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.
• 2014: 33-24 (19-11 Pac-12)
• Head coach: Tracy Smith (first year)
Sun Devils' team website
1. What can fans expect from this squad in 2015? A rejuvenated and motivated team. A new stadium and a new head coach has energized the team and forced them to challenge each other like never before.
2. What is the one thing that this year’s team does best? There are great leaders on this team within every position group. The team has great chemistry and will always put wins and losses ahead of personal records and accolades.
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 designated hitter R.J. Ybarra. He has five game-winning hits in the ninth inning or later in his two-year career. He craves the pressure situations.
4. If this team had one game to win, which pitcher would get the ball? Junior left-hander Ryan Kellogg. He tossed a no-hitter at Oregon State his freshman season, which is one of the hardest environments in the nation for an opposing team. He has numerous wins over top-ranked teams, both at home and on the road, and his attitude on the mound and in the dugout never changes.
5. Who are we most likely to see make a SportsCenter Top 10 play on this squad? Junior center fielder Johnny Sewald and second baseman Jordan Aboites. Both of them are athletic and have a nose for the ball on defense.
6. What does Omaha mean to this team? School pride. Baseball is the flagship program at Arizona State University and the fan base’s crown jewel. It’s legacy, from coaches to players to teams to moments, is unmatched and permeates ever aspect of the program. Omaha, year in and year, will always be the goal.
-- Assistant Media Relations Director Thomas Lenneberg
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