232 9 45  
2B Jack Kenley, Jr. 0.324 0.441 0.571 219 12 50  
3B Jacob Nesbit, R-Fr. 0.263 0.343 0.356 194 3 41  
SS Casey Martin, So. 0.287 0.369 0.556 261 15 53  
LF Christian Franklin, Fr. 0.274 0.362 0.419 186 6 34  
CF Dominic Fletcher, Jr. 0.312 0.378 0.526 247 10 56  
RF Heston Kjerstad, So. 0.331 0.408 0.567 245 15 46  
DH Matt Goodheart, So. 0.348 0.451 0.514 181 4 42  
Position Name, Year W L ERA IP BB SO SV
RHP Isaiah Campbell, R-Jr. 11 1 2.27 103 19 108 0
RHP Connor Noland, Fr. 3 4 3.56 73.1 13 53 0
LHP Patrick Wicklander, Fr. 6 2 4.29 65 36 88 0
RP Matt Cronin, Jr. 1 0 2.00 27 14 40 12
RP Jacob Kostyshock, Jr. 1 3 2.89 28 10 29 1

Ole Miss

Coach: Mike Bianco

Postseason History: Sixth super regional appearance (first since 2014). Seeking sixth trip to Omaha and first since 2014.

Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Oxford Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Jacksonville State, 19-4, in regional final.

Scouting Report (anonymous coach breaks down the Rebels)

“They’ve got all those older position players. It seems like Ryan Olenek, Grae Kessinger and Thomas Dillard—it seems like those guys have been there forever. But you better have lefthanded pitching. To me them and Arkansas are similar teams, I’m really intrigued by that series. They’re older, physical, going to have five lefthanded bats in the lineup. They were in a tailspin and the next thing you know they were playing on Sunday (in the SEC Tournament) and now they’re in a super. It’s crazy.

“They run more than they ever have before. Kessinger has had a great year, Dillard’s a dude. A guy like Anthony Servideo is a good player that just gets overshadowed, just a really good, well-rounded player. Cooper Johnson has made some strides with the bat, he’s a game changer defensively. Tyler Keenan makes enough plays over at third and you look up and he’s got double-digit home runs. They’re like Arkansas in that they’ve got some length to their lineup and a lot of guys with a lot of college at bats under their belt.

“They really struggled early with their bullpen. It seems like they’ve been pitching better out of the bullpen. Doug Nikhazy’s awesome for them, Will Ethridge has had a great career. Two real starters and Parker Caracci, when he’s going, you’ve got a real ninth-inning guy. Now, all you’ve got to do is piece together two or three other guys and that’s a weekend.

“I saw something on TV, I guess Ryan Olenek has played virtually everywhere on the field except catcher. If you have an older guy that can play that many positions and he’s put up really good offensive numbers for two years, that’s invaluable to have a guy that versatile with that much production and that experience.

“Ole Miss always plays good defense. Kessinger is Steady Eddie at shortstop and he’s done more with bat this year. And then here comes Cole Zaboski, Dillard, Keenan in the middle. There’s three guys that you don’t want to leave the ball out over the plate. It’s a pretty good lineup.

“I think it’s huge that they’ve played at Arkansas before. It’s not easy going to any of these places in our league but when you’re in our league and then you’ve already been to Baum, they know exactly what it’s going to be. They’re not going to hear anything or see anything that they haven’t seen or heard already. On top of that, they’ve got a bunch of older dudes. Dillard’s been there for like nine years. Olenek’s been there for seven years. Kessinger is in his sixth year playing shortstop at Ole Miss. You couldn’t be any more prepared for going to Baum than this Ole Miss team.

“My prediction for this series is one team’s going to win Friday, the other team’s going to win Saturday and the Sunday game is going to be tight in the sixth or seventh inning. To me, they’re the same team. They’re different, but they’re the same.”

Position Name, Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR RBI  
C Cooper Johnson, Jr. 0.265 0.369 0.434 196 7 30  
1B Cole Zabowski, Jr. 0.316 0.371 0.512 250 11 48  
2B Jacob Adams, Sr. 0.222 0.369 0.259 135 0 19  
3B Tyler Keenan, So. 0.279 0.421 0.492 240 14 62  
SS Grae Kessinger, Jr. 0.332 0.427 0.458 262 5 47  
LF Thomas Dillard, Jr. 0.312 0.451 0.541 231 13 60  
CF Ryan Olenek, Sr. 0.342 0.416 0.428 222 1 32  
RF Anthony Servideo, So. 0.290 0.432 0.395 200 3 24  
DH Kevin Graham, Fr. 0.259 0.331 0.531 143 10 34  
Position Name, Year W L ERA IP BB SO SV
RHP Will Ethridge, Jr. 7 6 2.91 89.2 22 71 0
LHP Doug Nikhazy, Fr. 8 3 2.98 84.2 32 78 1
RHP Gunnar Hoglund, Fr. 3 2 4.64 66 13 52 0
RP Parker Caracci, R-Jr. 3 3 4.99 30.2 17 36 11
RP Austin Miller, Jr. 5 3 2.92 52.1 24 61 2
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