2009 NCAA Clemson Regional: Team Profiles and Quotes



May 28, 2009

CLEMSON, S.C. - The Alabama baseball team held a 75-minute workout at Doug Kingsmore Stadium today in preparation for Friday's NCAA Tournament opener against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

"We had a good workout today and it was good to familiarize our team with this nice ballpark," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said in his session with the media.  "We have had good practices since the SEC Tournament.  We are mentally ready, now we just need to go play and play well."

Alabama will face Oklahoma State at 2:06 p.m. (CDT) in the first game of the Clemson Regional on Friday.  The game will televised by Comcast Sports South (CSS).

All four teams worked out at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Thursday and the coaches and teams met with the media following each practice.

The teams will attend a tournament dinner at Memorial Stadium tonight before opening NCAA play on Friday.

Here are some quotes from the four head coaches and capsules of the three teams joining Alabama at the Clemson Regional.

Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells

On recovering from a tough end of the pre-NCAA Tournament season
"We have had good practice sessions.  Physically, we are where we should be, we just need to get their emotionally."

On Oklahoma State
"They are a very talented team.  They are an older club and a very capable team.  They are a scary ball club because they are good."

On the importance of a Game 1 win
"It is pretty important to get that first win.  If you win you can play three games, but if you don't win then you would have to play four more."

On selecting pitchers
"We are using our best guy in the first game.  We are using the same guys that we have all season.  It will be that way no matter who we play in the second game."

On Austin Hyatt's control
"He is just a strike-thrower.  People ask how he wins, and there really isn't anything special...he just throws strikes.  He is very quiet and competitive and just finds a way to win."

On Kent Matthes
"We were surprised to some degree that he would have as good a season as he is having.  We did not see it coming.  He just started hitting the ball really well and we thought it was just a nice streak, but it is still going.  He is the kind of player that is good at everything.  He runs well and fields well.  He is the same guy every day.


ALABAMA-OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Oklahoma State, 2-0. The only two meetings have taken place at the College World Series in 1996 and 1999.  Alabama opened the 1996 CWS with a 7-5 win over OSU. The game was the first CWS game for the Crimson Tide in the Jim Wells era.  The two teams also opened the 1999 CWS, with the Tide winning 10-3.

OSU SCOUTING REPORT: Oklahoma State (32-22, 9-16 Big 12) was awarded an at-large bid into this year's NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys hit .304 (562-for-1,849) with 73 home runs and 364 RBI in 54 games this season.  OSU averaged 7.2 runs and 10.4 hits per game. The top four hitters - senior infielder Tyrone Hambley (.338, 9 HR, 38 RBI), junior outfielder Neil Medchill (.337, 14 HR, 55 RBI), sophomore infielder Tom Belza (.336, 2 HR, 43 RBI) and senior outfielder Michael Dabbs (.335, 13 HR, 38 RBI) - are separated by just four batting average points. Medchill and Dabbs have combined for 27 home runs and 93 RBI this season. OSU pitchers have three complete games, two shutouts and a 4.60 ERA. The staff has more strikeouts (486) and less hits allowed (471) than innings pitched (472). Junior lefty Andrew Oliver (15 GS, 5-6, 5.58 ERA, 1 CG) is the ace of the staff and one of the top prospects in the upcoming 2009 MLB Draft. He has 91 strikeouts in 80 innings of work. Freshman right-hander Randy McCurry (25 G, 3-1, 9 SV, 2.45 ERA) has emerged as the closer and posted staggering numbers in his rookie season. He has 49 strikeouts and held opponents to a .250 batting average in 36 2/3 innings.  He has nine of the 14 saves.  The Cowboys also play stellar defense with a .977 fielding mark. OSU has made only 45 errors (0.83 per game) and turned  38 doubles plays in 54 games.

