The story lines are plentiful for this year’s College World Series set to start today (Friday 6/15) at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha. Two first-timers are ready for action as the Stony Brook Seawolves and Kent State Flashes make their CWS debut. How will they handle the pressure of playing on the national stage? Can South Carolina pull off the three-peat? Will number one seed Florida finally reach the ultimate goal of a national title, or will some other team step up and surprise the field, like Arkansas?
Stony Brook (located on Long Island) is 52-13 and enters Friday’s game against UCLA with the most wins in the nation. The Seawolves are the first team from New York to make it to Omaha since St. John’s in 1980. The Seawolves are second in the nation in batting average (.335), eighth in scoring (7.2 runs per game), fourth in runs (468), first in hits (731), second in triples (36), and second in slugging percentage (.483).
One reason a team like Arkansas can be dangerous is because of their stellar pitching and defense. The ‘Hogs haven’t hit well, but their arms may carry this team. The Arkansas pitching staff has a 2.00 ERA in six postseason games, striking out 37 batters and walking only nine. Defensively, they’ve committed just four errors in six games and compiling a .983 fielding percentage.
The Razorbacks are hitting just .211 in the NCAA tournament with no home runs, but at a grave yard, where long balls go to dive, that’s not necessarily a death sentences for Arkansas. Last season at TD Ameritrade Park, only nine home runs were hit in 14 games during the 2011 CWS.
South Carolina is attempting a rare CWS feat, looking to become just the second team in history to win more than two championships back to back. Southern Cal won five in a row from 1970-74. Only three other schools won back-to-back titles: Texas (’49-’50), LSU (’96-’97) and Oregon State (’06-’07).
The Arizona pitching staff has combined to throw 14 complete games this season – the most of any team in the 2012 CWS.
UCLA freshman pitcher David Berg has appeared in 47 of the Bruins’ 61 games on the year, posting a 5-3 record with a Pac-12 leading 1.58 ERA. His 47 appearances are tied for second on the NCAA’s single-season all-time appearances list.
Florida State DH John Nogowski tagged along with his dad to the CWS in Omaha when he was a toddler and his dad worked for the Tallahassee Democrat. Nogowski, who grew up a Seminoles fan will not be in the starting lineup on Friday.
(notes courtesy of NCAA.com)