OMAHA, Neb. —- In the words of the immortal Kenny Loggins, “This is it!’
Finally, at 2 p.m. C.T. this show can get started from the majestic field inside TD Ameritrade Park, the first game of the 2016 NCAA World Series.
This year’s tournament will be featuring some familiar teams and a couple of fresh faces in the crowd, that have arrived on the banks of the mighty Missouri River.
Stepping out onto the diamond to open up the tournament, will be Oklahoma State University, this is one baseball program that owns a rich baseball history, a program with plenty of experience of playing here in Omaha.
OSU will be playing one of two teams that are making the programs first appearance in the College World Series, the Cowboys will be playing the University of California at Santa Barbra.
Oklahoma State is making their 20th appearance in the College World Series, the first one since 1999 and with an overall record of 41-20, the Cowboys are ranked 12th by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Oklahoma State University comes into the College World Series batting .268, 47 home runs and the Cowboys have scored 357 runs.
OSU’s offense is led by Donnie Walton and J.R. Davis, Walton leads the team with 44 home runs and Davis leads the team with a batting average of .353.
Leading the Cowboy’s pitching staff, is the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Thomas Hatch, he starts the tournament with a ERA of 2.04, 105 strikeouts and three complete games.
“It goes without saying, we are thrilled to be here in Omaha and it was great to get out on the field. It is amazing how fast time go by once you land all of the excitement,” Oklahoma State University baseball coach Josh Holliday said. “It get’s better every time you come we have not been here for a while Makes you realize this place is so special and you do the things to build your team, your players and program hoping to get a chance get a championship.”
Let’s go back in time, all the way back to last Sunday June 12, under the bright Kentucky sunlight, the University of Louisville practically were packed for the trip to Omaha-wait something happen along the way!
Freshman catcher for the University of California Santa Barbra, Sam Cohen changed the travel plans for both teams, as he hit a walk off grand slam home run for the Gauchos, making the arrival to Omaha – a reality, instead of a dream.
This season was supposed to be a season of rebuilding for University of California Santa Barbra baseball coach Andrew Checketts but his team started the 2016 baseball season by winning eight out of their first nine games, including the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic.
At the end of the regular season UCSB finished in third place in the Big West Conference, the Gauchos received an at-large bid from the NCAA and they have made their own history.
UCSB, so far has played 61 games this season, scored 329 runs, hit 32 home runs and the Gauchos have team batting average of .262 and winning the Nashville Regional and the Super Regional in Louisville.
Leading the Gauchos on the mound, junior Shane Bieber, he has started 17 games with an ERA of 2.84, he has pitched 126.2 innings striking out 103 and only walking 16.
Leading the bullpen with nine saves for UCSB is left-handed sophomore Kyle Nelson. He has appeared in 32 games, 7-2 record and 85 strikeouts throwing 71.1 innings.
“It’s been a whirlwind for us to get to this point,” Checketts said. “It has been a fantastic experience first time in Omaha. It is all new for me and for the players. We are trying to suck it all in I really proud of this group.”
The sun will be beating down on the playing surface and make no doubt-it will be hot!
Once the umpire yells to play ball, the heat will seem to disappear and the two squads will focus on playing the best baseball they can play, as the curtain rises and the NCAA presents the 2016 NCAA College World Series.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation.
I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.