by Max - 06/16/2005
The field of eight teams was set last weekend for the 2005 College World Series. This year's field features seven newcomers, as only Texas was able to punch its ticket for a return trip. The field is also very familiar with one another, as only four conferences will be represented. This includes three entries from the Big XII Conference. The following will examine the eight teams in the 2005 College World Series field analyzing the strengths and weakness of each participant.
Arizona State Sun Devils (39-23)
The Sun Devils have to be the most surprising entrant of the eight teams participating this week in the 2005 College World Series. This team blew a one-run lead going into the bottom on the ninth on Friday night against defending champion Cal State Fullerton. This loss was painful because the go ahead run crossed the plate on a balk call. However, the Sun Devils regrouped and won two straight games against the Titans, the last coming in a similar fashion where ASU hung on for a one-run victory. Fullerton had ended the Sun Devils season three times in the last four year and ASU is riding high after climbing over this huge hurdle.
ASU will not scare any teams with their offense, as they have little power outside of Jeff Larish. To be successful in Omaha, this team will need to keep the scores down meaning the pitching staff will have to dominate.
Florida Gators (45-20)
The Gators took the SEC Crown because of strong depth throughout their line-up. This is also the blueprint for success in Omaha, as games are played for ten days straight. Matt LaPorta was second in the nation in home runs with 24 and also ranked high in slugging at .706. The Gators win games by outscoring their opponents and that may hurt them when they match-up against other team's aces. Florida does not offer a dominating starter but does have a strong bullpen.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (56-13)
Nebraska returns to Omaha for the third time in five years and will have the home crowd on their side throughout the 2005 College World Series. This team started the season with a 19-2 record and carried that momentum over into Big XII play. This team wins games because of their pitching staff, which possess an E.R.A. of 2.61. The Huskers have two front end starters in Joba Chamberlain and Johnny Dorn. This goes hand-in-hand with the nation's best defense and this team has to be considered one of the favorites to take the crown.
Tennessee Volunteers (46-19)
This team finished second in the South Eastern Conference and wins games via their pitching staff. They have a full fledged ace in Luke Hochevar, who leads this team with a 15-2 record.
The only question mark about this team in their depth and that could possibly play a role as the 2005 College World Series winds down. This team may have to change its approach and try to out hit its opponents. That is something this team is capable of doing since it leads all teams in batting with a .333 average.
Baylor Bears (44-22)
Baylor makes its first trip to Omaha after losing two hard fought game threes in the Super Regional the past six years. This team will not scare anyone with their power but can manufacture runs with the best of teams. This team draws a favorable match-up right off the bat with Texas, a team they are very familiar with and a team they have already beaten four times this year.
For Baylor to be successful at the 2005 College World Series, it all comes down to pitching. The Bears held Clemson to one run in each of their two super regional victories and that is the way Baylor can win games in Omaha. It is important for them to win game one against Texas, a team full of CWS experience.
Oregon State Beavers (45-10)
The Beavers are making a trip to Omaha for the first time in over 50 years. This team was expected to finish near the bottom of the Pac 10. However, numerous questions have to be answered about this team and the first being their strength of schedule.
Pitching is not one of those questions as OSU ranked sixth nationally with an E.R.A. of 3.08. A low scoring game is how this team can be successful allowing them to utilize their team speed to scratch out one run victories.
Texas Longhorns (51-16)
The Horns are traveling north for the fourth consecutive year including winning five straight elimination games. This team draws a tough opponent in round one facing the Baylor Bears, a team that has beaten them four times this season. The Horns started off the season on fire winning 21 of their first 22 games. This team ranks fourth in E.R.A. and has a dominating closer in Brent Cox. Texas has shown great heart to make it this far, but I have to wonder if they used too much energy to make it to Omaha and will have nothing left for the 2005 College World Series.
Tulane Green Wave (55-10)
The Green Wave enters Nebraska as one of the teams to beat in 2005. The team has a line-up filled with talent and that was evident by them hitting .321 as a team. Seven of their nine hitters boast an on-base percentage over .400. This team is led by two-way standout Brain Bogusevic, who is 13-2 and can swing the bat as well.
The Green Wave were ranked No. 1 to start the baseball season and have done very little to disappoint voters. This team has had one goal in mind all season long and anything less then a championship would be a disappointment.