OSU NOTES: Oklahoma State posted a 23-6 non-conference record and had the sixth best non-conference RPI in the nation ... The Cowboys finished ninth in the Big 12 Conference (9-16 record) and did not make the eight-team tournament last week in Oklahoma City ... OSU will be making its 37th NCAA Tournament appearance, which ranks as the fourth most all time ... The Cowboys finished the 2009 regular season with a 32-22 record and are ranked 26th in the latest official NCAA RPI rankings ... OSU is one of eight Big 12 Conference teams in this year's tourney, which is a conference record and is also tied with the SEC for the most teams in this year's tournament. Under sixth-year head coach Frank Anderson, OSU has made five NCAA Regional appearances ... The 2009 berth marks the fourth-straight year the Cowboys have appeared in the NCAA Tournament. OSU has twice advanced to an NCAA Super Regional (1999, 2007) and is tied for fifth all time with 19 appearances in the College World Series ... Alabama has played Oklahoma State in a bowl game (2007 Independence Bowl), NCAA Basketball Tournament (1995) and NCAA Baseball Regionals (1996, 1999 and 2009) ...

ALABAMA VS. BIG 12 TEAMS: Alabama owns a 10-17 (.374) record against the current Big 12 Conference field. The Crimson Tide has played six of the 10 teams and owns a winning record against three clubs. Alabama owns a winning mark against Oklahoma (4-0), Oklahoma State (2-0) and Kansas State (2-1) and is a combined 8-1 against those three schools. The Tide has a losing record against Texas (1-8), Nebraska (1-5) and Texas A&M (0-3) and is a combined 2-16 against those three teams.  Alabama has never faced Baylor, Kansas, Missouri or Texas Tech in baseball.

Oklahoma State Head Coach Frank Anderson

On their pitching rotation
"We have not set anything yet.  We wanted to get through the first practice and then do some scouting and we will get together and set them tonight."

On the Clemson Regional
"Anytime you are playing in an NCAA Regional, there are going to be good teams.  It is no different here.  There are four really good teams playing this weekend."
On Alabama
"They might be one of the most offensive teams in the country.  They also have really good pitching.  Playing in the SEC is tough, just like in the Big 12.  We are going to have to be ready to play.  They have a lot of older kids that have been around the game, which helps them out a lot.  The veterans really lead that ballclub, but they also have some other guys that can really hit the ball well, so we have to watch out for them too."

On the importance of winning the opening game
"It is extremely important that we win that first game.  We are going to do everything that we can to win.  If it is putting a starter in late in the game, then we will do it.  We will do something different if we need to so we can get that win."

On traveling far from home
"It is actually one of the easiest trips we have made all season.  This is the farthest we have had to travel, but it was pretty easy.  Other trips we had to deal with layovers and things."

On scouting for Alabama
"We were able to get some footage from satellite...you are always able to get things that way.  We have been going through video of them."

On Alabama's Kent Matthes
"He is one of those top 5-to-10 guys in the country that really stands out.  This year there aren't players like Buster Posey and (Matt) Weiters, but he is their target guy and we have to watch out for him."

On Clemson
"We have not looked at them yet.  Right now we are focused on Alabama.  They are such a fundamentally sound team and we really have to be ready for them."

ALABAMA-CLEMSON SERIES: Alabama and Clemson, two former members of the Southern Conference, have met 22 times on the baseball diamond and both teams have won 11 games. The two teams first met in 1919 and split a two-game series. Alabama won the initial meeting (8-2) while Clemson won the next game (4-3). The Crimson Tide picked up another regular season win in 1923. The two teams would not meet again until 1947 when the Tide and Tigers met three times in the NCAA District III Playoffs in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson won the opener 1-0, but UA rebounded to win the next meeting 4-1 to force the if necessary game.  Clemson won that game 4-1 and clinched a berth in the College World Series. Alabama posted a 6-1 win over Clemson in the 1950 NCAA Tournament in Gastonia, N.C. The teams met in the regular season in 1973, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, with the 1983 and 1985 games taking place at Tiger Field in Clemson. The last two meetings came in the post season with Clemson winning both games. Clemson beat Alabama 7-4 in the 1995 NCAA East Regional in Clemson and then eliminated the Crimson Tide from the 1996 College World Series with a 14-13 win in 1996. Alabama is 2-3 all-time in games played at Clemson. The Tide is 2-4 against the Tigers in games played in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama owns a 7-3 record in games played in Tuscaloosa. Alabama coach Jim Wells is 0-2 in his career against Clemson.

