Record: 48-13 Coach: Pat Murphy (13th year) How they got here: After winning the Pac-10 regular season crown in impressive fashion, the Sun Devils earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils cruised through their Tempe Regional, setting up a Super Regional date with Ole Miss. The Devils came back to beat the Rebels in the opener and cruised past Mike Bianco's team in game two. It wasn't an easy road, but the Sun Devils got the job done in impressive fashion. Key Players: To most observers, the Sun Devils enter the College World Series as the favorite to win the national title. ASU has the nation's top offensive lineup with first baseman Brett Wallace and second baseman Eric Sogard leading the charge. On the mound, Josh Satow and Mike Leake provide a productive one-two punch, while left-hander Brian Flores also has a reliable arm. CWS Synopsis: Since I first saw the Sun Devils at the Houston College Classic earlier this season, I've been very impressed. While the Devils don't have an incredibly deep pitching staff, they've got quality arms at the front of the weekend rotation. With their offensive production, that's all they need. The wind usually blows out to left-center at Rosenblatt Stadium, and that should work to ASU's advantage. If the Sun Devils hit like they're capable of doing, they're an extremely tough team to beat.
Record: 38-23 Coach: George Horton (11th year) How they got here: The Titans were sent to what appeared to be a very tough San Diego Regional. After Fresno State upset pitching-heavy San Diego in the Regional opener, the road was paved for the Titans. After taking care of business in San Diego, the Titans returned home and defeated in-state rival UCLA in consecutive games to advance to the College World Series. For a team that has been through so much this season, earning another Omaha berth is simply incredible. Key Players: The Titans have suffered some injuries this season, but the usual suspects are still leading the team at the plate and on the mound. Fullerton's lineup is led by scrappy junior outfielder Clark Hardman. On the mound, junior right-hander Wes Roemer is the driving force. Roemer put together an outstanding start against UCLA last weekend. Freshman outfielder Josh Fellhauer has impressed at the plate, while junior right-hander Jeff Kaplan has helped formulate a good weekend rotation. CWS Synopsis: After winning the San Diego Regional and the Fullerton Super Regional, you have to wonder how much gas the Titans have left in the tank. While that is certainly a concern, there's also the George Horton factor. Not only did Horton carry the Titans through the first two rounds of the postseason, he also knows what it takes to win in the College World Series. If Roemer and Kaplan throw the way they did against UCLA, the Titans could experience success in Omaha.
Record: 46-22 Coach: Dan McDonnell (First year) How they got here: In just his first season with the Cardinals, coach Dan McDonnell is having a year to remember. The Cardinals were sent to the Columbia Regional, where they lost the second game to host Missouri. However, they bounced back to eliminate Miami. They also defeated Missouri twice to advance to a Super Regional. In the Louisville Super Regional, the Cardinals took two of three from Oklahoma State in dominant fashion. It has been an impressive run for UL. Key Players: Flying under the radar for much of the season, a closer look at the Cardinals reveals consistency and balance. The Cardinals are led at the plate by veteran outfielder Isaiah Howes, speedy outfielder Boomer Whiting and second baseman Logan Johnson. The Cards also have an impressive pitching staff, with weekend starters Zack Pitts and Justin Marks leading the charge. The Cards also rely heavily on relievers Trystan Magnuson and Kyle Hollander.
CWS Synopsis: Despite taking care of business against Missouri and Miami, some may have believed Louisville was a pretender. But after the Cardinals dominated Oklahoma State in two of three games over the weekend, the critics are now in hiding. While Louisville's magical run could come to an end in Omaha, they are proven contenders. Not only can the Cardinals frustrate opposing pitchers, they also have a solid weekend rotation with Zack Pitts and Justin Marks leading the way.
Record: 43-18 Coach: Pat Casey (13th year) How they got here: To say that everything fell right for the defending champions might be the understatement of the year. The Beavers spent some time on the postseason bubble, and were shipped to the Charlottesville Regional. There, they double-dipped host Virginia to advance. While the Beavers took care of business in Charlottesville, Michigan upset top-seeded Vanderbilt. As a result, the Beavers played host to the Wolverines and swept them in two games. Key Players: The Beavers don't have an overly impressive offensive lineup. Mike Lissman and Jordan Lennerton set the pace, while veteran catcher Mitch Canham is a leader behind the plate. The Beavers are strong on the mound, where Jorge Reyes, Danny Turpen, Joe Paterson and Mike Stutes are key performers. The Beavers have a plethora of quality arms. CWS Synopsis: Like we've always said, there's no substitute for experience when it comes to the College World Series. That's exactly what Pat Casey's Beavers have entering this week's action. While OSU leaves something to be desired at the plate, it has one of the nation's most talented pitching staffs. The offense got the job done against Michigan and must approach the CWS field with the same attitude. When the dust settles, OSU's hurlers will lead the way.
