Teams of the Week, Feb. 26-Mar.4
Maybe the season shouldn't start until March.
No really. Think about it.
February saw most Top 25 teams just line up tin can after tin can and pile up Ws quicker than a WalMart greeter racks up hellos (and lack-of-dignity points). Okay, so there was an occasional upset to these big shots, that's true. But that still doesn't mean I want to look at the upcoming weekend schedule and see Big Money U. take on the Sacrificial University Lambs time and again. As Wayne Graham told me a few weeks ago, "That's boring!"
But things changed a little this weekend with a few good head-to-heads on the national landscape, helping to shape our Teams of the Week that you see below. But the better news is that next week, things get ratcheted up another notch. Which is cool.
So for now, here are the Teams of the Week, for February 26th through March 4th.
Team of the Week: Charlotte (3-1)
L9-7 (10inns.) at Wake Forest
W16-7, W5-4, W8-3 vs. James Madison
After the frustrating extra inning loss to Wake (where the Niners blew a 7-2 lead), they were all business this weekend. Catcher Kris Rochelle went 8-for-9 in the JMU series, including two doubles and a triple to pace the offense. Spencer Steedley went 5-for-12 and also picked up the win on Sunday, striking out eight in 7.2 innings. Oh, and Dukes All-American OF Kellen Kulbacki was held to 2-for-11 in the three games.
Honorable Mention: Fairleigh-Dickinson (3-1)
W16-4, W7-5, W9-8, L6-5 (7inns) at Maryland-Eastern Shore
For a team that was picked to finish last in the Northeast Conference, I"m relatively sure this will be the last time I get to gloss on about the Knights this season. So let's have fun with it while we can. Leadoff man Chris Grabowski did his job of setting the table all weekend long, going 8-for-17 with nine RBI. FDU heads to Appalachian State this coming weekend for its second stretch of action.
*Alright, no disrespect to either of these teams, of course. But the East was really hard to pick this week. The only major conference in the region (the ACC) didn't beat anybody worthy of mention and the rest of the region is still buried in snow, so their records aren't going to be very flattering until about April or so.
Team of the Week: Lipscomb (4-1)
W4-1at Tennessee Tech
W3-1 vs. Middle Tennessee State
W7-6, W10-7 L8-4 at LSU
The difference between the Bison and the teams below in the Honorable Mention category is that they did their damage on the road at an SEC school. And unlike the others, you know this weekend is something they'll be able to tell their grandkids about someday. LU now owns wins over Evansville, Auburn, Boston College and LSU (2) and are now 11-5. LSU is 8-6 and home to an antsy fanbase at this moment.
Honorable Mention: A three-way tie
- South Carolina (2-0)
The Gamecocks swept a pair from No. 4 Clemson, including an ugly 12-0 mashing on Saturday behind an awesome offensive display that had Mark Etheridge already calling them the best offense in the country.
- Auburn (3-1)
Making big comebacks and key plays at the right time (and, according to Pat Murphy, a few favorable calls), AU gets a great non-conference series win against Arizona State.
- Southern Miss (3-1)
Eagles get great pitching and defense all week, issuing just seven walks and allowing for three errors in four games, two of which were wins over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Teams of the Week: The Big 10
Now I see why they want the season to start in March. The Big 10ers kicked some serious arse all weekend long. And no, they didn't sweep people or win by blowout amounts, but respect was earned all the way around, from favorites to supposed bottom-feeders. Here are a few examples of the Ws they pulled off.
- Michigan beat Troy and Mississippi State.
- Minnesota split a pair with both Ole Miss and Arkansas.
- Penn State beat North Carolina and played them toe-to-toe all weekend long.
- Iowa came back from an 8-run deficit to beat Nebraska.
- Purdue got a sweep at Western Kentucky.
Honorable Mention: Oklahoma (4-0)
W5-4 vs. Wichita State
W14-5, W11-5, W2-1 vs. UC Riverside
After starting the season 2-4, including losses to Texas State and Texas-Pan American, the Sooners did two things, 1- they got Aaron Reza back in the lineup (who has gone 13-for-25 since his return) and 2- they got downright mad. The sweep of UCR is damned impressive, considering people have been saying the Highlanders may have the best pitching in the Big West.
Team of the Week: USC (4-0)
W7-1 vs. Loyola Marymount
W4-3, W4-2, W7-6 (10inns) at Georgia
The up side: USC, despite all its accursed youth, is back to its winning ways, its place in the national polls and worth keeping an eye on, especially SS Grant Green. My, what a talent.
The down side: The Dogs may never schedule another Pac 10 team again after falling to 0-6 against them.
Honorable Mention: Cal State Fullerton (3-1)
W9-8 vs. San Diego State
W10-3, L9-3, W6-1 vs. Rice
As stated in yesterday's Sunday Summations, the Titans just need a little kick-in-the-butt motivation. Because Saturday's loss to Rice was rather ugly. Hell, I'll say it, they didn't even belong on the same field with the Owls. But the getaway game was the perfect 180, including Sean Urena's sweet one-hitter from the mound.