CLEMSON SCOUTING REPORT: Clemson (40-19, 19-11 ACC) earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Regionals and is the No. 1 seed at this week's Clemson Regional.  The Tigers are hitting .301 (618-for-2,055) with 58 home runs and 378 RBI. The Tigers are averaging 6.9 runs and 10.9 hits per game this season. The offense is led by junior first baseman Ben Paulsen (.368, 11 HR, 55 RBI) and junior outfielder Wilson Boyd (.348, 3 HR, 41 RBI). Boyd was 6-for-13 with six RBI in three ACC Tournament games last week. Clemson has also gotten double figure home runs from sophomore outfielders Kyle Parker (.268, 12 HR, 50 RBI) and Jeff Schaus (.329, 11 HR, 53 RBI). The pitching staff is 40-19 with a 3.68 ERA this season.  The staff has one complete game and three shutouts.  The shutouts came against Charlotte (Feb. 21), Presbyterian (March 17) and USC Upstate (March 18).  Sophomore lefty Casey Harman (20 G, 11 GS, 7-3, 3.86 ERA) and freshman lefty Chris Dwyer (15 GS, 4-5, 5.30 ERA) are a combined 11-8 (.579) in 35 appearances, including 26 starts this season. The duo has worked 147 2/3 innings and recorded 132 strikeouts. They have yielded 46 extra base hits, including 21 home runs. Clemson's staff has surrendered 145 extra base hits, including 76 doubles and 55 home runs. The Tigers have 13 saves as a staff, but no reliever has more than four saves. Senior right-hander Matt Vaughn (19 G, 3-1, 2.67 ERA, 4 SV) and junior right-hander Tomas Cruz (22 G, 2-3, 3.51 ERA, 4 SV) have four saves each. Clemson has 11 pitchers with 10 or more appearances this season. The Tigers are solid on defense with a .967 fielding mark (75 errors). Clemson ranks among the national leaders with 59 double plays in 59 games.
CLEMSON NOTES: Alabama has a 12-11 lead in the series with the Tigers ... However, Clemson has won four of six previous NCAA Tournament meetings with the Crimson Tide ... Clemson has not faced either Alabama nor Oklahoma State since 1996.  Ironically, both of those meetings in 1996 took place in back-to-back games in the College World Series.  The Tigers defeated Oklahoma State 8-5 in 10 innings in an elimination game, then they topped top-ranked Alabama 14-13 in another elimination game in one of the most-thrilling games in Clemson baseball history ... Clemson has a long history with Alabama in the NCAA Tournament that dates to its first game in the event in 1947.  Alabama downed the Tigers 8-2 in the regional tournament in Charlotte, NC, but the Tigers came back to defeat the Crimson Tide twice by scores of 1-0 and 4-1  to reach the final eight of the tournament.  The Tigers lost at Yale (which featured first-baseman George H.W. Bush) in the next round, keeping Clemson from a berth in the then four-team College World Series ... The Tigers defeated Alabama 7-4 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the 1995 NCAA Tournament to clinch a berth to Omaha as well ... Clemson is making its 34th NCAA Regional appearance, including its 22nd in the last 23 years.  Clemson's 34 regional appearances are sixth-most in NCAA history.  One school on that list ahead of Clemson is Oklahoma State, who will be playing in its 37th all-time tournament, fourth-best in NCAA history ... The Cowboys have been to the College World Series 19 times, tied for fifth-most in NCAA history ... Clemson has been to the College World Series 11 times, 11th-best nationally ... The Tigers have a 97-70 record in the NCAA Tournament overall and need three wins to reach the 100-win mark in their history ... This year's Clemson team enters the NCAA Tournament with a 40-19 record.  The Tigers have won 15 of their last 20 games and have eight wins over top-25 teams, including six against teams ranked in the top five in the nation ... That includes a 4-3 win in 11 innings over #4 North Carolina in its most recent game in the ACC Tournament ... Alabama and Clemson have played two common opponents this season - South Carolina and Georgia ... Alabama was 2-1 against Georgia, while Clemson went 0-2 ... Alabama was 0-1 against South Carolina, while Clemson was 1-3 against the Gamecocks.

