Know The Foe: Breaking Down LSU Baseball's Opponents in the Chapel Hill Regional

The LSU Tigers hit the road to North Carolina for Regionals this week, look to defend their crown in the NCAA Tournament.
May 24, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels pitcher Matthew Matthijs (24) is congratulated by pitcher Olin Johnson (31) after the seventh inning against the Wake Forest during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels pitcher Matthew Matthijs (24) is congratulated by pitcher Olin Johnson (31) after the seventh inning against the Wake Forest during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports / Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports

LSU Baseball (40-21), the 2023 national champions and 2024 SEC Tournament runners-up, earned its 37th NCAA Regional berth, it was announced by the NCAA on Monday morning.

The second-seeded Tigers will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the four-team, double-elimination tournament and face third-seeded Wofford (41-18, 12-8 Southern Conference) on Friday at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU.

On the other side in Chapel Hill will be host and national No. 4 seed North Carolina along with regional fourth-seed Long Island (LIU). The Tar Heels and Sharks will square off at 5 p.m. CT on Friday on ESPN+.

LSU has never faced Wofford nor LIU on the baseball diamond. The most recent of five all-time meetings between LSU and North Carolina was in the 2013 College World Series.

Let's take a look into the North Carolina Regional and what to expect from the four programs (all statistics per NCAA.com):

No. 1 Seed: North Carolina Tar Heels (42-13 overall, 22-8 in ACC)

May 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels pitcher Jason DeCaro (29) statrts the first inning against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels pitcher Jason DeCaro (29) statrts the first inning against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports / Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC regular season champions earned the No. 4 overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament with the chance to carry its success into postseason ball.

A program that provides a balanced attack in all facets of the game, their pitching is a piece that gives them that extra boost led by aces Jason DeCaro and Shea Sprague.

Get to Know the Aces: DeCaro and Sprague

The Tar Heels rank No. 14 in ERA, No. 35 in WHIP, No. 52 in hits allowed per nine innings and have two shutouts on the season, but their one-two punch on the mound has helped in a big way this season.

DeCaro... The true freshman righty comes into the NCAA Tournament with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts with 64 strikeouts and 34 walks in Year 1 with the Tar Heels.

Sprague... The veteran in the North Carolina pitching rotation came in from Elon during the offseason and burst on the scene fast. A right-handed pitcher, Sprague started 12 games during the 2024 season with a 4.02 ERA. The walk to strikeout ratio is impressive for Sprague with just 14 walks on the year to 55 strikeouts.

The Sluggers: Casey Cooks and Vance Honeycutt

The Tar Heels are a program that doesn't provide flare at the plate, but their patience is what has allowed them to be successful. After ranking Top 25 in home runs and batting average, they're impressive at getting on base at an efficient rate while utilizing a touch of power at times.

Their two power hitters come in Casey Cooks and Vance Honeycutt. The tandem was named to the All-ACC first team with slugging percentages of .688 and .699, respectively.

No. 3 Seed: Wofford Terriers (41-18, 12-8 in Southern Conference)

The Wofford Terriers took on the  Samford Bulldogs for the Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Greenville's  Fluor Field on May 27, 2023. This is game 2; Samford would go on to win the game and the Southern Conference Baseball Championship.
The Wofford Terriers took on the Samford Bulldogs for the Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Greenville's Fluor Field on May 27, 2023. This is game 2; Samford would go on to win the game and the Southern Conference Baseball Championship. / ALEX HICKS JR./STAFF / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Wofford Terriers fought in order to get to the NCAA Tournament after winning seven games in just five days to take home the Southern Conference Tournament Championship last week.

LSU will face off against the Terriers on Friday with many capable of overlooking the opponent. Wofford is as impressive as it gets at the plate and has proven that towards the backend of the season.

Success at the Plate: Marshall Toole is the name to know

If there is one player to keep tabs on ahead of Friday's showdown against Wofford, it's First-Team All-SoCon selection Marshall Toole.

The Terriers leadoff hitter attains a whopping .383 batting average with 15 doubles, 10 triples, nine home-runs, 37 walks and 42 stolen bases on 45 attempts this season.

He's Wofford's go-to guy when a big play is needed and will be a player to monitor in the lineup come Friday at 11a.m. CT.

More to Know: Batting Average and On-Base Percentage

Wofford comes in as the No. 3 program in America in batting average and on-base percentage, but when on-base, it's even more important to monitor the runners.

The Terriers are ninth in the country in stolen bases per game, largely in part because of Toole's success, but there are other impressive weapons.

Wofford will be a threat in the North Carolina Regional with patience at the plate, efficiency when on-base and a veteran lineup that is dialed in with postseason play in full swing.

No. 4 Seed: Long Island University (33-23 overall, 24-9 in Northeast Conference)

The Northeast Conference champions enter postseason play as a slept-on program after handling their opponents in the NEC Tournament last week.

With their backs against the wall, it took back-to-back victories over the top-seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

The Ace: Garrett Yawn

The first-team all-conference righty finished the 2024 season with 90.1 innings pitched, a 4.08 ERA, and 104 strikeouts. The strikeouts to walks ratio is impressive with only 42 walked batters on the year.

Yawn is their go-to guy and the program has heavily relied on him this season with a lack of bodies in the bullpen. It'll be a challenge against the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels on Friday, but their bats have an opportunity to come alive in Chapel Hill.

No. 2 seed LSU enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in America after a magical run in the SEC Tournament last week in Hoover. After reaching the SEC Tournament Championship, all focus is now on the Chapel Hill Regional.

The defending National Champions will begin their journey on Friday against the Wofford Terriers at 11a.m. CT. on ESPNU.

Other LSU News:

NCAA Tournament Bound: LSU Baseball's Regional Site Revealed on Monday

The Betting Odds: What are LSU's Chances of Winning the College World Series?

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Zack Nagy

ZACK NAGY

Zack Nagy is the Managing Editor and Publisher of LSU Country, a Sports Illustrated Publication. Nagy has covered Tiger Football, Basketball, Baseball and Recruiting, looking to keep readers updated on anything and everything involving LSU athletics.