Excitement fills the Spring air as the temps have finally warmed up to my liking where I am (and they better stay that way) and the start of the MLB season only enhances the feeling.
Virginia (23-4, 10-2 ACC) holds onto their No. 1 ranking after going 5-0 last week. Conner Jones (0.88 ERA) and Nathan Kirby (1.24 ERA) lead the ACC in ERA and form one of the better one-two punches around.
One of the bigger stories of the weekend went down in my neck of the woods where No. 2 South Carolina (24-3, won a pair of games, both in comeback walk-off home run fashion, versus Tennessee on Saturday. I was in attendance for the Grayson Greiner walkoff grand slam which you may have, um, kinda noticed at number one on SportsCenter.
On to the highlights...
No. 3 Florida State (22-5, 10-2 ACC) is in 1st place of the Atlantic division following their sweep of Boston College.
Pitcher Spotlight: Luke Weaver, RHP - The likely 1st rounder, won ACC pitcher of the week with a one-hit shutout of Boston College.
Stock Down: No. 25 NC State - What has happened to the Wolfpack? They've now dropped to 3-9 in ACC play after Miami handed them a sweep.
Stock Up: Duke (17-12, 7-5 ACC) jumped into t0 3rd place of the Coastal division with a statement sweep of in-state rival, North Carolina. Drew Van Orden made a name for himself with a 12 K outing on Friday.
Pittsburgh (15-11, 7-5 ACC) also turning things around in conference play with a sweep over Georgia Tech.
Best Pitching Showdown: The Jake Stinnett-Daniel Gossett Friday night game at Maryland. Both allowed a single run over 8 innings and both touched 95 MPH with their fastball. Clemson would pull out the 3-1 win in the 9th.
Hot Streakin: UCF - The Knights are 6-0 in conference play and have won 9 of their last 10, including a sweep of Temple.
Best Team: Sorry Louisville, but No. 12 Houston (22-5) continues to roll with a nation leading 1.56 Team ERA and are No.2 in the RPI.
(Big 12 Highlights)
No. 29 Oklahoma (20-9) ventured into Kansas and left with a series win and an early division lead.
Player Spotlight: Mac James leads the Big 12 with a .403 AVG and has struck out just three times in 102 at bats. Impressive
Milestone: Texas head coach Augie Garrido became the winningest coach in college baseball history last week. His No. 11 Longhorns (22-7) are looking great this year, carrying the best record and highest ranking in the Big 12.
(Big West Highlights)
Conference play finally began and who else but No. 6 Cal Poly (23-4) emerged with a 3-0 record? No one.
The Mustangs swept UC Davis and Matt Imhof, quite the frequenter of this column, notched yet another double digit strikeout outing on Friday.
The Nation's Strikeout Leader: Yes, Matt Imhof, LHP- 77 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched. Oh, and a 1.05 ERA while we're at it.
Hawaii (14-13) picked up a big series win over No. 23 UC Santa Barbara. Matt Cooper won Big West pitcher of the week with a 9 K complete game on Friday.
Stock Up: Indiana - The preseason hyped Hoosiers (15-10) have been a disappointment thus far but are now 5-1 in Big Ten play, following a quality sweep of Ohio State. Senior second baseman (and draft prospect) Dustin DeMuth earned Big Ten hitter of the week. He's hitting .379 on the year which leads the team although I'm not a fan of that 20-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Liberty (21-7) has now won seven in a row and are starting to pick up some votes in the polls.
Nation's Top Offense: William & Mary - I've talked about the Tribe (18-7) and their offensive potency before (led by rising draft prospect Michael Katz) but why stop when they continue to lead the nation in AVG (.348), OBP (.429), and SLG (.966). They're also 2-0 in CAA play after sweeping Delaware.
Wichita State (16-10) picked up an RBI injection with a series win over No. 16 Cal State Fullerton, who continue to slip in the polls.
Frankie Piliere has a scouting report up on PG (subscription required) on Wichita State first baseman, Casey Gillaspie. He's a potential late first rounder if he continues to slash .404/.508/.657
Middle Tennessee State (12-14) proved No. 14 Rice isn't above the C-USA after all with a big series win over the Owls. Senior righty Zac Curtis won C-USA pitcher of the week.
