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A closer look at Auburn, UCLA, FSU, SE Louisiana

The Auburn Regional begins on Friday with FSU facing UCLA (noon on ESPN2) and Auburn playing SE Louisiana (7 p.m. on ESPN+). Here’s a quick look at the four teams in the double-elimination regional. The regional champion will face the winner of the Corvallis (Ore.) Regional hosted by Oregon State.

Auburn

Record: 37-19, 16-13 SEC. Auburn’s RPI is 14th with the 13th strength of schedule.

Coach: Butch Thompson is in his seventh season at Auburn. The Tigers have reached four straight NCAA Tournaments.

Top pitchers: RHP Joseph Gonzalez (6-2, 2.74 ERA, 11 starts, 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 62.1 innings), RHP Blake Burkhalter (4-2, 3.76 ERA, 13 saves, 56 strikeouts and 7 walks in 38.1 innings), RHP Mason Barnett (2-2, 4.56 ERA, 11 starts, 64 strikeouts and 25 walks in 51.1 innings), RHP Trace Bright (3-4, 4.63 ERA, 14 starts (74 strikeouts and 33 walks in 70 innings).

Top hitters: 1B Sonny DiChiara (.379 BA, .556 OBP, 18 HR, 15 2B, 48 RBI, 47 runs, 62 walks in 52 games), 3B Blake Rambusch (.349 BA, .428 OBP, 11 2B, 36 RBI, 46 runs), RF Bobby Peirce (.312 BA, 7 HR, 23 runs, 23 RBI), DH Brooks Carlson (.309 BA, .401 OBP, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 30 runs), CF Kason Howell (.294, .412 OBP, 16 doubles, 34 RBI, 45 runs).

Noteworthy: DiChiara was the SEC’s player of the year with an absurd .556 on-base percentage as well as 17 home runs. … The Tigers reached the CWS in 2019. It’s their 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance. … Auburn took a series at home from Vanderbilt and LSU but dropped two of three at No. 1 Tennessee, two of three at home to Arkansas and two of three at Kentucky. The Tigers did not drop two straight games. … Former all-star RHP Tim Hudson is a volunteer assistant coach / pitching coach.

UCLA

Record: 38-22, 19-11 Pac-12. UCLA’s RPI is 44th with the 46th strength of schedule.

Coach: John Savage is in his 18th season as UCLA’s head coach. The Bruins are 44-25 in the offseason.

Top pitchers: RHP Mac Rajcic (8-4, 3.08 ERA, 14 starts, 91 strikeouts, 18 walks in 79 innings), RHP Jake Brooks (5-4, 3.96 ERA, 10 starts, 57 strikeouts, 10 walks in 63.2 innings), RHP Kelly Austin (4-3, 4.33 ERA, 15 starts, 67 strikeouts, 16 walks in 70.2 innings), RHP Alonzo Tredwell (1.98 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 5 walks, 6 saves).

Top hitters: RF Michael Curialle (.326 BA, 5 HR, 17 doubles, 40 RBI, 47 runs), 1B Jake Palmer (.314 BA, .450 OBP, 10 doubles, 36 RBI, 43 runs), 3B Kyle Karros (.310 BA, 5 HR, 40 RBI), 2B-SS Ethan Gourson (.295 BA, .439 OBP, 22 doubles, 42 RBI), SS Cody Schrier (.293 BA, 9 HR, 18 doubles, 39 RBI, 40 runs).

Noteworthy: Rajcic allowed just one run in six innings in a 4-1 win at No. 2 Oregon State on May 19. He missed a start at the Pac-12 tournament due to an injury … Karros is the son of LA Dodgers standout Eric Karros, who played 13 MLB seasons. … The Bruins’ on-base percentage is .390 (comparing favorably to Auburn’s .384, SE Louisiana’s .372 and FSU’s .362 OBP). UCLA swept Oregon and has series wins over Oregon State, Cal and Arizona.

Florida State

Record: 33-23, 15-15 ACC. FSU’s RPI is 29th with the fourth-toughest strength of schedule.

Coach: Mike Martin Jr. is in his third season as FSU’s head coach. This is his 25th season on FSU’s coaching staff and he was part of eight trips to the CWS as an assistant coach. 

Top pitchers: LHP Parker Messick (6-5, 3.36 ERA, 140 strikeouts and 16 walks in 93.2 innings), LHP Bryce Hubbart (8-2, 3.18 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 18 walks in 73.2 innings), RHP Conner Whittaker (2-2, 1.77 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 12 walks in 35.2 innings), LHP Wyatt Crowell (6-1, 2.27 ERA, 69 strikeous and 13 walks in 47.2 innings).

Top hitters: RF Jaime Ferrer (.319, .441 OBP, 8 HR, 17 2B, 39 RBI, 37 runs), 2B Brett Roberts (.301, 5 HR, 17 2B, 25 RBI, 38 runs), SS Jordan Carrion (.292, 10 2B, 33 runs).

Noteworthy: The lineup is better when Tyler Martin (.280, .472 OBP, 4 2B) is able to go as DH.

Southeastern Louisiana

Record: 30-29, 14-10 Southland. The Lions have the 103rd RPI and 72nd strength of schedule.

Coach: Matt Riser is in his ninth season at SE Louisiana. He has led the program to the NCAA Tournament four times (2014, ’15 and ’17 and 2022).

Top pitchers: RHP Will Kinzeler (4-2, 3.60 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 31 walks in 80 innings), LHP Adam Guth (4-1, 5.13 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 31 walks in 59.2 innings), RHP Gage Trahan (4-4, 4.15 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43.1 innings).

Top hitters: 1B Preston Faulkner (.343 BA, .463 OBP, 17 HR, 18 2B, 51 runs, 70 RBI), 3B Thomas Shea (.294, 12 2B, 47 RBI), 2B Rhett Rosevear (.276 BA, .466 OBP, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 48 runs).

Noteworthy: SE Louisiana picked up a win at Arkansas on March 4, the first of a three-game series. The Lions also won at Ole Miss 5-1 in a midweek game. … SE Louisiana went 22-11 to finish the season. … Riser took over the program when he was just 29.