No. 2 Ole Miss (37-22) vs. No. 3 William & Mary (37-22)
May 31 | 1 p.m. | Raleigh, N.C. | ESPN3UM Jr. RHP Mike Mayers (5-5, 2.98 ERA) vs. W&M So. LHP Jason Inghram (8-6, 3.46 ERA)
Mayers gets the ball in game one: Head coach Mike Bianco announced Tuesday that junior right-hander Mike Mayers will get the ball in game one against William & Mary, then follow with junior right-hander Bobby Wahl in game two of the Raleigh Regional.
"I don't think you really decide until the sites and brackets are announced and who you are going to play," head coach Mike Bianco said of the decision. "One of the things that we have said all week is the reason it's happening, It's not necessarily as much Bobby as it is Mike.
"Mike is as good as most guys' Friday night guy or ace. Having him makes the decision a lot easier because you have got to win the first game. So you have got to pitch a guy that can win you the first game, and we feel Mike is as good as most guys' Friday night guy and gives us a great opportunity to win on Friday."
Mayers enters the contest with a 5-5 record, 2.98 ERA and .231 opponents' batting average. He has 70 strikeouts against 31 walks in 87.2 innings of work. It will be his third career NCAA Tournament appearance, having made a start and relief appearance in the College Station Regional last year.
"Having Bobby in the rotation with me is a huge benefit to our team," Mayers said. "I enjoy the pressure, and obviously the bigger the game, the bigger the pressure. Right now, game one is the biggest game of the year."
Mayers will be opposed by William & Mary sophomore left-hander Jason Inghram. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder earned third team All-CAA honors and enters the contest with a 8-6 record, 3.46 ERA and .242 opponents' batting average. He has 96 strikeouts against 23 walks in 96.1 innings of work. Ole Miss is 10-14 against left-handed starters on the year.
"We know we're facing a lefty," junior catcher Stuart Turner said. "We have faced a lot of them this year. We kind of struggled with them a little bit. We like facing them now. So many (teams) threw them at us. I think we have made the adjustment. We're going to be ready for it."
Turner makes big difference: Stuart Turner earned All-SEC and All-American honors this past week. He was named an All-SEC First Team and Defensive Team selection on Tuesday, then a second team All-America selection on Thursday.
He leads the team in batting average (.381), doubles (15), home runs (5), RBI (50), on-base percentage (.452) and slugging percentage (.433). His .381 average ranks second in the SEC, and defensively, he has thrown out 21-of-41 runners on steal attempts.
"He's a difference-maker, as we've talked about all year," Bianco said. "People see the numbers and the catcher, and the batting average, the RBI, and certainly he's a force in our lineup. But the reason he's a true difference-maker is defensively, he's as good as they come.
"He's the best catch-and-throw guy that we have ever had. He's great with the pitchers, great receiver. He's going to block all the balls, of course. He can really get rid of the ball, very accurate, very strong arm and really defends the steal. To have that guy game in and game out for nine innings behind the plate has been a big difference for us."
This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance for Turner, and he said it's been just a lot of excitement since the selection show Monday.
"You come here, you want to make a region, win a regional, play in a super regional, win a super regional," Turner said. "That selection show was the first time I had been through that.
"Just to hear our name and hear where we're going, just to officially start the Road to Omaha, it's been a great ride so far. This regular season has been great. Ready to get it started now, and get ready to go to the postseason."
More from Turner here.
Fresh start for Bousfield: Sophomore center fielder Auston Bousfield is 1-for-32 in his most recent at-bats, dating back to game three of the Mississippi State series. Head coach Mike Bianco said the message to Bousfield has been to just stay positive.
"He's obviously had a tough couple of weeks," Bianco said. "But he's a guy that's our guy, a guy that's been there all year long. Baseball's a tough game. There are times where you don't feel good. There are times where you don't have success. And mentally, it can really cripple you. You just got to stay positive.
"One of the good things about this is there really is a break. A lot of times when you're slumping, you talk to kids and say, 'Hey, turn the page, act like you're batting .000 now, let's start over.' But you can really do that in the postseason. You can really start anew, regardless if you're a position player or a pitcher."
Bousfield said he remains confident as he works on things, specifically shortening his swing, hitting the ball to the right and staying inside the ball.
"It's alright," Bousfield said of his confidence. "You really just got to keep playing for your team more than anything. The guys need me out there on defense. If I can't help with the bat, I always feel like I can help on defense. I got to keep working, and I'll get out of it eventually."
Bianco said Bousfield will be fine, noting his work in batting practice this week.
"This week, watching him take batting practice, he's looked terrific," Bianco said. "He swung it great today here on the field."
More from Bousfield here.
Other Notes And Quotes:
- Junior shortstop Austin Anderson missed Thursday's practice after getting sick with a stomach virus overnight. Bianco said he would be "shocked" if he didn't play tomorrow.
- "It would be a lot of fun, but first, we have to care of our game against William & Mary." -- Bobby Wahl, on possible matchup with North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon
- "I hope to see that. It will be a fun one, if it ends up happening." -- Carlos Rodon, on possible matchup with Bobby Wahl
- "I wouldn't call it small. It's more true, especially down the lines. Even with the wind blowing in, (Tanner) Mathis and (Will) Jamison hit a ball out today... It's a little more fair for the hitters. It's not as big as our park, but not as small as some others, very average." -- Mike Bianco, on Doak Field's dimensions (320-370-400-380-330)
- "It's going to be a good atmosphere. Last year, we had a great turnout at the Vanderbilt games. This year should be, hopefully, more. We'll see. We have got faithful Wolfpack fans out there. They're very active, very loud. You see them on the third-base line making noise, heckling a little bit, which I like, so we'll see how it goes." -- Rodon, on atmosphere for the Raleigh Regional