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Austin regional: Texas hopes to reverse trend

Yahoo Sports

Texas would love nothing more than to reverse a recent trend.

The Longhorns are one of the nation's most historic programs and have tallied six national titles. But the last three seasons, the 'Horns have failed to reach the College World Series. Even worse, they've also failed to reach a super regional.

This year's Texas team appears to be different. The Longhorns have a strong core of leaders and an excellent pitching staff led by senior closer Austin Wood and sophomore starting pitcher Chance Ruffin.

Boston College is having a magical season and hopes to make noise this weekend. The Eagles have one of the nation's top players in catcher Tony Sanchez. Mike Belfiore, meanwhile, is a key cog both at the plate and on the mound.

Texas State is a familiar foe of the Longhorns and enters the Austin regional with an excellent offense led by hard-hitting first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Army, though, hopes to spoiler role with Kevin McKague, Joey Henshaw and Clint Moore as the offensive headliners. This is Texas' regional to lose.

THE TEAMS
Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Texas (No. 1 seed) Big 12 41-13-1 Won Big 12 2008 (Houston regional)
2. Texas State Southland 41-15 At-large 2000 (Waco regional)
3. Boston College ACC 33-24 At-large 1967 (College World Series)
4. Army Patriot 34-19 Won Patriot 2005 (Tallahassee regional)
THE BREAKDOWN
The favorite: Texas

1. Texas

2. Texas State

3. Boston College

4. Army
The Longhorns began the season on the wrong foot at the plate, but have improved offensively the past month of the season. The Longhorns are hitting .289 with Brandon Belt and Michael Torres leading the way. Belt is hitting .342 with 16 doubles, two triples, eight homers and 37 RBIs. Torres, meanwhile, is hitting .319 with nine doubles, two homers and 27 RBIs. While the offense has improved, the pitching staff has been fabulous this spring. The Longhorns enter the Austin regional with a 2.80 earned run average. They are led by ace pitcher Chance Ruffin, but also keep an eye on Taylor Jungmann, Austin Dicharry, Brandon Workman, Cole Green and Austin Wood. Wood is a huge key to the weekend. The senior left-hander enters the postseason with 14 saves and a 2.58 ERA in 59 1/3 innings.
The dark-horse contender: Boston College
The Eagles were predicted to finish near the bottom of the ACC this season. Instead, they've put together a season to remember. The Eagles have played tough competition this season and shouldn't be intimidated in this regional. BC is hitting .311 and is led at the plate by Robbie Anston, Tony Sanchez, Barry Butera and Mickey Wiswall. Anston is hitting .358 with 21 doubles, a home run and 29 RBIs. Sanchez is hitting .355 with 18 doubles, 14 homers and 48 RBIs, Butera is hitting .333 with nine doubles, four triples, four homers and 34 RBIs and Wiswall is hitting .318 with 17 doubles, 14 homers and 62 RBIs. BC has the tools to make things interesting.
Best hitter: Texas State 1B Paul Goldschmidt
The Bobcats have had a season to remember and Goldschmidt is a big reason for that. Goldschmidt is having a great year at the plate and enters the Austin regional hitting .353 with 19 doubles, 17 homers and 85 RBIs. He also is slugging .679 and has a .475 on-base percentage. Goldschmidt also leads the Bobcats with 146 total bases. Additionally, he has scored 68 runs. The Bobcats could surprise some people this weekend if Goldschmidt and others have a huge weekend.
Best pitcher: Texas RHP Chance Ruffin
Ruffin arrived on the national scene last season with a fantastic freshman campaign. He also has had a fabulous sophomore campaign this season. The right-hander has made 14 starts and has a 2.96 ERA in 100 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 91 and walked 21 and opponents are hitting him at a .221 clip. Ruffin has thrown a pair of complete games and also has made five relief appearances. The Longhorns are always confident when Ruffin is on the mound.
The buzz
It's simply amazing what the Texas pitching staff has accomplished this season with coach Skip Johnson in charge. The Longhorns have an incredible 2.80 earned run average and besides Ruffin, closer Austin Wood is having a great year and freshmen Taylor Jungmann and Austin Dicharry are two of the nation's best first-year players. Jungmann has appeared in 19 games and has started seven games. He has a 1.80 ERA in 70 innings and opponents are hitting him at a .197 clip. Dicharry has appeared in 20 games and has a 2.50 ERA in 48 2/3 innings. Teams are hitting .188 against him … Boston College has a few pitchers to watch, including Pat Dean, JB MacDonald and Mike Belfiore. Dean has made 14 starts and has a 3.36 ERA in 88 1/3 innings. MacDonald has made 14 starts and has a 4.70 ERA in 90 innings. Belfiore, though, has made 23 appearances and has a 2.15 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. He also has recorded eight saves … Texas State is more known for its potential at the plate, but the Bobcats have a solid ace pitcher in Kane Holbrooks. Holbrooks has started 14 games and has a 3.34 ERA in 94 1/3 innings. He also has struck out 56 and walked 19 and opponents are hitting him at a .283 clip. Also keep an eye on relievers Lance Loftin, Tyler Brundridge and Michael Russo … Army may leave something to be desired on the mound, but it certainly has a productive offense that enters regional play with a .334 batting average. Keep an eye on Black Knight sluggers Kevin McKague, Joey Henshaw and Clint Moore. McKague is hitting .400 with six homers and 42 RBIs, Henshaw is hitting .394 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs and Moore is hitting .393 with 17 doubles, 10 homers and 60 RBIs.