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April 18, 2007

Look ahead: Ackley leads Tar Heels

When it comes to college baseball this weekend, it doesn't get any bigger than the Sunshine State series between ACC leaders North Carolina and Florida State.

The Tar Heels hope to make an impression after a midweek loss to Campbell, while the Seminoles hope to build on an impressive 35-4 overall record.

Series of the Week:
UNC at Florida State

Another ACC series to watch is Virginia at Clemson.

The Tigers are looking for an impressive series win, while Virginia hopes to gain ground in the ACC Coastal Division.

Another southern series to watch is South Carolina-Ole Miss.

The Gamecocks took care of Auburn last week, while the Rebels took a step back with a series loss to LSU and a midweek loss to arch-rival Mississippi State.

The Oklahoma State-Texas A&M series is garnering headlines in the Lone Star State, while the Grand Canyon State braces for the series between opportunistic Louisiana-Lafayette and hard-hitting Arizona State.

Series to Watch
No. 5 North Carolina (32-7) at No. 2 Florida State (35-4)
Site: Tallahassee, Fla.
When: Fri., 7 p.m., Sat., 1 p.m., Sun., 12:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Why to watch: With two of the nation's top teams battling in the Sunshine State, it doesn't get much bigger than this in the ACC. While North Carolina hopes to bounce back from a midweek loss to Campbell, the Seminoles hope to continue their winning ways after sweeping Virginia Tech last week. Both the Tar Heels and Noles have a potent offense, but pitching will be the key this weekend.
Who to watch, North Carolina: Pitcher Robert Woodard
When the Tar Heels need a clutch start, they look to the senior right-hander to provide the fireworks. Woodard has had quite the career in Chapel Hill and hopes to carry UNC the distance once again this weekend. The righty is a perfect 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 59 innings. He has also struck out 43 and walked 12.
Who to watch, Florida State: Second baseman Tony Thomas Jr.
There's not a more dynamic player in the country than the junior infielder. Thomas Jr. has put together a banner season for the Seminoles. The veteran enters the UNC series hitting an impressive .467 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs. He's also slugging .782 and has an amazing .545 on-base percentage.
No. 21 Oklahoma State (27-9) at No. 11 Texas A&M (31-8)
Site: College Station, Texas
When: Fri., 7:30 p.m., Sat., 2 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m. (Eastern)
Why to watch: With the Aggies and Cowboys engaged in a huge series in the Lone Star State and Texas traveling to Nebraska, many eyes will be on the Big 12 this weekend. Following a series win over surprising Kansas State, the Cowboys hope to add another series win to their resume this weekend. While OSU pushes forward, Texas A&M has confidence after taking two of three from Missouri.
Who to watch, Oklahoma State: Pitcher Jeff Breedlove
If the Cowboys are going to take care of business during the next two weeks, coach Frank Anderson believes the sophomore right-hander could be the key. Breedlove hasn't thrown a lot of innings this spring, but is a guy the Cowboys believe in. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. He has also struck out 15.
Who to watch, Texas A&M: Pitcher Kyle Nicholson
The Aggies have put on an offensive show this season, but the most impressive performance of any player on the team might be that of the senior right-hander. In his final season with the Aggies, Nicholson is tallying impressive numbers. The veteran is 8-1 with a 1.14 ERA in 71 1/3 innings. He has also struck out 53.
No. 4 South Carolina (29-8) at No. 17 Ole Miss (25-14)
Site: Oxford, Miss.
When: Fri., 7:30 p.m., Sat., 2 p.m., Sun., 5 p.m. (Eastern)
Why to watch: The potent Gamecocks have an SEC title on their mind and this weekend, they head to Oxford to face a motivated Ole Miss team. While the Gamecocks took two of three from Auburn at home last weekend, the Rebels dropped a pair of road games to LSU. The Rebels are also hoping to bounce back from a midweek loss to arch-rival Mississippi State. This is a huge series for both teams.
Who to watch, South Carolina: Third baseman James Darnell
The hard-hitting sophomore has put together an offensive show this season. Darnell enters the week hitting a team-high .359 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs. The infielder also has a .695 slugging percentage and an impressive .472 on-base percentage. Additionally, Darnell has five doubles and 89 total bases.
Who to watch, Ole Miss: Pitcher Will Kline
The Rebels are in need of a positive weekend and the junior right-hander has the ability to provide some fireworks. Kline enters the week 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 71 innings. The veteran has also struck out 79 and walked 23, while opponents are hitting him at a .217 clip. In 10 appearances, Kline has one complete game.
No. 3 Virginia (32-8) at No. 16 Clemson (25-10)
Site: Clemson, S.C.
When: Fri., 7:15 p.m., Sat., 7 p.m., Sun., 1 p.m. (Eastern)
Why to watch: Outside of the North Carolina-Florida State showdown, there's not a more important series in the ACC this weekend than Virginia and Clemson. The Cavaliers hope to add to an already impressive resume, while Clemson hopes to record a marquee series victory. With both teams jockeying for position in the postseason race, this series looms large for the national picture.
Who to watch, Virginia: Pitcher Jacob Thompson
The sophomore right-hander is one of the top arms in the country and the nation has taken notice this spring. Thompson enters the week with impressive numbers. The righty is a perfect 8-0 with a 1.32 ERA in 68 innings. He has also struck out 70 and walked 18, while opponents are hitting him at a .192 clip.
Who to watch, Clemson: Outfielder Brad Chalk
The junior outfielder is the table setter for the Clemson lineup. And if the Tigers are going to take care of Virginia this weekend, Chalk must be on his game. The veteran enters the week hitting a team-leading .416 with 13 RBIs. He also has eight doubles and 55 total bases. Additionally, Chalk has swiped eight bases.
Louisiana-Lafayette (29-9) at No. 10 Arizona State (29-10)
Sites: Tempe, Ariz.
When: Fri., 10 p.m., Sat., 9 p.m., Sun., 4 p.m. (Eastern)
Why to watch: After dropping a game to Tulane and winning two of three at Troy last week, the Ragin' Cajuns hope to make a bigger imprint this weekend. The Cajuns head west to face the hard-hitting Sun Devils. While Louisiana-Lafayette needs to make a statement this weekend, the Devils hope to gain momentum. With the postseason a month away, this series could tell us a lot about both teams.
Who to watch, Louisiana-Lafayette: Pitcher Buddy Glass
When the Ragin' Cajuns want to set the table for the weekend, they look to the junior right-hander to assume the lead role. Glass has put together an impressive spring for the Cajuns. The righty enters the week 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 67 innings. He has also struck out 54 and walked 17, while opponents are hitting .257.
Who to watch, Arizona State: First baseman Brett Wallace
It should come as no surprise, but Wallace is the leader of the Arizona State lineup. When the Devils need a key hit, Wallace is the guy they look to. The sophomore enters the week hitting a team-high .447 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs. He also has a .770 slugging percentage and a .530 on-base percentage.