After a thrilling Super Regional round, college baseball’s best teams have been whittled down to an elite field of eight, which are all bound for Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series.
Some squads have scratched and clawed their way reach this point while others have impressively dispatched their previous opponents, but now on the game’s biggest stage, you can bet each and every game will be an intense back-and-forth struggle.
The quest for the 2013 NCAA National Championship begins Saturday, but before the first pitch is thrown out, let’s take a look at each of the first four match-ups and each of the eight national finalists.
Miss St. – A 6-5 victory over Virginia on Monday sealed the Bulldogs’ spot in the CWS field, which marks the school’s ninth overall appearance in Omaha and first since 2007. Mississippi State’s versitlity – with strong pitching and clutch hitting – will make them a threat to go deep in this tournament.
Ore St. – The pride of Corvallis, Oregon, Beavers baseball is definitely exciting to watch. As exemplified by their 4-3 comeback win against Kansas State in the Super Regional, the Beavers don’t often dominate their opponents, but they usually find a way to get the job done. Oregon State is back in the CWS for the first time since 2007, but has plenty of experience on the big stage as a back-to-back national championship team (2006, 2007).
Indiana – Considering no Big Ten team has made it to the CWS since 1984, it would be easy to count the Indiana Hoosiers out. However, what they lack in experience, they more than make up for with heart and skill on the diamond. The Hoosiers, who are making their first ever CWS appearance, may actually be one of the most dangerous teams in the field, as they are 5-0 in the postseason so far.
Louisville – Like Indiana, Louisville is best known for its top-ranked basketball team, but this year the Cardinals have proven to be exceptional on the baseball diamond as well. Louisville is also undefeated thus far in postseason play, so when it faces Indiana on Saturday, something will have to give.
North Car. – It hasn’t been an easy road to the CWS this year for the Tar Heels, but their experience in clutch situations has helped them advance to the Promised Land once again. This season marks the sixth trip to Omaha in the last eight years for North Carolina, who now will fittingly face off against in-state rival N.C. State.
N.C. State – The Wolfpack are one of the hottest teams entering the CWS, but their last loss did come at the hands of the Tar Heels earlier this season. Still, with a shutdown bullpen and a stacked lineup, the Wolfpack will certainly be hungry for a rematch and will have vengeance on their minds.
UCLA – Undefeated so far in the 2013 NCAA Baseball Tournament, the Bruins seem like they can do no wrong. They certainly looked impressive in their sweep of Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regional, but on Sunday, they’ll be pitted against baseball powerhouse LSU and will be put to the ultimate test.
LSU – Considered by many to be this year’s favorite, the LSU tigers are a modern-day baseball dynasty. Not only have the Tigers won more titles than any other school since 1991 (6), but they also set a school record for wins this season. That means this squad may be the best the school has ever seen, even better than the team that won it all in 2009. Now, that’s gotta be pretty scary for the rest of the field.
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