Nothing else needs to be said. We are back.
MLB.com breaks down the teams.
Texas Longhorns: (46-14)
Head Coach: Augie Garrido
MLB connections : Two Longhorns were selected in the First-Year Player Draft earlier this week. Austin Wood and Brandon Belt were both taken in the fifth round, by Detroit and San Francisco, respectively.
Key players to watch Wood proved he was a pretty special pitcher earlier this month by tossing a no-hitter through 12 1/3 innings. Strong performances like that just don't come along every day. Right-hander Chance Ruffin is a horse for the Longhorns, with three complete games this season, 116 innings and only 23 walks. He appears to have a huge upside. Interestingly, Ruffin's father, Bruce, pitched for 12 years in the Majors with the Phillies, Brewers and Rockies, respectively.
What to expect: Here again is another team that has incredible depth, but it's the pitching staff that really stands out. The Longhorns have five pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched this season, none of whom have ERA's higher than 3.50. They have pitchers that can go the distance in Ruffin and Cole Green, as well as strikeout pitchers in Ruffin and Taylor Jungmann. They also have pitchers like Wood who have great control. Bottom line: If Texas wins the World Series it will be because of the depth of their pitching staff. Their offense, while certainly not lacking luster, may falter against some of the tournament's stronger pitching staffs.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle summed it up best:
"They can flat-out pitch,'' TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of the Longhorns. "You can talk about crowd, the experience and all this other stuff about momentum. But momentum begins and ends at the bump in the middle of the field and whoever goes out there.''
Pitcher Chance Ruffin is ready.
Freshman pitcher Austin Dicharry knows firsthand about Ruffin’s competitiveness and the vital role it plays on the pitching staff.
"He is very important; he gets us going," Dicharry said. "He is a bulldog on the mound. The attitude he brings to the team goes right along with what he does on the mound."
Austin Wood knew the Horns were heading back to Omaha before the TCU game.
Texas closer Austin Wood said he knew that Texas was headed for Omaha after hearing coaching Augie Garrido's pregame talk.
"It was the most inspirational speech I had ever heard," Wood said.
He said he learned how much Garrido wanted it and how much he wanted it for his players. And the 70-year-old Garrido told his team they would have to match TCU's desire.
Omaha is the baseball team's summer home.
The locals who have grown accustomed to watching Texas at the College World Series year in and year out don't know whether to greet the Longhorns with "Howdy, stranger,'' or "Welcome back.''
Austinite Kevin Keyes always knew this is where he wanted to be.
Growing up in Austin, right fielder Kevin Keyes was always a Longhorn fan. After finishing his sophomore year of high school, Keyes spent the early part of June following Texas’ exploits in Omaha.
"I watched every game," Keyes said. "It was so exciting to watch, knowing I wanted to play there [in Omaha] one day."
Edible delights from the College World Series.
This is Southern Mississippi's first appearance in the CWS. Needless to say, they are the underdog in Sunday's game against the Horns.
The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles have crashed the College World Series that opens Saturday in Omaha, Neb. USM is the lowest regional seed in the eight-team tournament and most agree there's nothing flashy about the Golden Eagles. But blue collar works, too. They can swing the sticks, they boast nice experience and, of course, they do have likable head coach Corky Palmer.
Southern Miss' head coach Corky Palmer will be retiring after the CWS.
On Sunday, Palmer will lead the Southern Miss Golden Eagles against Texas, the all-time winningest college baseball program, on the biggest stage there is: the College World Series.
It will be Southern Miss' first appearance at the College World Series. It also will be Palmer's last.
Palmer, 55, announced his retirement in May, and despite leading his team to a place nobody thought the Golden Eagles would reach, he's decided to hang up the coach's uniform.
"I've got other stuff I want to do," said Palmer, who enjoys fishing when he's not coaching or watching "The Andy Griffith Show."
Leading off for Southern Miss... Bo Davis.
The senior center fielder showed why he is so suited for the role after he returned to the leadoff spot for the postseason and sparked the Golden Eagles’ shocking run to the College World Series. Davis has used his speed, power and actor’s sense of timing to set the tone for a team long ago written off.
"I enjoy it a lot," said Davis, who was temporarily moved to the No. 3 spot after an injury early this year. "You’ve got your 2, 3 and 4 hitters coming up behind you, so typically a pitcher’s going to come after you to get you out. He can’t let you get on. That’s a great battle mentality. They’re throwing their fastballs at you and you either square up and hit them or get out. I like that aspect of it."
Dan Johnston coached the MIssissippi Muddawgs, a team of select players that traveled all over for tournaments. Johnston died in 2002 after a battle with cancer but his legacy lives on in his son, USM picher Jonathan Johnston, and other Muddawg players that went on to play at the college level.
Dan and Jonathan Johnston traveled to Omaha again in 2002. Dan Johnston had been diagnosed with cancer that would take his life a few months later.
Again, the father's message to the son was the same: "Someday, you will be out there."
"You know," Jonathan Johnston says, "you keep hearing something over and over, you start to believe it."
USM players James and Michael Ewing, twin brothers, are from Beaumont.
We know about that certain quarterback that just won't retire, but in baseball Southern Miss had several alums make it to the baseball big league.
What's great about getting to the College World Series? More money from donors.
The Golden Eagles' success could significantly increase the university's fan base plus open the school up to brand new financial donors.
"I think the biggest impact is the national exposure," USM athletic director Richard Giannini said. "The fact that we're headed to the College World Series is so positive for the program. When people are positive and proud of the institution, it encourages people to donate the maximum."Hopefully Eagle Club membership will increase and future ticket purchasing will increase, not only in baseball but other programs."
So how did NCAA officials spend Friday? Checking bats.
NCAA officials spent Friday inspecting bats to be used in the College World Series to make sure they meet specifications amid concerns they are being tampered with to make them more lively.
NCAA Baseball Committee chairman Tim Weiser said it has become stylish this season for bats to be "rolled," a process that flattens the bat barrel so the ball propels 10 mph to 15 mph faster.
There are a number of Web sites offering the service, usually for about $30 a bat. Rolling a bat hastens the break-in time and is not illegal unless it causes the bat to fall out of compliance.
Omaha by Counting Crows.
Condolences. Former Longhorn women's swim coach Richard Quick has died. He was at UT from 1984-1988.