Nation's Best Closer: Michael Cederoth - RHP - San Diego State - And not just because he's a top draft prospect. The tall right hander with a triple digit fastball also leads the country with 11 saves.
Southeast Missouri State (17-10, 10-2 OVC) is now the top dog in the OVC following their road sweep of UT-Martin. Senior first baseman Matt Tellor dropped four bombs and 11 RBI during the series. And that kind of work will get you some national player of the week love, folks.
Unheralded Nicholls State is off to a 7-2 start in Southland conference play. Meanwhile, preseason favorite Sam Houston State exits the polls after a series loss to Northwestern State.
Scoreless Inning Watch: Sean Newcomb, LHP - Hartford - The likely first rounder still has yet to allow an earned run on the season spanning 39.2 innings pitched now.
Top Mid-Major Team: No. 4 Louisiana-Lafayette - The Ragin' Cajuns (26-3, 8-1 Sun Belt) continue to rage on up the ranking after a series win over Western Kentucky.
Entering The Rankings: No. 24 Washington - This might be the best Huskies (20-5, 8-1 Pac-12) team since "The Freak" was still at Wazzou. They are smokin hot with a ten game win streak and swept USC over the weekend to enter 1st place in the Pac-12.
Player Spotlight: Brian Wolfe, 1B - The Senior batted 7-for-12 with two HR for the Huskies over the weekend to win Pac-12 hitter of the Week. He's hitting .370 on the season, good for 4th best in the Pac-12.
No. 7 Oregon State (21-6, 6-3 Pac-12) picked up a road series win at Arizona and remains the top ranked team in the conference. Ben Wetzler and his stellar 0.47 ERA ranks 5th best in all of college baseball and Michael Conforto is now batting .389, good for 2nd in the conference.
Stanford (10-11, 3-3 Pac-12) picked up an RPI jolt with a big series win over No. 9 Oregon.
The competition is stiff in SEC country as no team as a better conference record than 6-3 nor worse than 3-6 after three weekends of play.
Stock Way Up: No. 19 Florida - The Gators (19-9, 6-3 SEC) re-enter the rankings all the way up at 19 following a huge home sweep of No. 10 LSU.
SEC Hitter of the Week: Grayson Greiner, C - South Carolina - No surprise here after his late inning heroics while batting 7-for-12 on the weekend.
Stock Down: No. 28 Tennessee - The upstart Volunteers (19-7, 3-6 SEC) ran into a buzzsaw here in Columbia as the Gamecocks handed them a sweep.
No. 21 Alabama (19-8, 6-3 SEC) is now tied with No. 13 Mississippi State (20-10, 6-3 SEC) for 1st in the SEC West following their first sweep of Ole Miss since 2006.
Pitcher Spotlight: Junior starter Jon Keller threw a CG on Sunday to win SEC Pitcher of the Week. The crafty lefty has a 1.50 ERA on the season.
(Photo By: ETSU Athletics)
Hitter of the Week: Clinton Freeman - OF/LHP - East Tennessee State
Freeman just went pure beast mode for the Buccaneers over the weekend in their series win at Northern Kentucky. He batted 8-for-10, dropped 4 home runs AND two doubles, while driving in 9 in ETSU's sweep of Northern Kentucky. Not impressed? He also notched two saves out of the bullpen and earned National Player of the Week honors. Freeman is a 6'2, 200 pound Senior and was rated the pre-season No. 9 draft prospect in the Atlantic Sun. But, with the year he's having, 2nd in his conference with a .400/.431/.695 slash line and 6 home runs, he could make a nice single digit round Senior sign type.
(Photo By: Denny Simmons)
Pitcher of the Week: Kyle Freeland - LHP - Evansville
With all due respect to Matt Imhof, who I have featured in this esteemed spotlight before, I decided to profile Freeland, an underhyped lefty from the small school in Indiana. He had a terrific Friday night start (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) against Eastern Kentucky. He now carries a 2.03 ERA on the year with a ridiculous K/BB ratio of 15-1 that would make Cliff Lee proud. Here is a draft profile (subscription required) from Perfect Game on Freeland, whom they have rated as a 1st-2nd round talent.
The latest rankings, courtesy of College Baseball Writers
Team Stat and Individual Stat Leaderboards from Boyd's World
The latest RPI's, also from Boyd's World
That's it for this week. Stay classy, not crassy, my friends.