ALABAMA VS. ACC: Alabama owns a 70-63-1 record against the current members or the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Crimson Tide has played at least one game against nine of the 12 schools. Alabama and Georgia Tech have met the most, with the majority of the 59 meetings coming while Tech was a member of the SEC. Alabama owns a winning record against Clemson (12-11), Georgia Tech (30-28-1), Miami, Fla. (9-6), North Carolina State (2-1), Virginia (1-0), Virginia Tech (8-3) and Wake Forest (3-0). The Tide has a losing record against Florida State (1-6) and North Carolina (4-8). The Tide has never faced Boston College, Duke or Maryland in baseball.

CLEMSON CONNECTIONS: Alabama freshman pitcher Adam Morgan, Clemson freshman infielder Jason Stolz and junior infielder Ben Paulsen all attended Kell High School in Marietta, Ga.  Morgan and Stolz were in the same graduating class (2008) and lived on the same street growing up.  The have been friends since first playing little league baseball together when they were six years old.  Paulsen is two years older than Morgan and Stolz and was a senior when the duo were sophomores in 2006.

MORE ALABAMA-CLEMSON TIES: A total of 16 former football players and coaches share Alabama-Clemson ties ... There have been five Alabama graduates serve as head coach at Clemson, including Frank Howard (1940-69), Hootie Ingram (1970-72), Charley Pell (197-78), Danny Ford (1979-89) and Dabo Swinney (2008-Present). Swinney's current staff contains five former Alabama players and/or coaches, including Charlie Harbison, Kevin Steele and Danny Pearman.

Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett

On his young team being tested
"We have come a long way since the beginning of this season.  Hopefully we can keep it up.  We will definitely be tested this weekend.  Tennessee Tech is coming off of a tournament win and are playing very well right now.  We are going to have to play our best to win."

On lineup
"We are figuring out our strengths and weaknesses.  We do have some power in there, but we don't rely on that.  We want to have good, consistent hitting."

On Tennessee Tech
"They have a great lefthanded pitcher who is a senior.  He has the best arm on the staff and he will be a big challenge.  They also do a good job behind the plate and holding runners on.  They finished their season strong."

On #4-seeds
"The competition is always heightened...they are always formidable opponents.  They come in with a very relaxed atmosphere.  It will be a tough game."

On Trey Delk
"He is a very consistent pitcher for us.  He had a back injury earlier in the season and he is getting stronger now.  He has poise and seriousness about what he does."

On the ACC Tournament
"We did a good job coming back.  I thought we only had a few bad innings during the tournament.  The way we played against North Carolina, I couldn't have been happier to get the win."

On NCAA Regional success
"I think we are very comfortable here.  Usually when you get a regional, it means that you have a good enough team.  We have a great atmosphere and fans here.  You have to go out on the field and play ball and prove that you earned it."

On his pitching staff
"We have a lot of depth and versatility this year.  They are in shape and know their roles.  We have done a nice job against tough pitching."

On using several guys
"They all had to play their roles against North Carolina because we were trying to get the win.  We were not just trying to get work for our pitchers.  It worked out that we were able to get them work while also getting the win."

ALABAMA-TENNESSEE TECH SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee Tech  4-1. The series dates back to 1965, when the Crimson Tide posted a 15-6 win. Alabama won the first four meetings in the series, including a two-game sweep in 1992 and a win in 1994. Tennessee Tech posted its first series win over Alabama on March 7, 2007 with an 8-6 win in Tuscaloosa.

