Southern Miss

Here's everything you need to know about Arkansas's Fayetteville Regional

Arkansas' Casey Martin (15) celebrates with Luke Bonfield (17), left, during the Southeastern Conference tournament. Matthew Guidry singles during Conference USA action.
Arkansas' Casey Martin (15) celebrates with Luke Bonfield (17), left, during the Southeastern Conference tournament. Matthew Guidry singles during Conference USA action.

Arkansas features one of the nation's better home field advantages and that will again be the case this weekend as the Razorbacks play host to the Fayetteville Regional.

Arkansas averaged more than 7,700 fans this season and as many as 10,000 pack into Baum Stadium for bigger games.

As the No. 5 national seed, Arkansas is the heavy favorite this week to advance to a Super Regional.

However, the Fayetteville Regional is stacked with programs that consistently compete for conference championships — No. 2 Southern Miss, No. 3 Dallas Baptist and No. 4 Oral Roberts.

All games in the Fayetteville Regional are scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3.com. Access to ESPN3.com is available for free through most cable subscriptions.

The winner of the Fayetteville Regional will play the victor of the Greenville (N.C.) Regional, which features No. 1 East Carolina, No. 2 South Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 UNC-Wilmington.

Here's a closer look at what to expect from each of the teams in Fayetteville this weekend:

No. 1 Arkansas

The Razorbacks roll in with a record of 39-18 after falling to LSU in the semifinals of the SEC baseball tournament. Arkansas, which finished tied for first in the SEC West with Ole Miss, seems to be in a good spot to begin the postseason.

The bats: The Razorbacks rank second in the SEC in batting average at .299, trailing only Ole Miss (.303). With 84 homers, Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation.

There is no single hitter to point to as the leader of the lineup and that's what makes Arkansas scary. The Razorbacks feature six hitters who are hitting at least .289 and have at least eight homers.

Third baseman Casey Martin, who bats from the right side, has had a great freshman year, leading the team with a .343 batting average and 13 homers.

Left fielder Heston Kjerstad (11), second baseman Carson Shaddy (10) and right fielder Eric Cole (12) are the three other Razorbacks with double-digit homers. All three players hit .325 or better.

The arms: Junior right-hander Blaine Knight was considered one of the top MLB prospects in the SEC entering the season and he hasn't disappointed. He is 10-0 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 starts, striking out 86 and walking 21 in 87 1/3 innings.

Arkansas also features a solid left-hander in junior Kacey Murphy, who is 7-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) this season. He may come in handy against a Southern Miss lineup that's loaded with strong left-handed bats.

Arkansas has good depth in the bullpen with Matt Cronin leading the way with a 2.97 ERA and 11 saves in 19 appearances.

Game changer: Grant Koch doesn't impress at the plate with a .257 batting average, but he's a weapon behind the plate. Teams have only attempted 16 stolen bases against Koch this season and he has thrown out seven of them.

Keys to success: As long as Arkansas doesn't suddenly start struggling at the plate, it should be in good position to advance.

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No. 2 Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles (43-16) were far and away the best team in Conference USA this season, winning their second consecutive regular season title and claiming the C-USA tournament title.

This marks the 15th time that USM has advanced to the NCAA Tournament, but it has only won one regional — the 2009 Atlanta Regional on the way to the program's lone College World Series bid.

The bats: In a regional loaded with potent lineups, Southern Miss won't take a backseat to anyone. The Golden Eagles rank 11th in the nation in team batting average at .304.

Junior third baseman Luke Reynolds, a Mississippi State transfer, is on track for an All-American selection with a .400 batting average, 15 homers and 60 RBIs. The three-hole hitter's on-base percentage of .562 leads the nation.

Sophomore outfielder Matt Wallner gives USM one of the top cleanup hitters in the nation. The potential first-round MLB Draft pick MLB is hitting .358 with a team-leading homers and 66 RBIs.

