The NCAA baseball tournament field is down to eight as the teams head to the College World Series. On Saturday, the games begin in Omaha, and in just 11 days we will see who’s the best of the best in the collegiate baseball world. Get ready for teams with stellar defense, power hitters, and dominating pitching. Let’s take a look at each of the schools playing in Omaha.
Florida Gators (46–19)
Scouting report: It took a challenging regional and an extra-innings walk-off homer over Auburn to get the Gators to this point. Florida, the No. 1 team in the country, has confidence and strong bats. They have had 57 hits and an eye-popping 15 home runs so far this postseason.
Know this name: Brady Singer will be a key part of Florida’s defense as he looks to keep up his solid pitching. The SEC pitcher of the year outdueled top draft pick Casey Mize in the team’s Super Regional against Auburn and gave the other seven teams in Omaha a reason to watch out for the Gators.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (44–18)
Scouting report: This postseason, Texas Tech has had a 5–1 record and gone 5–0 when scoring six runs or more. In low-scoring contests and pitchers duels, the Red Raiders will be challenged. If their bats are alive, however, they will be a team to look out for.
Know this name: He was second team All–America, he pitches, he plays the infield—the list goes on for the Red Raiders’ Josh Jung. After hitting .390 on the season, Jung went 4 for 5 in the 6–2 win over Duke that sent Texas Tech to the CWS.
Texas Longhorns (42–21)
Scouting report: The Horns used home-field advantage, good defense, and some inspiration from late coach Augie Garrido to clinch a berth in Omaha, beating Tennessee Tech in three games. (Garrido, who passed away in March, won five national championships, including two in 20 seasons at Texas.) With All-America pitcher Nolan Kingham, an excellent catcher in DJ Petrinsky, and the double play duo of David Hamilton and Kody Clemens, Texas is really a defensive power.
Know this name: Clemens, a junior, is following in his famous father Roger’s footsteps by playing in Omaha for the Longhorns; however, he’s not doing it on the mound, he’s doing it at the plate. Second in the NCAA in home runs (24), Clemens will look to show his power once again to help bring a national title home to Austin.
Arkansas Razorbacks (44–19)
Scouting report: Arkansas has been to the NCAA tournament 19 times in the last 20 years but never brought home a title. This year that could change as the Razorbacks swept four SEC opponents for the first time in 19 years and rank third in the nation in homers with 94; about 20% of their runs have come from round-trippers.
Know this name: The ace of the team, Blaine Knight, has a perfect 12–0 record on the mound while only allowing his opponents a .226 batting average. Knight has stayed strong, even while playing in the challenging SEC conference. The question is: Will he remain perfect throughout the College World Series?
Scouting report: The Beavers are perfect to this point in the postseason after sweeping through the Corvallis regional and then defeating Minnesota in two games at their Super Regional. With more than half of the team having played in Omaha before, the Beavers bring valuable experience.
Know his name: Trevor Larnach was one of six Beavers to start all four games in Omaha last season. This year, he has played very well, even getting drafted 20th overall by the Minnesota Twins. His bat, along with his experience, will really help his team when a national title is on the line.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (37–27)
Scouting report: Vanderbilt had swept the three-game series between the two teams earlier this year by a combined score of 19–4, and that was exactly who Mississippi State faced for a spot in the College World Series. MSU prevailed, overcoming the odds in extra innings to win 10–6 over Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs have been especially good at producing runs throughout the postseason, scoring by way of sacrifice flies and bunts, hit batters, walks, and stolen bases.
Know this name: Elijah McNamee has been Mississippi State’s hottest hitter during the postseason, batting a strong .333 to go along with five homers, two of which were walk-offs! He very well could come up clutch in Omaha with his ability to hit whenever, wherever.
North Carolina Tar Heels (43–18)
Scouting report: While they struggled during the regular season against ranked opponents, the Tar Heels had no problem beating Houston 19–11 to advance to the Supers and eventually take down Stetson. More importantly though, UNC has put 48 runs on the board so far this postseason. The ability to score will be key for North Carolina against the tough pitching of other teams in Omaha.
Know this name: The best player on the Tar Heels offensively, Kyle Datres is a player you won’t want to miss. He is batting .344 and has a .941 fielding percentage, making him a five-tool player.
Washington Huskies (35–24)
Scouting report: A chance to make history was on the line when Washington took the field against Cal State Fullerton on Sunday night. Eleven innings and a sac fly later, the Huskies were heading to Omaha for the first time in the school’s history. Watch for the Huskies’ accurate pitching: They led the Pac-12 in fewest walks, hit batters, and wild pitches.
Know this name: Senior reliever Alex Hardy is one of Washington’s top performers on the mound with a 2.14 ERA and only six home runs allowed on the year. He might not have the most innings pitched (59), but he is definitely one of Washington’s most consistent hurlers.
Top photograph by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos/Getty Images