Sam Houston is a bit of the "Other Team" in this regional, which is kind of unfair. LSU is the host favorite, ULL is the 2nd seeded "little brother" rival, and Jackson State is the longshot underdog. But Sam Houston is a team in search of identity.
Sam Houston State
Record: 37-20 (20-7), 1st in the Southland
Odds of winning regional*: 1.5%
*According to boydsworld.com ISR projections
Sam Houston is a well-balanced team that doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well. They can't hit like ULL, but they still have a decent offense They aren't a great pitching team, but they are better than anyone in the regional not named the Tigers. This is just a solid team that well beat you if you don't play you're game.
What Pretentious Indie Band They Resemble: Tokyo Police Club. Solid, competent, but almost nobody's favorite band. They make a good album with the occasional catchy song, but nothing great or transcendent. I'm yet to meet a single person with a strong opinion for or against them, which is sort of what Sam Houston St is - a quality side that doesn't inspire passionate feelings on any side except for a small, dedicated few.
LHP Caleb Smith 7-5, 3.23 ERA, 86.1 IP, 68/56 K/BB
RHP Tyler Eppler 5-2, 3.41 ERA, 68.2 IP, 44/30 K/BB
LHP Cody Dickson 9-5, 4.33 ERA, 89.1 IP, 87/49 K/BB
There's no bona fide ace, but it's a deep staff and some really good arms out of the pen. They won't overpower you, and no one has great ratios, but this is just a quietly solid staff. This is a pitching staff that won't win you the game, but they won't lose it for you either. They will keep you in the game, which is pretty much all you can ask from your pitchers: to give you a chance to win.
3B Kevin Miller 338/392/404
C/1B Anthony Azar 309/380/490
2B Jessie Plumlee 313/429/405
Most of the home run power comes from the back of the order, as the middle of the order isn't that intimidating. Like the pitching staff, it's a lineup that doesn't scare you but at the same time gives you a chance to win. Sam Houston is a team that needs to play its best ball and needs you to not play your best in order to win.
How Can They Win?
By flying under the radar and hoping teams take them for granted. ULL is already saving their ace for the LSU game, assuming the win. I'm not big on the idea of disrespect, but I am big on the idea that opening the door to a team you don't completely overmatch might be a risky idea. The doors is open for Sam Houston to pull the upset, as they will avoid ULL's ace, they just have to take advantage of it. After that, maybe they catch lightning in a bottle and make a crazy run. Stranger things have happened...
How Will They Lose?
... but not many. Simply put, this team is not as good as ULL, much less LSU. They would need a minor miracle to advance, and miracles are a bad bet. Chances are, at least one of the Louisiana teams has a decent weekend, and that should be enough to send them home. A successful weekend for the Bearkats is making it to Sunday.