The arms: Southern Miss features a strong candidate for National Pitcher of the Year in junior right-hander Nick Sandlin. He is 9-0 with the nation's leading ERA at 1.13 in 14 starts. In 95 1/3 innings, he has 134 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Sandlin, who throws from multiple arm angles, has a 93 mph fastball and a nasty breaking ball, will be the starter at 7 p.m. Friday against Dallas Baptist, head coach Scott Berry confirmed Tuesday to the 'Head to Head' radio show.

USM also has good starting options in junior left-hander Stevie Powers (5-1, 3.28) and Walker Powell (7-2, 3.53), but the bullpen lacks depth. USM went to senior right-hander Trent Driver (4-0, 4.12) in key relief situations during the C-USA tournament.

Game changer: If Sandlin is on the mound, USM can beat any team in the nation.

Keys to success: If USM's starters work deep into games, it will have a good chance to make a run at the regional title.

No. 3 Dallas Baptist

The Missouri Valley Conference member continues to find its way to the postseason with its fifth consecutive regional bid. The Patriots are 40-19 with their lone weekend series losses coming to MVC champion Missouri State and ACC champion Clemson.

The bats: The man with the best batting average in the regional is in the DBU lineup. Senior outfielder/first baseman Devin Granberg, who bats leadoff, is hitting .426 with 11 homers, 65 RBIs, 65 runs scored and 24 stolen bases.

Outfielder Jameson Hannah combines with Granberg to give DBU a dangerous one-two combo at the top of the lineup. Hannah is hitting .360 with six homers and 45 RBIs.

DBU has pop in the middle of the lineup in Jimmy Glowenke (.327, 9 HR), Kody Funderburk (.313, 12 HR) and Tim Millard (.275, 14 HR).

The arms: Right-hander Trevor Conn is the MVC Pitcher of the Year with an 8-1 record and a 2.92 ERA in 16 appearances.

On a DBU staff mostly loaded with right-handers, Jarod Bayles (2-3, 2.36), Sean Boyle (1-1, 3.44), Kragen Kechely (7-1, 3.99) and Hines MacGregor (5-3, 4.05) give the Patriots good options out of the bullpen.

Game changer: Conn is the best starter on the staff and he will have to deliver one of his best performances of the season against USM on Friday.

Keys to success: With a staff ERA of 4.38, Dallas Baptist has to hit the ball well all weekend.

No. 4 Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles out of The Summit League feature a record of 38-18 and could be one of the tougher No. 4 seeds in the tournament.

The bats: Oral Roberts lags slightly behind the other teams in the Fayetteville Regional when it comes to hitting. The Eagles have a team batting average of .285 with sophomore Spencer Henson leading the way. Henson is batting .368 with nine homers and 54 RBIs. Senior outfielder Noah Cummings also has nine homers to go with a .323 batting average and 55 RBIs. Outside of Henson and Cummings, ORU doesn't have much pop.

The arms: Oral Roberts has a pair of impressive starting pitchers in two-time Summit League Pitcher of the Year senior, left-hander Miguel Ausua, and senior right-hander Justin McGregor, who is a total of 15-1 over the last two seasons. Ausua is 8-1 with a 3.27 ERA with 66 strikeouts and 33 walks in 88 innings. McGregor is 6-1 this season with a 2.56 ERA.

ORU also has a senior closer in Kyler Stout, who has a 2.13 ERA with 14 saves in 24 appearances.

Game changer: ORU has a pitching staff that can make it competitive against any team in the regional.

Keys to success: If Ausua and McGregor put in great pitching performances, ORU can make a deep run at Fayetteville.

The bracket

Friday's games

Game 1 — No. 1 Arkansas vs. No. 4 Oral Roberts, 2 p.m.

Game 2 — No. 2 Southern Miss vs. No. 3 Dallas Baptist, 7 p.m.

Saturday's games

Game 3 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m.

Game 4 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Sunday's games

Game 5 — Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m.

Game 6 — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m.

Note: A Game 7 will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday if there are two teams remaining with one loss.

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