<
>

Tourney primer: Texas A&M Aggies

Record: 40-19-1, 18-12-1 Big 12, 9-1 last 10

Beat: Baylor (3X: 4-2, 4-3, 5-3), Washington State (2X: 4-3, 6-5), Texas Tech (2X: 6-3, 5-4), Oklahoma (6-2), Kansas State (2X: 10-2, 3-2), Texas (9-3), Texas State (6-2), Rice (7-1)

Lost to: Baylor (2X:13-1, 2-1), Washington State (7-5), Texas Tech (13-7), Oklahoma (2X: 6-5, 10-2), Kansas State (8-7), Texas (series sweep, 26-3 combined score), Texas State (6-5), TCU (6-1), Stephen F. Austin (7-6), Western Kentucky (5-1)

Key players:

Senior shortstop Brodie Greene -- .392, leads team in runs (67), hits (96), doubles (16), triples (7), home runs (12), RBIs (50), slugging percentage (.661) and walks (22), is tied for lowest strikeouts (26) of players who started at least 35 games, 23 of 28 stolen base attempts, started all 60 games

Senior designated hitter Joe Patterson -- .356, second on team in runs (43), hits (83), doubles (15), RBIs (41), leads team in strikeouts (56), .986 fielding percentage

Senior catcher Kevin Gonzales -- .310, third on team in hits (54), 33 RBIs, 26 strikeouts, leads team in fielding percentage (.994)

Starting rotation:

Freshman RHP Michael Wacha -- 8-2, 2.42 ERA, only started nine games, but has pitched 100.1 innings (leads team), 94 strikeouts to just 21 walks, .207 opponent's batting average

Junior RHP Barret Loux -- 10-2, 2.53 ERA, 126 strikeouts to 32 walks, .196 opponent's batting average

Sophomore RHP Ross Stripling -- 6-3, 3.80 ERA, allowed 90 hits and 10 home runs in 83 IP, 80 strikeouts to 24 walks

Senior RHP Clayton Ehlert -- 4-6, 5.21 ERA, two complete games, allowed 83 hits in 76 IP

Most used relievers:

Senior RHP Shane Minks -- 2-2, 3.74 ERA, 22 appearances, no starts, 33.2 IP, allowed 37 hits, but only one home run

Junior RHP Nick Fleece -- 1-2, 4.09 ERA, five starts, 33 IP, allowed 43 hits

Sophomore RHP John Stilson -- 8-1, 0.87 ERA, 31 appearances, no starts, 72.1 IP, nine saves, 106 strikeouts to 20 walks

Will move on if:

As a team, they play to their potential and continue their streak. The Aggies are a solid, old-school baseball team that relies on two extremely good starters, a third good one, a decent fourth, then a couple of relievers to get them to a deadly closer in Stilson. Their offense is produced mostly through Greene's tremendous stat line and Patterson's bat, though Caleb Shofner and Gonzales both bring something to the table as well. They need all four of those players to produce in the tournament, plus a couple of others in their lineup must rise to the occasion. The Aggies overcame a very tough schedule with some easier games down the stretch, before showing what they were capable of in the Big 12 tournament. If they play like that, Miami and FIU will be overmatched.

Could be trouble if:

The ACC really is that good. On paper, Miami is a very similar team to Texas A&M with slightly worse pitching. However, the Hurricanes beat a lot of very good baseball teams and have a much better reputation nationally from being a NCAA tournament team year-in and year-out. If the competition in the ACC (which had eight NCAA bids) is that much better than the Big 12 (which had five), then Miami should be better tested for the tournament, but it will need every bit of its home-field advantage to hold off the Aggies. Florida International could catch either of the top seeds in the region looking ahead, but it isn't on the same level as A&M and the Hurricanes.

First game: Friday, 11 a.m. vs. No. 3 Florida International at Coral Gables, Fla. (ESPNU)

Tourney primers will conclude Wednesday with Baylor and Rice before region previews on Thursday.