What you need to know about the teams in Notre Dame's NCAA South Bend baseball regional

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame’s hosting an NCAA Tournament regional in baseball for the first time since 2004.

The Irish, besides being the nation’s overall No. 10 seed in a 64-team field, are the top seed within the regional, joined by No. 2 Connecticut, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Central Michigan for the double-elimination event.

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The winner of the South Bend Regional advances to a June 11-14 super regional, which will be a best-of-three series against the Starkville Regional winner, site to be determined. The Starkville field features No. 7 overall seed Mississippi State.

The super regional survivor earns one of eight spots in the College World Series, to be contested June 19-30 in Omaha, Neb.

Here's a look at the teams:

NOTRE DAME (30-11)

Irish hitting leaders include Ryan Cole (5 homers, 20 RBIs, .309 average, .463 slugging percentage), Carter Putz (3, 34, .309, .463), Penn High product Niko Kavadas (16, 49, .288, .691), Jack Brannigan (5, 25, .282, .463) Brooks Coetzee (3, 23, .275, .425) and Jared Miller (4, 21, .274, .487). Kavadas’ 16 homers ranks 22nd in the country. The Irish have hit 45 as a team. They’re also 59-of-80 stealing bases, paced by Coetzee’s 11-of-12.

Notre Dame is the nation’s No. 1 team in fielding percentage at .985.

Regular starting pitchers have included John Michael Bertrand (7-2, 3.33 ERA) and Will Mercer (3-2, 4.81). The Irish have gotten distinguished quality and length from their bullpen. Tanner Kohlhepp is 7-1 with a 2.88 over 21 appearances and 56.1 innings. Aidan Tyrell is 3-1 with a 3.02 while splitting time as a starter and reliever. Alex Rao is 2-1 with a 2.60 in 34.2 innings, and Liam Simon 5-1 with a 3.20. Eleven pitchers have started for the Irish, and seven have earned saves.

Notre Dame, which received an at-large bid, was the ACC regular-season champion at 25-10 and has won 12 of its last 15 games.

The Irish are making their first NCAA Tourney appearance since 2015. The program’s last regional title came in 2002, a year in which ND also hosted.

Notre Dame is coached by Link Jarrett, 41-13 in his second season at the school.

CONNECTICUT (33-17)

Huskie hitting leaders include Kyler Fedko (12, 53, .411, .697), who is 11th in the nation in batting average, Erik Stock (4, 28, .337, .503), David Langer (2, 9, .319, .464), Chris Winkel (11, 32, .311, .555), Pat Winkel (11, 42, .290, .544) and Reggie Crawford (11, 56, .288, .520). UConn has slugged 62 homers as a team and is 61-of-77 stealing bases, led by Crawford’s 16-of-17.

The Huskies are fielding at a collective 973 clip.

Connecticut starting pitcher Austin Peterson, a Chesterton, Ind. native, is expected to pitch against Michigan in the NCAA tournament opener at Notre Dame's South Bend Regional Friday, June 4, 2021

Starting pitchers include Austin Peterson (7-1, 2.65) — a native of Chesterton, Ind., who was a freshman standout at Purdue in 2019 before transferring to Wabash Valley Community College in Illinois and later UConn — along with Ben Casparius (8-4, 3.07 with 123 strikeouts in 88 innings) and Pat Gallagher (5-1, 4.01). Closer Caleb Wurster is 4-1 with nine saves and a 1.64 ERA. He has struck out 50 over 38.1 innings, but also hit 10 batters and served up five homers.

UConn, the Big East’s regular-season percentage champ at 13-4 as well as its tournament champion, the latter good for an automatic bid, was 16-1 at home this season, but just 17-16 in away and neutral-site games.

The Huskies are making their third straight NCAA Tourney appearance. Their last regional title came in 2011.

UConn is coached by Jim Penders, 605-412-5 in his 18th year at the school.

MICHIGAN (27-17)

Wolverine hitting leaders include Ted Burton (6, 27, .355, .673), who ranks second in the Big Ten in slugging percentage, Tito Flores (6, 36, .327, .545), Benjamin Sems (6, 30, .321, .494), Clark Elliott (5, 22, .285, .451), Christian Molfetta (6, 29, .284, .472) and Jimmy Obertop (10, 33, .272, .544). Michigan has connected on 55 homers as a team and is 53-of-73 stealing bases.

The Wolverines own a .972 fielding percentage as a team.

Starting pitchers include Cameron Weston (7-3, 2.40 ERA), Steven Hajar (4-1, 2.85 with 101 strikeouts in 75.2 innings) and Jacob Denner (4-4, 4.38). Reliever Willie Weiss is 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA and five saves. He has fanned 38 and walked 12 in 25.1 innings.

Michigan, like the rest of the league, played strictly a Big Ten schedule during the regular season. The Wolverines finished third in the conference and earned one of the NCAA selection committee’s final four at-large spots.

UM, besides being national runner-up in 2019 (there was no tournament last year), won national titles in 1953 and 1962.

The Wolverines are coached by Erik Bakich, 293-186-1 in his ninth year at the school.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (40-16)

Chippewa hitting leaders include Zach Gilles (0, 39, .361, .444), Mario Camilletti (2, 43, .330, .449), Justin Simpson (0, 44, .316, .419), Zach Heeke (3, 30, .299, .419), Garrett Navarra (2, 37, .288, .379) and Jakob Marsee (4, 29, .284, .412). Central Michigan has hit just 15 homers all season, but is also 73-of-88 stealing bases, led by Gilles’ 21-of-24.

The Chippewas have compiled a .973 fielding percentage.

Redshirt freshman Andrew Taylor — second in the nation in earned run average at 1.21 — is CMU’s ace with an 11-3 record and 120 strikeouts against 23 walks over 89.1 innings. Jordan Patty is 8-2 with a 2.58 ERA across 14 starts, and Cameron Brown 7-4 with a 4.31. Central’s team ERA of 3.30 is almost three runs’ better than its opponents’ 6.28.

The Chippewas won the Mid-American Conference at 31-9 to earn an automatic NCAA Tourney bid. Central has won eight straight games and is 32-8 in its last 40 after beginning the season 8-8.

CMU is making its second straight NCAA Tourney appearance after not making one since 1995. The Chippewas have never won a regional.

Central Michigan is coached by Jordan Bischel, who is 98-36 in his third year at the school.