Some of this year’s most exciting baseball starts this weekend, as the final eight teams left standing take the field in Omaha, Nebraska for the NCAA College World Series. Over the course of nearly two weeks, college baseball fans will be treated to some of the most spectacular matchups in the country, as the ultimate prize of national champion awaits the team that comes out on top in the end.
For Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt, their eyes are all focused forward on reaching the summit of a national title, but when we look back at what got them to Omaha, there are a multitude of amazing storylines that have gotten us to this point.
Auburn snapped a 22-year drought of not getting to the College World Series by edging out perennial contender North Carolina in the super regional round, while fighting through adversity throughout the season. Junior pitcher Davis Daniel was lost in late April when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and a hot start to the season cooled off, but the Tigers made it into the conference tournament as the eighth seed. Auburn then managed to top No. 3 national seed Georgia Tech twice in the regional rounds of the NCAA tournament. If the Tigers can continue to persevere and push through as they have in recent weeks, they could come back to Alabama with the team’s first national championship.
Florida State has made the NCAA Baseball Tournament 57 times, second all-time among Division I programs behind only Texas with 59 appearances, and has appeared in the College World Series 22 times, trailing only Texas (36 appearances) and Miami (25), yet has never won it all. Can the Seminoles finally break through this year and claim the title that has eluded them so many times?
Michigan has shown it is not to be taken lightly come this postseason. After losing only one game during its run through the regional and managing to avoid facing off against 2018 national champion Oregon State in the process, the Wolverines ran into arguably their toughest opponent of the season at the super regional round, UCLA. The Bruins had amassed a record of 51-9 going into the super regionals and were the No. 1 seed in the country, but it was Michigan that prevailed, taking two out of three in Los Angeles to propel the Wolverines to Omaha. Will Michigan continue this stellar run and take the trophy home to Ann Arbor?
Arkansas and Mississippi State have consistently been among the best baseball teams in the SEC over the years, and their fans have been among the most supportive in the country. Looking at a list of the top 25 most attended baseball games held at an on-campus venue, Mississippi State appears 18 times on that list, with Arkansas claiming two of the remaining seven spots. Despite the Razorbacks and the Bulldogs both having appeared in multiple College World Series, neither team has ever won it all. Both teams would love nothing else than to claim the trophy and give their rabid fanbases something truly unforgettable.
Louisville, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt have all built themselves into serious contenders over the past several years, with Vandy appearing in back-to-back championship series in 2014 and 2015. While the Cardinals, Red Raiders and Commodores may not have a history at the College World Series more storied teams enjoy, look for them to push just as hard and prove they truly earned the spot they did.
With so many fascinating storylines building to their final chapters at Omaha, there is little doubt the College World Series will be an exciting tournament. So, when TD Ameritrade Park comes alive Saturday, buckle up. It’s going to be a fun ride.