Auburn's first opponent in the Tallahassee Regional is the College of Charleston Cougars. The Cougars are the Colonial Athletic Association regular season champs and felt that they deserved to host a regional. Here's the tale of the tape:
College of Charleston 43-13 overall, 21-3 CAA, RPI #18; USA Today #15; Baseball America #18; #13 NCBWA
Auburn 35-24 overall; 13-17 SEC RPI #22
Against common opponents (South Carolina, Radford)
Against teams in the NCAA Tournament
Charleston (UNCW, Radford, Clemson, Indiana) 7-5
Auburn (Radford, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Vandy, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Florida) 10-14
Notably, Auburn played fifteen games against teams hosting regionals. We went 4-11 but man that's a brutal schedule.
College of Charleston in the Field
Two things jump out at you immediately when you look at Charleston's season stats. First, their lineup is stable. Only ten Cougars have more that one start. Only fourteen Cougars have offensive stats at all and only ten have more than 20 at bats this year. Second, it's consistent top to bottom. Eight Cougars have an average over .290. There aren't many weak links.
In addition to hitting for average, the Cougars also hit for power. Seven Cougars have more home runs than anyone on Auburn's squad. The Cougar's best player is Blake Butler who was named the Colonial's player of the year and defensive player of the year. Butler led the team with a .338 average and 12 home runs. Junior third baseman Carl Wise was also named first team all Colonial batting .311 with 11 home runs. First baseman Nick Pappas was named second team all conference, batting .330 with 9 home runs.
It's easy to write these numbers off as they were put up against guys who will be bagging groceries in three weeks but this is a legitimately talented offensive team that will challenge Cole Lipscomb. Outside of LSU, they may have the most consistently talented offensive lineup we've faced this season.
College of Charleston on the Mound
Much like their offense, Charleston only has a few quality starting pitchers but man are they good. Two of their pitchers were named all-Colonial. Taylor Clarke is the Colonial pitcher of the year. Clarke has nasty stuff, with a 1.34 ERA. Opposing batters average .178 against Clarke. He averages more than a strikeout per inning. Brandon Glazer, the Cougars #2 starter is also all-conference. If the Cougars get a lead on you, they have a solid closer to end the game. Freshman Carter Love finished second team all conference with a 1.70 ERA.
Charleston doesn't have much depth on the mound so if they slip up and lose one of the first two games, they're going to have a hard time coming out of the losers bracket to win the tournament. But, if Clarke freezes the Tigers and Glazer wins game two, this team has a chance to go to Omaha.