Previewing the Gainesville Regional

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The Road to Omaha continues this weekend with NCAA regional action.

We take an in-depth look at all 16 NCAA regionals.

TeamConferenceRecordBerthLast NCAA appearance
1. FloridaSEC42-15At-large2009 (Gainesville SR)
2. Florida AtlanticSun Belt35-22At-large2005 (Coral Gables Regional)
3. Oregon StatePac-1031-22At-large2009 (Fort Worth Regional)
4. Bethune-CookmanMEAC35-20Won MEAC2009 (Gainesville Regional)
The favorite: Florida
1. Florida
2. Florida Atlantic
3. Oregon State
4. Bethune-Cookman
The Gators put together a fantastic regular season campaign and won the SEC regular season title. They also were a lock for a national seed entering last week’s SEC tournament, where they went 2-2. UF is a very disciplined and interesting team to watch. UF doesn’t have a wonderful batting average (.298) but is very opportunistic at the plate with Matt den Dekker, Preston Tucker, Austin Maddox and Brian Johnson leadng the way. On the mound, youngsters Hudson Randall and Brian Johnson have risen to the occasion this season. The Gators also have an incredibly deep pitching staff. It would be a huge surprise if the Gators won’t take care of business this weekend.
The dark-horse contender: Oregon State
It wasn’t too long ago the Beavers were on the bad side of the NCAA bubble. But after a strong finish to the regular season, OSU enters the postseason with some confidence. Oregon State brings an impressive pitching staff to the field this weekend. The Beavers have a 3.95 ERA and have starting pitchers Ryan Gorton, Sam Gaviglio and Greg Peavey as the headliners. Relievers Matt Boyd, Kevin Rhoderick and Kraig Sitton also have done a fantastic job this season. The biggest question mark about this team is its offense, which enters the weekend with just a .266 batting average. OSU could surprise if its offense rises to the occasion.
Best hitter: Florida 1B Preston Tucker
The Gators have several hitters to watch from a solid lineup, but leading the way is Preston Tucker. Tucker is second on the team in batting average, but is a big-time contributor in other offensive categories. Tucker is hitting .341 with 16 doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 42 RBIs. He also is slugging .575 and has a .448 on-base percentage. UF’s offense is tough to slow down if Tucker, Matt den Dekker and Austin Maddox are on fire.
Best pitcher: Florida Atlantic RHP Mike Gipson
The Owls are back in the postseason and hope to make some noise in Gainesville, Fla., this weekend. To do so, veteran pitcher Mike Gipson must be on his game. Gipson has had a fabulous season for the Owls. He has made 15 starts and has an 8-1 record and a 3.40 ERA in 106 innings. He also has struck out 91 and walked 40 and opponents are just hitting him at a .228 clip. Gipson is one of the nation’s most underrated pitchers. Perhaps he will burst onto the scene this weekend.
The buzz
For Florida, keep an eye on infielder Josh Adams and reliever Kevin Chapman. Adams has had a tough season overall at the plate, but has played well the past few weeks. Still, Adams only enters the weekend hitting .233 with seven homers and 39 RBIs. Florida is in business if Adams steps up. Also watch for Chapman, UF’s key reliever. Chapman has recorded 11 saves in 28 appearances and has a 1.31 ERA in 41 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 40 and walked just 70. Teams are hitting .171 against him … Florida Atlantic may have a pitcher in Mike Gipson as its headliner, but keep an eye on its offensive lineup that enters regional play hitting .308. Andy Mee and Dan Scheffler are the headliners at the plate. Mee leads the team with a .388 batting average, 16 doubles, five triples, eight homers and 53 RBIs. Scheffler, meanwhile, is hitting .367 with 21 doubles, three triples, 14 homers and 63 RBIs. The Owls are tough to slow down if these two are on fire … The Beavers could have a tough time getting much going offensively this weekend. OSU already enters the postseason with a below average offense. But even with Adalberto Santos leading the way, the Beavers will miss Stefen Romero. Romero was hitting .326 with 10 doubles, a home run, 13 homers and 41 RBIs before suffering a hairline fracture in his forearm against Arizona State a couple of weeks ago. Romero will not play this weekend and is out the remainder of the season … Bethune-Cookman has been a postseason mainstay out of the MEAC for several seasons. It hopes to pull off a huge upset against the Gators in the Gainesville Regional opener. The Wildcats have a talented pitcher in Ali Simpson (4.66,65 2/3 IP), but are paced by their offense, which enters the regional with an impressive .342 batting average. Offensive cogs to watch include Peter O’Brien (.392,20,56) and Ryan Durrence (.368,18,70).