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NCAA Tournament Preview: A Quick Look At The Charlotte 49ers

Photo by Sam Roberts/Freeze Frame

Tennessee baseball is headed to the Clemson Regional to open the NCAA Tournament where they’ll face three-seed Charlotte to open the double elimination tournament.

An interesting note about the matchup between Tennessee and Charlotte is that Vols’ Friday night starter Andrew Lindsey played for the 49ers during the 2021 season.

Let’s take a look at Charlotte ahead of the first round matchup.

How The 49ers Got Here

The simple answer is by playing one week of very strong baseball. Charlotte tied for fifth in the Conference USA regular season and was the six-seed in the conference tournament. However, the 49ers got red-hot in the conference tournament and reeled off five straight wins to earn the CUSA automatic bid after dropping their first game of the conference tournament.

Charlotte got on a role right before the start of the CUSA Tournament as it won its final five regular season games including a win over South Carolina. But the 49ers struggled in the stretch before that, losing eight of their previous 11 games.

Robert Woodard’s third Charlotte team enters the NCAA Tournament with a 34-26 (17-12 CUSA) record and winners of 10 of its last 11 games.

Charlotte played eight games against power five opponents this season earning a 2-6 record. The 49ers won both midweek games against South Carolina, dropped a pair of midweek games against North Carolina, fell to Clemson in one meeting and dropped all three games in a weekend series against Virginia Tech.

Pitchers To Know

RHP Wyatt Hudepohl has been Charlotte’s Friday night starter all season and is the most likely candidate to get the ball against Tennessee in the regional opener. Hudepohl boasts a 6-6 record, 4.44 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 16 starts this season.

The junior from Cincinnati has struck out 118 batters and walked only 26 in 97.1 innings pitched this season.

In his lone start against a power five opponent this season, Hudepohl allowed 10 hits and nine earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched against Virginia Tech. The junior has gone eight-plus innings three times this season including 8.1 scoreless innings against Rice and a complete game while allowing two earned runs against Old Dominion.

RHP Cameron Hansen (3-1, 4.54 ERA) and LHP Collin Kramer (6-4, 4.55) ERA are also options for Charlotte to use against Tennessee. The Vols have struggled against left-handed pitching this season and Kramer has been effective in three, albeit shorter, outings in midweeks against power five opponents.

Charlotte Bats To Know

Charlotte’s offense starts with star Cam Fisher who is hitting .352 with 30 home runs and 64 RBIs on the season. The Knoxville native boasts a ridiculous 1.340 OPS and is one of the best hitters in the Clemson Regional.

Brandon Stahlman has the 49ers next best batting average and enters the tournament hitting .293 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs. Jack Dragum is hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs.

The 49ers have four different players with double-digit home runs on the season. Former Tennessee third baseman Austin Knight is hitting .242 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in his senior season while Jake Cunningham is hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs.

Charlotte’s offense is balanced after Fisher’s production with all nine batters being threats. The 49ers aren’t elite base stealers with no one tallying double-digit stolen bases this season. Blake Jackson leads the way for Charlotte with nine stolen bases this season.

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