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NCAA Baseball Tournament - Statesboro Regional
Team previews - Georgia Southern, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, UNC-Greensboro

Georgia Southern Eagles

Sun Belt Conference — 23-7

40-18 overall

D-1 National Ranking — 21 

The Eagles are hosting the NCA Regionals for the first time in program history. Georgia Southern has made 15 trips to the NCAA Regionals. Head coach Rodney Hennon is in his 23rd season at Georgia Southern and has 720 victories as the Eagles head coach, including taking them to seven NCAA Regionals. 

The Eagles have held one of the top RPIs in college baseball throughout the season and their non-conference schedule was ranked third toughest in the nation. Georgia Southern has cracked the Top 25 a couple of times this season, including this week at No. 21.

Georgia Southern started the season 2-5 but then won 15 of its next 17 games. Home has indeed been sweet for Georgia Southern this year — the Eagles are an impressive 24-6 record at J.I. Clements Stadium. The Eagles have been solid on offense and pitching but have excelled in defense, where their .982 fielding percentage is good for 7th nationally.

The Eagles had four players named to the Sun Belt all-Conference team, including infielder Jesse Sherrill and DH Noah Ledford, who were both first team selections. Infielder Jason Swan and pitcher Jay Thompson were both named to the All-Sun Belt second team.

The Eagles pitching staff had a team ERA of 4.90 and proved to have some depth. Out of 11 pitchers who recorded a decision only two had losing records. 

Ty Fisher led the team with a 5-2 record and a 2.87 ERA, with 54 strikeouts in in 78 innings. Thompson was the go-to guy out of the bullpen. In 35 appearances, he was 7-3 with a 3.66 ERA and six saves. Jaylen Paden was 6-2 with a 5.32 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 71 innings.

Offensively the Eagles batted .297 with 61 home runs and averaged 7.3 runs per game. The Eagles went on a tear at the plate to end the regular season scoring 143 runs in 11 games.

Sherrill led the Eagles at the plate with a .368 average and a .492 on base percentage with 13 stolen bases. Ledford finished the season batting .333 with 18 doubles, 16 home runs and 69 RBIs. Jason Swan batted .319 with 18 doubles and 43 RBIs and was 11-of-13 in stolen base tries.

Eight years is the biggest gap in making it back to the NCAA regionals of all four teams in the Statesboro Regional. The Eagles, though, have had themselves in position to finish as Sun Belt Conference runners up in five of the last six seasons. The Eagles have had plenty of success despite not having a true No. 3 starter for most of the year. The Eagles are a relentless group who have shown they can come back from nearly any deficit. They are battle tested against some of the best teams in the country, including a season-opening series against No. 1-ranked Tennessee. They also should get a huge boost from a sold-out home crowd, which they have fed off all year, setting school records for attendance in 2022.

Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

ACC Conference — 16-11

35-14 overall

D-1 National Ranking — 17 

The Fighting Irish come to Statesboro making their 24th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 2022 marks the first time since 2005-06 that the Irish have earned consecutive postseason berths. The Irish have the third best winning percentage in the nation over the past two years.

Notre Dame has one of the lowest ERAs in the nation and is led by All-ACC first-team member lefthander John Bertrand who comes in with an 8-2 record and a 2.39 ERA. In 14 appearances this year Bertrand has 94 strikeouts in 90 innings of work and has surrendered only 19 walks. 

The Irish team ERA is 3.19 and the Irish have eight pitchers with ERAs under 4.00. Other noteworthy arms include Austin Temple, who is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA. Temple has 12 starts and 78 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched. Jack Findlay in 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA. He has started eight games and in 35 innings he has 39 strikeouts. 

Offensively the Irish have a team batting average of .298 with 65 home runs and are averaging 8 runs per game. Their leading batter is catcher David LaManna with an average of .367 in 33 starts. Infielder Carter Putz comes in with an average of .350 with 78 hits, 6 home runs and 42 RBIs. Outfielder Ryan Cole is the only other all-conference selection and is batting .303 with 9 homers and 31 RBIs to go along with an impressive 19-19 in stolen base attempts.