TENNESSEE TECH SCOUTING REPORT: Tennessee Tech (30-22, 10-11 OVC) captured the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.  The Golden Eagles finished fifth in the standings with a 10-11 regular-season record. Tennessee Tech brings a four-game winning streak to Clemson. The Golden Eagles are hitting .293 (491-for-1,675) with 49 home runs and 290 RBI in 53 games. Tech averages 6.2 runs and 9.3 hits per game. Sophomore outfielder Casanova Donaldson (.351, 2 HR, 18 RBI) paced the Golden Eagles with a .351 average this season. The lineup also boasts a pair of standout two-way players in sophomore center fielder/left-hand pitcher Chad Oberacker and sophomore first baseman/right-hand pitcher A.J. Kirby-Jones. Oberacker hit .348 (64-for-148) with four home runs and 26 RBI in 47 games.  Kirby-Jones hit .344 (64-for-186) with 20 home runs and 66 RBI in 53 games. He was one of three players to start all 53 games. His 20 home runs paced the club, while the rest of the Tech roster swatted 29 home runs. Oberacker (8 G, 7 GS, 2-3, 7.29 ERA) pitched 31 2/3 innings on the mound, while Kirby-Jones (18 G, 4 GS, 3-3, 3 SV, 5.51 ERA) was third on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. On the mound Tech is 30-22 with a 5.45 ERA.  The staff has added nine complete games, six saves and three shutouts. Junior right-hander Lee Henry (19 G, 6 GS, 9-2, 2.96 ERA) led the staff with 76 innings and 74 strikeouts.  He registered five complete games in his six starts on the mound.  Senior lefty Ryan Dennick (20 G, 4 GS, 4-2, 3.74 ERA) logged 65 innings and recorded 53 strikeouts.  On defense, Tech made 76 errors (1.4 per game) in 53 games and compiled a .961 fielding mark.  Tech also turned 38 double plays.

TENNESSEE TECH NOTES: The tournament marks the fourth time in Tennessee Tech history that the Golden Eagles have advanced to the NCAA Regional, going in 1956, 1997 and 2001 ... Tennessee Tech is 2-6 all time in the NCAA Tournament, and won one regional game in each of its last two appearances, beating Ohio State in 1997, and Wake Forest in 2001 ... The Golden Eagles are 3-3 this season against NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Tech swept a two-game series from Georgia State in Cookeville, and took one game from Southern Mississippi in a three-game series to wrap up the regular season ... Tech also lost to Middle Tennessee State in late February ... Tech earned a berth into the NCAA tournament by going a perfect 4-0 in the OVC tournament in Paducah, Ky. last week, capping off its tournament championship with a pair of 10-inning victories against Jacksonville State on Friday and Saturday to capture the crown ... A.J. Kirby-Jones was the MVP of the 2009 OVC Tournament last week ... Alabama and Tennessee Tech have played four common opponents this season, including Tennessee, SE Missouri State, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State ... The Crimson Tide posted an 8-2 record against those four teams, while Tech compiled a 7-4 record against the four teams.

ALABAMA VS. OVC: Alabama owns a lopsided 55-15 record against the teams from the Ohio Valley Conference, including a 2-2 record this season. The Crimson Tide opened the season by losing two of three to Southeast Missouri State, its fourth season-opening series loss in the last five years. The Tide wrapped up its non-conference slate with an 8-4 win over Jacksonville State on May 12. Alabama has played at least one game against eight of the nine teams and owns a winning record against all eight teams. Alabama holds winning record against Jacksonville State (22-7), Murray State (8-1), SE Missouri (7-4), Austin Peay (6-0), Morehead State (5-1), Tennessee Tech (4-1), Eastern Kentucky (2-1) and Eastern Illinois (1-0).  The Tide has never faced Tennessee Martin.

Tennessee Tech Head Coach Matt Bragga

On being a "Cinderella Team"
"Yeah, you could say that.  We don't look at it that way.  It is definitely going to be a great challenge, but I think our guys are up for the challenge.  We are just excited to be here."

On their fourth NCAA Tournament berth
"We are very proud to make it here.  Especially this season, we have been through a lot of adversity and had to overcome injuries.  I believe we were 1-7 in conference play at one point, but we came together and turned our season around and finished the season off 14-3 in conference play."

On Message to his team
"We expect to win.  I don't think you should be coaching if you don't expect to win.  We certainly have great respect for the teams that are here.  They all have been to many regionals and this is our fourth, they have each been to the College World Series and we never have.  So we have great respect for the teams that we are playing."

On using Fresno State as an example
"We have not used them in any speeches yet, but our guys understand that once it is done by someone, then there are usually other teams that follow.  It definitely is a good example for us."