Kansas will play Coastal Carolina tomorrow at 1PM CST in the first game of the NCAA tournament. The Chanticleers are plenty good. Their record is 46-14, they are ranked #24 by Baseball America and their RPI score places them #27 in the nation. And yet this is actually a down year for the team. Coastal Carolina has made seven of the last eight NCAA tournaments. Three of the last four years Coastal Carolina was awarded regional host status. Chanticleer fans seeing 2009 as a rebuilding year does not mean Kansas has an easy Friday match-up.
Before I get into analyzing Coastal Carolina’s performance I point out that they are not comparable to Kansas’ numbers. The Chants play in the Big South conference and their schedule is rated the 130th most difficult of the 302 teams playing D-I baseball. By way of comparison KU’s schedule is rated #35. The Big South is not a terrible conference (ranked 19th out of 30 based on RPI) and, CCU has played some quality out of conference games, but overall they have built their numbers facing opposition significantly less skilled than the Hawks are used to facing. Full CCU stats can be found here.
CCU looks to be a well balanced team. They average 8.4 runs scored a game while only surrendering 4.3, excellent NCAA numbers on both ends. They get on base often (OBP% of .420) and hit for power (Slugging% of .535). CCU has ten players with more than 100 at bats, all of which have an OBP over .360 and only three of the ten have a slugging percentage under .500. Very impressive depth. As a team they have hit 81 homeruns compared to KU’s 54. The Chants also have great team speed, stealing 118 bases on the year, almost three times as many as Kansas has stolen.
CCU has a roster full of good D-I players but one stands out in particular. #23 David Anderson (1B, Sr) is CCU’s version of Tony Thompson. He is hitting .389/.492/.750 with 20 homeruns and 79 RBIs in 208 at bats. He just broke CCU’s career homerun record by hitting his 49th.
The Chants will send right handed starter Nick McCully to the mound instead of their team ace Cody Wheeler to take advantage of the Jayhawks’ right-handed heavy line-up. This really does KU no favors. McCully is 7-1 on the year and has an ERA of 1.92. In 65.2 Innings he has given up only 48 hits (4 home runs), and has a 22/60 BB/K ratio. T. J. Walz will get the start for the Hawks. Walz is 8-2 with a 4.18 ERA. Walz’ peripherals are outstanding (79.2 innings, 78 hits, 29/86 BB/K). McCully is in the process of being converted from the team’s stopper into a weekend starter, so his arm may be more rested than Walz’, but also less used to going deep into games. McCully is a true prospect after impressing last summer in the Cape Code League.
The CCU bullpen contains five decent arms so will not present Kansas with much opportunity for crooked innings late.
First pitch is at 1PM CST. The game will be carried live on KLWN AM-1320 (and streamed live through their website). I am not aware of any way to watch the game but if I find one I will be sure to pass the information along.
Tony Thompson named Third Team All-American by Louisville Slugger: The honors keep rolling in for Tony. Thompson is the first Jayhawk named to the All-American team since 2006 when Don Czyz was named.
Aman Reaka’s College Baseball Top-50 Draft Eligible Players: Aman (aka bkmhoxx) published his top-50 college prospects list at Big-12 Hardball the other day. If I have learned anything about college baseball over the last three years is to trust Aman’s judgment on matters like this. He is right more often than most and this list will prove to be solid. No Jayhawks made the top-50 list but it is full of names you will recognize from the Big-12. Aman is working on a story about KU's draft eligible players which we should have up before draft day.
Other KU coverage: If you can’t get enough KU hardball coverage, here are a few other sites worth checking out:
Waving the Wheat published by our own friend Fetch is keeping up on the Hawks.
Upon Further Review is a blog put out by Bradford Doolittle and Martin Manley of the KC Star. Manley has been publishing on the Jayhawks for the last two months.
State of the Union publishes original material on the team. This week he has a short interview with former KU catcher Logan Overman.
Nick Faunce has added an entry to his journal about Kansas weather and baseball. It is worthwhile reading for anyone who has found themselves sitting at Hoglund on a freezing wet afternoon and thought to themselves, “Am I really this insane?!?!”.