Record: 38-20 Coach: Ron Polk (28th year) How they got here: After playing less than stellar baseball in the SEC Tournament a few weeks ago, most observers started to doubt the Bulldogs. Then came the Tallahassee Regional. Not only did the Bulldogs win the Regional, they defeated national seed Florida State twice to win the championship. After taking care of the Seminoles, the Bulldogs returned home to face Clemson. Though the pitching staff didn't perform at a high level, the offense led the way against the Tigers. Key Players: The Bulldogs have been inconsistent on the mound, but you can't argue with their offensive production. Freshman infielder Brandon Turner continues to lead the team at the plate, while experienced players Jeffrey Rea, Ed Easley and Mitch Moreland help get the offense rolling. The Bulldogs are led on the mound by starters Chad Crosswhite and Justin Pigott. Ricky Bowen, John Lalor and Aaron Weatherford are key relievers. CWS Synopsis: The Bulldogs are a team that has saved the best for last. While Mississippi State probably isn't the most talented team in this year's CWS field, they are hard-nosed and play intense baseball. They have an attitude that you can't coach. That is a major plus when you get a competitive tournament like the CWS. If the lineup produces like it did against Clemson, they're in great shape.
Record: 53-13 Coach: Mike Fox (ninth year) How they got here: The Tar Heels didn't play their best baseball in the Chapel Hill Regional, but still found a way to beat East Carolina and Western Carolina to advance to the Super Regional round. There, the Tar Heels faced a historical nemesis in South Carolina. While the Tar Heels and Gamecocks split the first two games, the Heels powered past the Gamecocks in the series finale. Like many teams, North Carolina is playing its best baseball at the right time. Key Players: As expected this season, the Tar Heels have one of the nation's top lineups. But what might surprise some is the production of freshman first baseman Dustin Ackley. Ackley has proven to be one of the nation's top hitters and spearheads a talented cast. While Ackley leads the way, fellow freshman Tim Fedroff is having a productive year at the plate. Tim Federowicz, Josh Horton and Reid Fronk continue to produce, while Chad Flack came up big in the Super Regional. On the mound, the Tar Heels have a talented cast with ace right-hander Robert Woodard and closer Andrew Carignan leading the charge. CWS Synopsis: After losing the championship series to Oregon State last season, the Tar Heels enter the College World Series with a chip on their shoulders. For coach Mike Fox, that's a good thing. The Tar Heels flexed their offensive muscles against South Carolina over the weekend, while the pitching staff did what it needed to do to win. If the Tar Heels play like they did against South Carolina, they're likely to experience a wealth of success in Omaha.
Record: 54-12 Coach: Wayne Graham (15th year) How they got here: When a team can struggle and still have success, that says a lot about a squad. The Owls swept through the Houston Regional with wins over Prairie View A&M and TCU (twice). They also took care of business in the Houston Super Regional against in-state rival Texas A&M. The Owls rallied to beat the Aggies in game one, while they won in impressive fashion in the series finale. Key Players: There are few players in college baseball more impressive than two-way star Joe Savery. Savery is one of the top offensive threats in the country. He's also an outstanding pitcher. Savery enters the College World Series itching to get back on the mound after a week off against the Aggies. While Savery leads the team at the plate and on the mound, the Owls have also received consistent starts from freshman right-hander Ryan Berry. The rest of the Rice pitching staff is ultra-talented. Matt Langwell, Cole St. Clair and Bobby Bramhall highlight an impressive group. CWS Synopsis: Let's face it, Rice has the top pitching staff in the tournament. While the Owls have a plethora of outstanding arms, the effect may wear off if the offense continues to sputter as it has the past two weeks. Sophomore Aaron Luna is a good fit for Rosenblatt Stadium and needs to have a huge week. Jordan Dodson and Brian Friday must also rise to the occasion. If the Owls hit, they should cruise to the title series.
Record: 45-15-1 Coach: Dave Serrano (third year) How they got here: The Anteaters have had an amazing season in just Serrano's third year as coach. While the Anteaters enter the College World Series as one of the hottest teams in the land, they didn't have an easy road. The Anteaters went on the road and beat Texas twice to advance from the Round Rock Regional. Then they went on the road and swept Wichita State to advance to their first-ever College World Series. Key Players: The Anteaters have one of the nation's top weekend rotations. Sophomore Scott Gorgen and junior Wes Etheridge are difficult to handle. They also have one of the nation's saves leaders, Blair Erickson. Ollie Linton, Taylor Holiday, Ben Orloff and Matt Morris lead the way offensively, while veteran second baseman Cody Cipriano is the main power producer. CWS Synopsis: While the Anteaters may not have the most prospects, they play extremely hard and put pressure on opposing pitchers. They are near the top of the national list in stolen bases as a team. They also have impressive numbers on the mound. If weekend starters Gorgen and Etheridge get in a groove and the offense is able to get runners on base, watch out for the Anteaters.