The Irish have been ranked in the Top-20 all season long and head coach Link Jarrett’s squad come into Statesboro feeling like they may have been slighted by the tournament committee by not being selected to host this season. They have a tough opening round matchup with No. 8-ranked Texas Tech in what could be a great pitching matchup in the opening round between their ace Bertrand and Big 12 pitcher of the year Brandon Birdsell.

The Fighting Irish and Red Raiders are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Big 12 Conference — 15-9

37-20 overall

D-1 National Ranking — 24 

The Red Raiders come to Statesboro making their 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Tim Tadlock has been the Raiders head coach since 2013 and has led Texas Tech to seven postseason berths getting to the College World Series four times, in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Texas Tech is the highest ranked team in the Statesboro Regional and lost in the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State 6-5 in 11 innings. The Red Raiders had 16 selections in the All-Big 12 awards, including Brandon Birdsell who was named pitcher of the year. Hudson White, who plays catcher and first base, was named freshman of the year, and Owen Washburn was an honorable mention selection and was named to the All-Freshman team.

Birdsell posted an 8-3 record while maintaining a 2.75 earned run average over 72 innings in 2022, striking out 12 batters per nine innings. He held batters to a league-best .204 batting average while ranking second in strikeouts (96), ERA and wins. He went 5-2 in Big 12 play. 

Birdsell is the only Texas Tech pitcher with an ERA under 4.00. The Raiders have a team ERA of 5.25, which is the highest in the Statesboro Regional. Andrew Morris comes in with a 7-2 record and an ERA of 4.72 with 88 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched. Freshman Trendan Parrish leads the team with 6 saves and has an ERA of 8.62.

Offensively, the Raiders have a team batting average of .294 with 83 home runs and are averaging 8.6 runs per game. Their leading batter is sophomore Jace Jung with a .340 average with 71 hits, 18 doubles,14 home runs and 56 RBIs. Junior Cole Stilwel has 73 hits with 9 home runs and 63 RBIs.

The Red Raiders and Fighting Irish are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.

UNC Greensboro Spartans

Southern Conference — 12-9

34-28 overall

D-1 National Ranking — N/A 

The Spartans come to Statesboro making their fifth trip to the NCAA regionals and first since 2017. Head coach Billy Godwin has only been at UNCG since 2019 but has been to Statesboro before when he was head coach at East Carolina from 2005-14 and ranks second all-time in East Carolina program history with 334 wins.

The Spartans started the season 0-7 but have won 20 of their last 26 games, including a remarkable run through the Southern Conference Tournament. UNCG had to play three double-headers in order to win the tournament and got a pair of complete games on the mound from Austin Parsley and Hunter Shuey in sweeping Wofford in the title games.

The Spartans are the only non-ranked team in the Statesboro Region but have four players who were named to the all-Southern Conference team, including second baseman Hogan Windish, who was named SoCon player of the year and Alex Hoppe, who was named pitcher of the year.

Hoppe led the team with a record of 8-2 and an ERA of 2.91. In 65 innings, Hoppe had 82 strikeouts and only 29 walks to go along with three saves out of the bullpen. The Spartans top starter is Parsley, who was 10-4 with a 3.67 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 110 innings with only 14 walks. Lefty Jared Mathewson was 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA and 63 strikeouts. The Spartans team ERA is 5.48.

Offensively, the Spartans have the highest team batting average in the field at .311 with 53 home runs and are averaging 7.5 runs per game. Leading the way is Windish with a .380 average, including 19 doubles, 16 home runs and 60 RBIs. Windish also sports a .496 OBP. Freshman Kennedy Jones is hitting .374 with 11 homers and 73 RBIs while sophomore Pres Cavanaugh is hitting .342 with 8 homers and 56 RBIs, along with 15-18 stolen base attempts.

The Spartans and Eagles are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start Friday at J.I. Clements Stadium.