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NCAA Baseball Tournament 2014: Key Players to Watch in Regionals

The NCAA Baseball Tournament's Regionals start this coming weekend, and these players could prove pivotal to their teams' successes, or lack thereof.

Stephen Dunn

With the 2014 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament come and gone, the attention shifts over towards making a run to Omaha and the College World Series. To get there though, the 64-team field has to sink their teeth in and chew their way through the Regional rounds. As we learned Sunday night, five SEC teams will play host during these regional rounds. Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and the back-to-back tournament champions LSU all will see their success during the season pay dividends by obtaining home field advantage through the Regionals round.

Rich with talent, the SEC is undoubtedly the best baseball conference in the land. Thus, it is not a surprise to see so many teams weave their way into the field of 64. With that said, here are some players you can keep your eye on this coming weekend in the Regionals.


Alabama: OF/C Ben Moore - We'll kick this list off with a member of the All-SEC Second Team. Outfielder and part-time catcher Ben Moore is coming off a season in which he played in all 56 games that the Crimson Tide played in. And while in the lineup, Moore made sure to make an impact. With a slash line of .305/.363/.486, 107 total bases and just 16 strikeouts in 220 at bats, Moore was one of the toughest outs in the Southeastern Conference in the 2014 season.

Arkansas: 1B Eric Fisher - Few first basemen were better than Spring, Texas' own Eric Fisher this season. The redshirt junior Razorback clubbed nine home runs and accumulated 99 total bases while slugging .465. In addition, Fisher collected 14 doubles in his 217 at-bats. Should he continue this type of success, Fisher will be a force to be reckoned with this coming weekend.

Florida: RHP Logan Shore - The SEC's Freshman of the Year lands his way into this discussion after a stellar first-year campaign. Right-handed pitcher Logan Shore joins Preston Tucker and Austin Maddox as fellow Gators who earned Freshman of the Year honors under manager Kevin O'Sullivan, and he certainly deserved it. In 10 games, Shore threw 41 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched and possessed an ERA of just 2.08.

Kentucky: DH/P A.J. Reed - A.J. Reed, the SEC Player of the Year, does quite a good job of double duty. Not only is Reed leading the country in home runs, SLG and OPS, he led the conference in runs batted in, on-base percentage, total bases and wins. Yes, that's right -- the leader in the nation in home runs moonlights as a pitcher as well, and does a darn good job at it too. The Wildcats run through Reed, and he'll be much needed when they take on Kansas in the first round of the Louisville regional.

LSU: RHP Aaron Nola - Right-hander Aaron Nola made history by becoming a two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year. No other pitcher in the league's rich history had ever accomplished such a feat and by the numbers, he's more than deserving of that honor. This season, the native of Baton Rouge led the conference in innings pitched (109), batting average allowed (.173) and strikeouts as well (127). In addition, Nola commands a 1.49 ERA and is coming off of a superb performance against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, allowing just two runs in 7.1 innings, tagging along with seven strikeouts.

Mississippi State: LHP Ross Mitchell - As the ace of the Bulldogs, Ross Mitchell is just part of what Mississippi State needs to make it back to the College World Series final. Last season, Mitchell was best remembered for throwing several shutout innings in relief to help the Dawgs advance to the Championship Series for the first time in their program's history. This season, the southpaw will be expected to do more of the same on a Bulldogs team that will need to snag some more luck again.

Ole Miss: OF Auston Bousfield - Outfielder Auston Bousfield was one of five Ole Miss Rebels to receive All-SEC honors this year. Playing in all 59 games that the Rebels were involved in during the 2014 season, Bousfield clubbed a .349 average in 249 at-bats. In addition, the Oakland, Fla. native possessed an OBP/SLG line of .397/.490 and went 16-for-17 on stolen base attempts.

South Carolina: 3B Joey Pankake - Junior third baseman Joey Pankake, who might have the best name of all players in the Southeastern Conference, was a selection for the All-Defensive team this past year for his work in the field. Pankake was one of three Gamecocks to join the All-Defensive team, recording 31 putouts, 78 assists and a Fld% of .932. Pankake has a good bat to go along with his defense, as he hit .307 with 11 doubles and five home runs in 54 games played. The Gamecocks will need their versatile hot corner defender to bring his glove -- and his bat -- along with him as the Gamecocks will remain home in Columbia for their Regional.

Texas A&M: OF Nick Banks - Freshman Nick Banks fell just shy of hauling in SEC Freshman of the Year honors, which of course went to RHP Logan Shore of Florida. But that's not to say Banks had a crumby year. In fact, just the opposite, as Banks finished the season ranked fifth in the conference in batting average at a torrid .348. Banks was fourth during conference play in batting average, hitting .360, and finished the season with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, six stolen bases and 28 runs scored.

Vanderbilt: 2B Dansby Swanson - Rounding out this list is Vanderbilt's second baseman Dansby Swanson. No relation to Ron, Dansby joined fellow teammates Vince Conde, Carson Fulmer and Bryan Reynolds in being recognized for the All-SEC team. Dansby and Conde were both selected to the first team after producting a healthy amount in the middle infield. The second baseman from Marietta, Ga. hit .336 in 226 at-bats to go along with 110 total bases, a SLG of .487 and an OBP of .414. All were team-highs for the Commodores.