Texas State (40-21): Southland Conference automatic bid
In the open of this preview, I was critical of the Bobcats' placement as a two seed in this regional. That does not, however, mean I don't think they're any good.
Even without winning the Southland Conference tournament, Texas State had a great shot at grabbing an at-large bid to the tournament. That's no small feat in a conference like the Southland.
As a team, they are hitting just a shade under .300. They have a legitimate ace in Carson Smith and two late inning relievers in Jeff McVaney and Joseph Dvorsky that can shut the door on anyone.
I suspect their opening game against Kent State will be quite the dogfight.
Best-case scenario: Texas State defeats Kent State to get into the winner's bracket against Texas. After dropping the game to Texas, likely against ace Taylor Jungmann who was saved for the game against the Bobcats, Texas State fights their way back to the regional final to get one last shot at unseating the Longhorns.
Worst-case scenario: The Bobcats drop their opening game against Kent State and are forced to play out of the loser's bracket, likely against Princeton. They have their hands full with a Princeton team that has nothing to lose and even if they survive, their pitching will be ravaged enough to keep them from advancing.
Offensive players to watch: Tyler Sibley (.354 BA, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 20 steals), Jeff McVaney (.332 BA, 10 HR, 47 RBI), Casey Kalenkosky (.328 BA, 21 HR, 69 RBI), Kyle Kubitza (.314 BA, 9 HR, 61 RBI)
Pitchers to watch: Carson Smith (9-3, 1.98 ERA), Jeff McVaney (2.08 ERA, 9 saves), Joseph Dvorsky (2.95 ERA, 6 saves)