2023 NCAA Baseball Regionals: Breaking Down the College Baseball Field & Regional Hosts
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: The College World Series trophy.
Welcome to the road to Omaha.
After an important week of conference tournament action, all of the automatic bids have been snagged and the NCAA selection committee has finalized its choices of 64 teams for the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
With all 16 host sites announced, Action Network broke down what fans and bettors should know about each host, as well as where all 64 teams will be playing.
As we move closer to first pitch, be sure to check back to see Doug Ziefel's top College World Series futures and Collin Wilson's full NCAA Regionals betting preview, along with moneyline and total projections for each game.
About the Host: The Demon Deacons are the overall No.1 seed after they tore through the ACC and finished 47-10 on the season.
Wake Forest's pitching depth helped it take the leap this season from good to great. This unit led the nation in ERA, FIP and SIERA while holding opposing teams to a .169 batting average.
Ace Rhett Lowder is arguably the top arm in the country, as he went 13-0 with a 1.58 ERA. However, the Demon Deacons can swing it too, finishing fifth in the nation in wRC+.
They're the favorites to win it all, but it remains to be seen if they'll live up to the lofty expectations.
About the Host: A run to the SEC Tournament semifinals verified the Gators are one of the top teams in the nation.
Florida never lost a series at home during the season, making Condron Ballpark one of the tougher places for an upset during Regional and Super Regional weekend. The bats have always been able to produce instant offense, as Florida finished the season ranked top 10 in slugging and homers per nine.
The player to watch on the team is utility man Jac Caglianone, leading the team in home runs and RBIs. The sophomore has also started 15 games on the mound this season, averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Caglianone is a dangerous southpaw who generally starts the third game of every series behind Hurston Waldrep and Brandon Sproat.
Anchoring the bullpen is closer Brandon Neely with 10 saves on the year. The junior has struck out 57 batters in 39.2 innings, giving Florida an elite pitching staff through the postseason.
About the Host: Dave Van Horn came up short of an SEC Tournament title, but a statement game against LSU has the Hogs looking north to Omaha.
Despite a flood of injuries throughout the season, Arkansas has not missed a beat in racking up enough SEC wins to share the regular-season title.
With 11 previous appearances at the College World Series, Van Horn may have his best team yet. The pitching staff starts with two southpaws in junior Hagen Smith and freshman Hunter Hollan. Closer Brady Tygart suffered an injury midseason and now serves as a third starter. Will McEntire looks for continued success in the postseason as the pitching staff's glue guy. Meanwhile, freshman Gage Wood has taken on closer duties.
With elite fielding percentage, more than half of the lineup is capable of going yard. The Razorbacks will be heavy favorites in the Regionals and Super Regionals with home-cooking at Baum-Walker Stadium.
About the Host: The hottest team in baseball is the Clemson Tigers, verified by a run to the ACC Championship game.
Head coach Erik Bakich won 17-of-18 games heading into the conference tournament, guaranteeing home-field advantage throughout the Super Regionals.
Winning on the road is tough in college sports, but Clemson posted an impressive is a 14-5 mark in true road games.
Equipped with a top-10 strength of schedule and RPI, Clemson’s best aspect as a team comes from the staff ERA. Underclassmen Ethan Darden and Austin Gordon have led the way in starting pitching, but the play of Caden Grice is the difference maker on this team.
The junior not only handles first base duties while leading the team in home runs and RBIs, but he also has the most wins on the pitching staff. Generally a Game 3 starter in series, the southpaw has struck out nearly a third of all batters faced this season.
Baton Rouge Regional
About the Host: LSU saw its hopes for an SEC Tournament title come to an end with consecutive losses to Arkansas and Texas A&M.
The Tigers' pitching staff is led by starter Paul Skenes, who is expected to be the first pitcher taken in the 2023 MLB Draft. The Air Force transfer has struck out 167 batters of 347 faced, averaging nearly seven innings per outing.
LSU played the fifth-toughest schedule in the nation and was in the driver's seat for the No. 1 overall seed most of the season. The Tigers lost series late in the SEC schedule to Auburn and Mississippi State but dominated South Carolina in the opening game of the SEC Tournament.
Head coach Jay Johnson possesses a top-five lineup in terms of home runs per game, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Led by future MLB All-Star outfielder Dylan Crews, the Tigers lit up the scoreboard in Alex Box Stadium and enter the postseason with one of the highest Park Factors number.
About the Host: Tim Corbin's Commodores answered a lot of questions on the way to securing the SEC Tournament crown.
Entering the tournament, Devin Futrell was the only weekend starter still healthy, but we saw the return of Hunter Owen and the rest of their excellent staff step up to contain some of the best lineups in the country.
Speaking of lineups, Vandy's bats came to life after finishing last in the SEC in wRC+.
This Vanderbilt club may have found its groove at the right time, and if it can get Carter Holton back, it has more than enough depth to make a deep run this postseason.
About the Host: Virginia is a team that has the potential to make a title run, as it's one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. The Hoos led the nation in batting average and also finished fifth in the country in ERA.
While the top end of their rotation faltered in the ACC tourney, they will likely make that a rare occurrence going forward; the Cavaliers had four starters with ERAs under four this season.
Virginia may be overshadowed by Wake Forest and Clemson in the ACC, but it has as good a shot as any host to run through Omaha.
