The College World Series will get underway in Omaha, NE, on Friday afternoon. Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas, Arkansas, Stanford, Ole Miss, and Auburn make up the eight teams in Omaha this summer.
Four of the eight teams are in the SEC as the conference looks for its third straight title. After Vanderbilt won the national championship in 2019 and Mississippi State won in 2021. Only two national seeds — No.5 Texas A&M and No.2 Stanford — advanced to the College World Series.
SEC Hopes for Omaha Success Yet Again
After a regular season in which the SEC saw many of its marquee programs not live up to preseason expectations, the conference has rebounded in the NCAA Tournament.
Ole Miss and Arkansas both advanced to Omaha exclusively on the road. Auburn took advantage of its hosting opportunity to win its regional before defeating Oregon State in the super regional round. Lastly, Texas A&M’s journey through the tournament has been dominant, as the Aggies are 5-0 heading into the College World Series.
Ole Miss has been one of the greatest surprises of the tournament. Earlier this year, the Rebels were ranked No.1 in the country, but a tough stretch of SEC play in April put Mike Bianco’s team on the bubble heading into Selection Day. Controversially, Ole Miss made it into the tournament field and has taken advantage of its opportunity.
The Rebels won the Coral Gables Regional partly due to a late comeback against No.6 nationally-ranked Miami and a 2-0 victory in the Hattiesburg Super Regional against No.11 Southern Miss. Ole Miss heads into Omaha playing its best baseball of the season so far.
Auburn has had a similar story. The Tigers were not expected to host during the last weekend of the season but unexpectedly found themselves as hosts and the No.14 seed in the tournament. They had an extremely impressive regional weekend, going 3-0 with winning scores of 19-7, 21-7, and 11-4.
Last weekend was even more impressive for the Tigers, who went on the road to defeat Oregon State in one of the best super regionals of the entire weekend. Auburn and Ole Miss will play each other in their first game at the College World Series in what should be a fantastic matchup of two teams playing at their best.
Arkansas spent much of the end of the season fighting to host but ultimately had to travel to the Stillwater Regional hosted by Oklahoma State. Despite a tough draw, the Razorbacks advanced to the Chapel Hill Super Regional and, following a late, come-from-behind 4-3 win against a highly talented North Carolina team, will advance to Omaha.
Texas A&M has arguably been the best team in the tournament. The Aggies defeated in-state rival TCU to advance to a super regional matchup against No.12 Louisville. In what was expected to be one of the best series of the super regional round, Texas A&M won both games by one run to advance to the College World Series.
Heading into Omaha, the SEC teams in the tournament have been extremely impressive. Ole Miss and Auburn have entered their best stretches of the season at the perfect time, while Texas A&M and Arkansas both won tough matchups in impressive fashion.
Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, and Stanford All Win Hard-Fought Super Regionals to Reach Omaha
Notre Dame may have had the worst luck of any team regarding NCAA Tournament selection. After the ACC Tournament, the feeling was that the Irish would be in contention to be a national seed. However, Notre Dame discovered it wouldn’t be a host following the selection show.
To make matters worse, Notre Dame may have gotten one of the toughest draws of the entire tournament. The Irish began in the Statesboro Regional against one of the best No.3 seeds in the tournament in Texas Tech, a team in or near the Top 25 for much of the season.
After defeating Texas Tech in its tournament-opening game, Notre Dame won 6-4 against No.16 seed and host Georgia Southern before defeating Texas Tech again in the regional final.
Things didn’t get any easier in the super regional round for Notre Dame. The Irish traveled to Knoxville, TN, to take on the No.1 overall seed Tennessee Volunteers, one of the best teams in recent college baseball memory.
Despite the Vols rostering three potential first-round picks in this July’s MLB draft, Notre Dame managed an impressive 2-1 series victory against Tennessee. That win, combined with the other tough challenges they’ve faced, could make the Irish favorites in the College World Series.
Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champions, narrowly missed its own opportunity to host. Instead, the Sooners traveled to Gainesville, FL, where they defeated No.13 Florida in a thrilling regional final. Oklahoma then faced arguably college baseball’s best offense in a super regional against Virginia Tech, but an 11-2 victory in the final game of the series sent OU to Omaha.
Like Ole Miss and Auburn, Oklahoma is a team that has found its best stretch of play in the most critical part of the season. As with Notre Dame, the Sooners have faced incredible adversity on their way to Omaha and will be a tough team to eliminate at the College World Series.
Texas, which like Ole Miss, was ranked No.1 earlier this season, cruised through the Austin Regional on its way to a super-regional matchup against East Carolina. Their three-game set was must-see television, with both teams exchanging leads constantly in the first two games of the series before Texas’ pitching depth led to an 11-1 victory in the series finale.
Interestingly, Stanford had one of the most dramatic paths to Omaha. The No.2 national seed lost its second game in the tournament and was nearly eliminated before winning three straight games in the regional round to advance. Despite a late comeback attempt, Stanford lost its first game in the super regionals against UConn. But back-to-back wins by a combined 11 runs showed how talented the Cardinal are.
Brock Jones, Carter Graham, Brett Barrera, and Braden Montgomery help make up one of the best lineups in the country. Stanford has only two regular starters who bat under .300; one of them is Montgomery, who has 18 home runs and a .970 OPS. As a result, the Cardinal are always capable of a comeback thanks to a lineup with no weaknesses.
With multiple teams playing their best baseball of the season alongside some of the most talented teams in the country, the College World Series should be excellent.
Before the announcement of the 2022 All-American Teams, read our recap of the 2021 selections.
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