Louisville: Super Regional Preview

By Doug Kroll - June 07, 2007

Baseball is the one sport where big upsets do happen, and where teams that you didn't think would still be around, let alone hosting in the round of 16, are well, still around and hosting. Two number three seeds will meet for the right to head to Omaha this weekend, when Oklahoma State travels to Louisville. Nobody, and I mean, not even the most fanatical of fans could have picked this one even out of a hat in a random drawing. Allow me to toot my own horn for a second while stating that I did predict that Missouri and Arkansas were not going to win the regionals that they hosted last week. The only problem was, I got the wrong team coming out of each of them. Instead of Creighton playing at Miami this weekend, we've got the Cowboys and the Cards from L'ville.

So where do we start. I guess let's go over how they got here. First for the Cardinals, who were an at-large bid out of the Big East and enter Friday's matchup with a record of 44-21 on the season. After going 2-2 in the Big East Tournament (both losses to fellow NCAA Tournament team Rutgers), Louisville won four of five in Columbia, Mo., as they took down Miami twice and Missouri twice in order to move on.

For Oklahoma State, they had been left for dead after the Big 12 Tournament. They dropped three straight to Missouri at home to end the regular season, then dropped all three games they played in Oklahoma City during the conference tournament to make it six in a row. But the bats woke up just in the nick of time in Fayetteville for the Cowboys, winning all three games they played by downing Creighton 6-4, Arkansas 14-3, and then the Razorbacks again 7-6.

The thing about the Cowboys and Cardinals is that either is too familiar with the super regionals in recent years, but taking a look at history, OSU much more so than Louisville. It will be the first time the Cowboys play in the super regionals since 1999, while Louisville has never. In fact, the Cardinals are making just their second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The first time was in 2002 and they went 0-2 while scoring a total of two runs in the process. To say this year has been a different story is quite the understatement. Tradition-wise it's a no-brainer who's got the edge. The Cowboys have made 19 trips to the College World Series, which is tied for fourth-most all-time

Let's breakdown the teams now, starting with Louisville:

The team broke a Big East and school record by sending nine players to All-Big East teams, including three that made the first team. The team finished 19-8 in conference play, and were 23-8 at Jim Patterson Stadium, which by the way looks gorgeous after being redone.

Isaiah Howes leads an offense that has hit .311 on the year, with a .392 average in all 65 games this year. Howes also has 16 homers and 59 RBI, leading the team in those categories as well. Boomer Whiting is another guy to worry about. How come? Because he has nine more stolen bases than the whole Oklahoma State team, with 72! Then there is the 5-foot-3 shortstop Chris Ctes who has hit .298 this year while starting every game. Not surprisingly he has yet to hit a homerun, but has driven in 19 runs.

Louisville's defense has been solid, coming in at a .971 clip.

Zack Pitts has been the str this year, ptiching to the tune of a 2.73 ERA in 16 starts this year and is 9-3. Opponents are hitting just .220, and he'll get the start against the Cowboys this afternoon.

For Oklahoma State, it's all about the offense. The Cowboys have launched 82 homers this year, and have hit .326 as a team. Two players are hitting above .400, Ty Wright at .411 an Tyler Mach at .401. Five others are above .300. Corey Brown, a high draft pick yesterday, has hit 21 homeruns and driven in 70 runs. Mach leads the team with 80 RBI.

The Cowboys are also a pretty good fielding team, coming in at .970. Then there's the pitching staff, who has pitched well enough, with a 4.02 ERA. Today's starter is Oliver Odle, who comes in at 7-4 has a 4.39 ERA in 15 starts, including the only two complete games the staff has thrown this season.

It's a bad day weather-wise at the moent. Strong storms are heading this way and may disrupt the start time of this one, but it's a beautiful sight this ballpark. The trains are running behind the rightfield fence, in between Papa John's Stadium and this ballpark. The temporary bleachers are in too to bring the total attendance up to about 4,000. Hopefully the weather doesn't hamper any of that.

In case you haven't been here, the field is ALL Field-Turf except around homeplate and the pitcher's mound. The basepaths look like dirt, but it's really brown field turf. That's it for now. Will be back later on.

Touching the Bases will return at the end of the game with complete analysis and a wrapup of today's game. To follow the action with live pitch-by-pitch information, head to Gametracker.

Posted by Doug Kroll at 11:39 AM on June 07, 2007

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