1 Oregon State (39-14)
appearance, automatic, won Pacific-10 regular season
2 Kansas (42-23)
appearance, automatic, won Big 12 tournament
3 Hawaii (43-16)
appearance, at-large, Western Athletic
4 Wright State (32-25)
appearance, automatic, won Horizon tournament
State followed up its first regional appearance since 1986 and
first CWS trip since 1952 by winning consecutive Pac-10 titles for
the first time in school history. This year’s Beavers say getting to
Omaha is no longer the goal–winning there is. Much of the pitching
staff that carried Oregon State last year returns and helped it to a
3.53 ERA to led the Pac-10. Santa Clara transfer Mike Stutes (6-2,
2.71) added another arm to the combo of Dallas Buck (11-2, 2.92) and
Jonah Nickerson (9-4, 2.61). Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2005 Pac-10
co-player of the year, was replaced by junior outfielder Cole
Gillespie, who hit .370-11-50 with 20 doubles and 69 runs scored to
win the award all by himself this year.
went from bubble team to No. 2 seed by winning its final seven
games of the year and knocking off three Top 20 teams in Oklahoma,
Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win its first Big 12 tournament title.
Senior righthander Don Czyz closed the final victory for his
NCAA-leading 18th save to go along with a 1.62 ERA and 59 strikeouts
in 61 innings. Stanford transfer Kodiak Quick emerged as the staff
ace, going 11-4, 3.36 in his second year at KU. Seniors Jared
Schweitzer (.358-9-37) and Gus Milner (.332-7-56) led the offense.
the four teams in this regional, Hawaii has gone the longest
without reaching the postseason. The Rainbows last played in the NCAA
tournament in 1993. Junior righthander Steven Wright (11-2, 2.30) has
proven nearly unbeatable this season with a 123-19 strikeout-walk
ratio over 110 innings. He could help upend Kansas, but there’s
probably not enough pitching or offense to win the region. Luis Avila
hit eight of Hawaii’s 15 homers; he and Justin Frash (.368-3-53) are
the main threats in the lineup.
Smith is a pretty common name, but the junior closer for Wright
State is anything but a common talent. He throws an 88-91 mph
fastball from a submarine arm slot and chews up opposing hitters. He
ranked fourth in the Horizon League with 62 strikeouts in 52 innings
while posting 13 saves and an 0.69 ERA. Smith threw four scoreless
innings to save a win at Texas Christian and went three innings
without allowing an earned run to lock up a win against Notre Dame.
If Wright State keeps a game close into the late innings, it can
unleash Smith and send its upset chances spiking upward.