The eight teams that made it to the College World Series arrived at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Friday. Each team got a chance to practice on the field in front of thousands of fans. Sports Illustrated Kids was there to talk to the players after they stepped off the dirt.
Oregon State junior Bryce Fehmel said it is great to experience the CWS for the second year in a row.
“It’s wild,” the Beavers’ pitcher said. “As you can see, there are plenty of photographers and fans here, and it’s only 9:00, and the first game hasn’t even started.”
Washington is making its first ever appearance at the CWS. Huskies catcher Nick Khale said that since he and his teammates stepped off the bus in Omaha, all the fans have been very supportive. “We’ve had some great hospitality here,” he said.
The sometimes hectic atmosphere of the College World Series is a lot for players such as Mississippi State University's Konnor Pilkington to take in. This is the Bulldogs’ first CWS appearance since 2013. “At times it’s overwhelming,” the pitcher said.
Up to 24,500 fans can fit inside the stadium. The size was a surprising sight to MSU second baseman Hunter Stovall.
“It’s a big stage,” Stovall said. “It’s an atmosphere that I don’t think any of us have ever played in. This place is humungous.”
Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier compared the atmosphere at the CWS to Major League Baseball’s World Series. “I wish everybody could get to experience what it’s like to play on this field in front of 20,000 fans,” he said.
Beavers outfielder Trevor Larnach made a similar comparison. “I think it’s the closest thing to the big leagues,” he said.
Teammate Kyle Nobach said he was anxious to take the field for the first game. He said he remembers seeing the Beavers win the back-to-back CWS championships in 2006 and ’07 and how it inspired him as a kid. “That’s when I really started caring a lot about baseball,” Nobach said.
Taking the field on Friday was the start to an exciting time for players such as North Carolina outfielder Brandon Riley. This is Riley’s first time at the CWS; the Tar Heels are also making their first appearance since 2013.
Said Riley, “This has been a childhood dream of mine to come here.”