The 2017 road to Omaha has been paved. Sixty four teams entered the 2017 NCAA Baseball Tournament just two short weeks ago. Now, as only eight teams remain, the time has come to travel the road to Omaha to crown a champion atop the college baseball mountain.
Teams across America began their trek down the road to Omaha in February, with hopes of reaching the sport’s pinnacle as the calendar turned to June. From early season tournaments to the heat of conference play, teams skilled their crafts and notched big wins into their tournament resumes in hopes of hearing their name come selection Monday. Some familiar faces to the NCAA Tournament and College World Series are among those arriving Omaha, while others are making a journey longer in the making than just last season.
An event so unique to the sport of college baseball, the College World Series has taken place in Omaha, Nebraska since 1950 upon the opening of Rosenblatt Stadium, the event’s home for 60 years, before moving to new TD Ameritrade Park in 2010. The College World Series features the atmosphere of a major sporting event or fair, combined with the heart and soul of hundreds of student athletes vying for a national championship, in one of the heartland’s great cities. The 2017 College World Series is set, fun must be had, and a winner must now be crowned.
Oregon State (54-4)
The Beavers of Oregon State have been the team to beat in 2017. Following a monstrous regular season, claiming the Pac 12 regular season championship, and sweeping through the NCAA Tournament’s Corvallis regional and super-regional over Vanderbilt. At 54-4, the Oregon State Beavers are the favorites to win the 2017 College World Series. However, controversy surrounding star pitcher Luke Heimlich may cause a distraction for college baseball’s best team heading into Omaha.
Cal State Fullerton (39-22)
To Omaha we go! pic.twitter.com/VomnpMxU8Y
— Titan Baseball (@BaseballTitans) June 11, 2017
Once a media darling, now a mainstay in college baseball, the Cal State Fullerton Titans are once again heading to Omaha, hoping for another national championship, following a series win over the Long Beach State Dirtbags.
Following a mid-season slump leaving many Tiger fans questioning whether the LSU Tigers could make a run to the tournament, let alone Omaha. Under the leadership of LSU captain Kramer Robertson, the LSU Tigers surged through the latter half of the SEC schedule and NCAA Tournament, making them the hottest team heading into the week.
Florida State (45-21)
FSU set a Super Regional record with a 19-run win over Sam Houston Sunday to reach its 22nd CWS.
— FSU Baseball (@FSUBaseball) June 12, 2017
Despite finishing 5th in the ACC Coastal Division, the Florida State Seminoles held their sights on Omaha, including facing a pesky Sam Houston State squad. The Seminoles put any dreams to bed for the Bearkats as they pounced their way through the Tallahassee super-regional with a 19-run win to seal the super-regional.
Following an incredible 52-10 season, and an ACC Regular Season Title, the Louisville Cardinals faced an unexpected foe in the 2017 super-regional, the Kentucky Wildcats. In an emotionally fought victory, the Cardinals stamped their way to Omaha past their in-state foes in their own friendly confines.
Texas A&M (41-21)
After two excruciating super-regional losses to TCU in 2015 and 2016, and losing a majority of its roster to graduation or the MLB Draft, the Texas A&M Aggies may be the most unexpected team in this year’s CWS field. As one of the last four teams into the tournament, the Aggies swept through the NCAA Tournament with wins over Baylor, Iowa, Houston and a super-regional sweep over Davidson.
NCAA RT NCAACWS: THE GATORS ARE GOING BACK TO OMAHA!
— Beyond the Whistle (@BTW_Sports) June 13, 2017
The last team to advance to Omaha, the Florida Gators catapulted their way to another College World Series Berth on Monday evening over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Florida Gators have been a mainstay in college baseball, and are one of four national seeds in the tournament to reach Omaha.
The TCU Horned Frogs are reaching Omaha for the fourth straight season, following a super-regional victory against mid-major powerhouse Missouri State. The Horned Frogs feature a sophomore fenom in Luken Baker, who battled injury all season. Despite these injuries, the Horned Frogs finished tied for first in the Big 12 regular season championship race, and are heading to a common destination in Omaha, Nebraska.
Road cut short…
Davidson (lost in College Station super-regional)
The media darling of the 2017 NCAA Tournament following a stunning Chapel Hill regional win over North Carolina, the Davidson Wildcats ran out of steam in College Station, losing 0-2 to the Texas A&M Aggies.
Vanderbilt (lost in Corvallis super-regional)
Perennial CWS contender Vanderbilt ran into a buzzsaw over the weekend, losing 0-2 to the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.
Iowa (lost in Houston regional)
Following a hot finish to Big Ten play, including a Big Ten Tournament Championship, a former perennial doormat in the Iowa Hawkeyes fell short of advancing to the super-regionals. Given talent on the roster, and a great coach, look for the Iowa Hawkeyes to make noise in future seasons.
Three things to watch for in Omaha
Oregon State drama
Without star pitcher Luke Heimlich, will Oregon State be able to put the breaking news about their pitcher behind them? The Beavers have enough star power to overcome this loss on paper, but a controversy of this magnitude (and severity) can linger over a team.
Since 2015, Texas A&M players and fans have brought bubble machines to games when the Aggies score. Now one of the great traditions in college baseball, look for a sea of bubbles when the Aggies score a run. Hopefully local Omaha Walmart and Target stores have stocked up on machines.
Locals in Omaha have been praying for weeks that the Tigers would reach Omaha once again. Tiger faithful has turned Omaha purple in the past, lining local businesses with loads of Tiger cash. Hopefully I can find some generous Tiger fans in the tailgating lots with a pot of gumbo as well… Nom nom.
Prediction Time: 2017 College Baseball National Champion LSU Tigers
My prediction for the 2017 College Baseball championship is the LSU Tigers, a team who hit their stride in the middle of the season, and has not looked back since, winning 18 of their last 19 games. The Tigers, led by the motivational leadership of captain Kramer Robertson, steamed through competition in the SEC and NCAA Tournament, impressing fans and experts alike. Whether Oregon State is capable of overcoming the incredibly uncomfortable and controversial story regarding Luke Heimlich, the LSU Tigers have hit their stride at the right time in America’s best baseball conference, and will take home the crown in Omaha.