The Road to Omaha doesn't begin in the spring; coaches already are driving their players toward the College World Series. It's the rise-n-grind that players tweet about; it's the workout pictures that are shared on social media. It's the day-in, day-out work that coaches and players hope will separate their team in June. Before the first pitch in February, NCAA.com is highlighting teams that may reach the Mecca of college baseball: Omaha.

BALL STATE CARDINALS
• 2014: 39-18 (22-4 MAC)
• Head coach: Rich Maloney (third season)
Ball State hosts Boys and Girls Club
Cardinals' team website

1. What can fans expect from this squad in 2015? We have a talented group that is truly a team. Fans can expect this group of young men to play hard and fundamentally sound baseball. These kids know how to win and expect to be successful.

2. What is the one thing that this year’s team does best? Play solid defense day in and day out.

3. Bottom of the ninth, tied game, two outs, winning run on second… which player does this team want to step up to the plate? Junior infielder Ryan Spaulding

4. If this team had one game to win, which pitcher would get the ball? Sophomore right-hander Zach Plesac

5. Who are we most likely to see make a SportsCenter Top 10 play on this squad? Senior infielder Elbert DeVarie or sophomore outfielder Matt Eppers

6. What does Omaha mean to this team? Omaha is a dream of every team and every coach and that is no different for our players. It would mean so much for our kids, university and those who root for the underdog.

-- Ball State head coach Rich Maloney

TOP RETURNING HITTERS
PLAYER AVG. G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
Alex Call .354 53 206 40 73 15 0 1 24
Jarret Rindfleisch .352 42 125 23 44 9 0 4 33
Sean Kennedy .315 56 197 29 62 5 1 0 17
TOP RETURNING PITCHERS
PLAYER ERA W-L SV IP H ER BB K B/AVG.
Zach Plesac 2.11 12-2 6 85.1 75 20 33 67 .238
Scott Baker 4.04 7-5 0 89.0 93 40 18 61 .268
B.J. Butler 11.40 0-1 0 15.0 23 19 12 11 .359