The sport of college baseball has never been solely a numbers game, yet numbers can still give us some insight in the College World Series, which is set to begin in Omaha on Saturday.
Here are nine intriguing figures to consider about the field of eight as the programs are in search of the 2016 CWS title:
ACC/SEC teams heading to Omaha: 2
The Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference arguably had the best chances to make a run toward Omaha considering the conferences locked up 13 regional host sites and seven national seeds. But by the end of Super Regionals, only Florida and Miami advanced to the CWS as the lone representative of the SEC and ACC respectively. Florida will represent the SEC for the fifth time in the past seven years.
Meanwhile the Big 12 will certainly have plenty of rooting interest with TCU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all shining on the big stage for the conference. All three teams have combined for a 15-3 record during the NCAA baseball tournament. Speaking of the Cowboys …
Years since Oklahoma State last advanced to CWS: 17
The Cowboys’ most recent trip to Omaha occurred back in 1999, coincidentally when current head coach Josh Holliday played during his father Tom Holliday’s tenure. Oklahoma State is rolling through postseason right now and they are the only undefeated team entering the CWS on Saturday, thanks largely in part to its terrific pitching staff led by Thomas Hatch.
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Number of national seeds eliminated this postseason: 5
2016 wasn’t a kind year to the national seeds. Oklahoma State eliminated Clemson in the regional round and of the seven national seeds left entering the supers, four were eliminated. No. 2 Louisville lost on a walk-off grand slam. No. 4 Texas A&M struggled in Game 3 against TCU. No. 6 Mississippi State and No. 8 LSU couldn’t stop surging Arizona and Coastal Carolina.
Only Florida, Miami and Texas Tech punched bids to Omaha with the Gators arguably having pressure as the favorites as the top overall seed. But keep in mind, the No. 1 seed has not won a CWS since Miami completed the task in 1999, the year the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
Texas Tech record in elimination games: 3-0
If there is one lesson to learn this postseason, it should be to never count out the Red Raiders. In an elimination game in the Lubbock regional after losing 10-6, Texas Tech responded with a 5-3 win over Dallas Baptist to clinch a spot in the super regional against East Carolina. After dropping Game 1 to the Pirates 8-6, Texas Tech once again bounced back in the pair of elimination games with 3-1 win and a resounding 11-0 shutout to earn a trip to Omaha. The Red Raiders are just the 30th team in the Super Regional era to bounce back from Game 1 loss and advance, the first time since Virginia and Ole Miss accomplished the task in 2014.
Number of grand slams to clinch CWS spots: 3Grand slams turned out to be a common occurrence this past weekend for three of the CWS contenders with three players each hitting one in the decisive games in the super regional. Miami’s Edgar Michelangeli crushed one that put his Canes up 9-3 against Boston College in Game 3. JJ Schwarz knocked a grand slam over the left field fence to put the game out of reach in Florida's Game 3 win over Florida State. But the biggest came from UC Santa Barbara’s Sam Cohen, whose pinch-hit grand slam punched the Gauchos’ first ticket to Omaha and upset the No. 2 national seed Louisville.
Combined national championships of the field: 9
Arizona, Miami and Oklahoma State are the only programs remaining that have captured national championships in Omaha. The Wildcats and Hurricanes are tied with four national titles apiece, but Arizona's most recent occurred back in 2012 while Miami hasn't won since 2001. It has been 57 years since Oklahoma State's lone championship in 1959 and the Cowboys haven't advanced to the championship game since 1990.
As for the rest of the field that have been to Omaha before, Texas Tech and TCU have never advanced to the championship series while Florida is tied for the third-most CWS appearances without a national title. The Gators finished runner-ups to Texas and South Carolina in 2005 and 2011.
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Consecutive CWS appearances by TCU: 3
Jim Schlossnagle has turned the Horned Frogs into one of the nation’s most elite programs over the past six years. Since making its first Omaha appearance back in 2010, TCU has advanced to its third consecutive CWS, the only team in the field to accomplish that feat. This year marks the first time since 2010 that the Horned Frogs have clinched a spot by winning a Super Regional on the road.
Teams making their first CWS appearance: 2 (UCSB, Coastal Carolina)
The Gauchos and Chanticleers have shocked the college baseball world as they knocked out powerhouses Louisville and LSU respectively. Neither program had made it to Omaha before this season, and only Coastal Carolina had made the Super Regionals. The Chants fell to UNC in 2008 and South Carolina in 2010, while UC Santa Barbara just made its Super Regional debut this season.
Most College World Series appearances: Miami 25
Jim Morris and the Hurricanes have become synonymous with Omaha. The Hurricanes will travel to the CWS for the 25th time in program history and the second-most by any program. To put it into a little more perspective, Miami's 25 CWS bids are more than five of the teams in the field combined. Only Oklahoma State and Arizona come close to Miami's numbers with their 20th and 17th appearances respectively.