About the Host: The Cardinal are separated from their Super Regional peers in a lower strength of schedule and RPI rank. The Pac-12 is expected to get six teams into the postseason, as Stanford took the series against Washington, Oregon State and Arizona in conference play.
The one-two combination in the lineup is Alberto Rios leading the team in home runs while maintaining an average over .400 and Tommy Troy tallying 65 runs and 17 stolen bases.
The pitching staff does leave a little to be desired with ranks outside the top 100 in staff WHIP and ERA.
Quinn Mathews generally takes the ball when opening a series, racking up 127 strikeouts over 100 innings this season. Although Mathews is the anchor, the southpaw senior was tagged for a combined 17 earned runs in his last three appearances.
Coral Gables Regional
About the Host: The Hurricanes fell just one game short of capturing the ACC Tournament Championship, losing to fellow Regional host Clemson.
Miami is clicking on all cylinders at the right time, winning six consecutive series to end the regular season.
The lineup is flat-out dangerous with six players who have hit double-digit home runs.
Matching top-20 ranks in homers per nine and slugging is the defense, as the Hurricanes are as good as anyone in fielding percentage. Gage Ziehl and Alejandro Rosario lead the pitching staff, always looking to go deep into games to pass the baton to shutdown closer Andrew Walters.
About the Host: If there's a team that loves to score runs at home, it’s Coastal Carolina at Springs Brooks Stadium. A rank in the top 25 in homers per nine, on-base and slugging will test oddsmakers and totals through Regionals.
Contributing to one of the higher numbers in Park Factors is a Chanticleers pitching staff that gives up plenty of runs.
The shining light on the pitching staff is Teddy Sharkey, who leads the team in wins and saves. The junior is no stranger to pitching on consecutive days, facing 193 batters with an average of two innings per outing.
The offense is powered by catcher/first baseball Derek Bender, who ranks seventh of all Division I players in RBIs.
The biggest benefactor to the hitting of Bender has been shortstop Payton Eeles, an elite leadoff hitter with 40 stolen bases this season. Coastal will look to outscore every opponent while relying on Sharkey to save any lead during Regionals.
About the Host: While this Regional will be fun to watch with the ball flying in Stillwater, the host team risks being on the wrong end of many of those deep-fly balls.
The bats are going to need to be hot for Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys' pitching staff has dragged this team away from regular-season success. They finished third in the Big 12 and then got blown out in the conference tournament title game.
Oklahoma State has one reliable arm in Juaron Watts-Brown, but in any game in without him on the hill, the Cowboys will be vulnerable.
About the Host: The Wildcats may have finished as the 25th team in the nation with a 36-18 record, but their 16-14 record in SEC play may tell a better story about this team.
Kentucky finished third in the SEC in team batting average but ranked seventh in wRC+. The Cats have a ton of speed at the top of the order but lack the power to drive them home at times.
On the mound, the Wildcats' numbers are a bit deceiving as well. Kentucky finished third in the SEC in ERA but was seventh in FIP and ninth in SIERA.
It had a fast exit in the SEC Tournament, losing 4-0 to Alabama. It'll be interesting to see which version of this team we get once Regional play begins.
About the Host: A soft showing in Hoover dropped Auburn’s RPI, but a Regional host position was still in the cards for the Tigers.
After taking a series from LSU, a winning streak extended into the SEC Tournament. Auburn took nine straight before consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Alabama.
The full-season numbers leave a plenty to be desired from a pitching perspective, but Auburn got hot at the right time of the year.
Senior southpaw Tommy Vail leads the pitching staff and averages more than a strikeout per inning. The strength of the team is in fielding percentage, a variable needed for a trip to Omaha.
Terre Haute Regional
About the Host: The Sycamores are certainly a team that looks good on paper. They dominated the Missouri Valley Conference, going 24-3 in conference play while capturing both the regular-season and conference tournament titles.
However, if they get paired with teams from power conferences, don't be surprised to see them as underdogs to advance.
Indiana State may have an excellent record, but it finished fifth in the conference in wRC+ and owns a FIP that's nearly two full runs higher than its team ERA.
The Sycamores may be the most vulnerable host entering Regional play.
About the Host: South Carolina is the most intriguing of the eight SEC hosts.
The Gamecocks have an incredible resume with series victories over Clemson, Vanderbil, and Florida. However, they crashed and burned down the stretch, failing to win a series since April 22.
It all depends on which version of this team shows up at Regionals.
The Gamecocks finished fifth in the SEC in wRC+, bashing 110 homers while also ranking second in the conference in FIP.
The numbers show the Gamecocks has the talent to compete with anyone in the country, but they're a true wild card as they look to wipe the slate clean entering the postseason.
About the Host: The Crimson Tide heater came to an end during the fourth round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover.
Since the firing of head coach Brad Bohannon for suspicious gambling activity in early May, Alabama caught fire against the SEC. Series wins over Vanderbilt and Texas A&M propelled the Tide’s RPI enough to be a Regional host.
The strength of Alabama comes from a top-10 pitching staff in terms of staff ERA and WHIP. Led by starters Jacob McNairy and Luke Holman, Alabama is one of the few teams nationally with a team ERA under 4.00.
Watch out for freshman Colby Shelton at the plate, as he enters Regionals with one of the highest home run per game rates.