For all the balance of Bracket 1, this half of the tournament looks more like me on a see-saw with Rosanne Barr. Bracket 2 features arguably the top two and the bottom two teams in Omaha.
Looking ahead, I don’t see how this doesn’t come down to a UVA vs South Carolina battle and that would be worth seeing. The longer format gives A&M a chance without Stilson, but I just can’t go Ben Kenobi and wave my hand over that FSU loss.
Looking ahead, if Bracket 1 is as competitive as anticipated, then the winner of Bracket 2 could have an advantage in the championship series.
Record: 54-10 / 26-8
Team ERA: 2.26
Opponent Average: .212
Team Batting: .306
Runs per game: 7.13
Fielding percentage: .980
Season Summary: The ‘Hoos were assured of having the best season in program-history, then they finished the ACC season by being swept at UNC. They rebounded by sweeping through the ACC tournament.
Quick hits: - This is the winningest team in UVA program-history.
- UVA is an excellent hitting club with two outs (33 of 42 tourney runs).
- 14-5 in one-run games in 2011.
- UVA has pitched 16 shutouts (NCAA leader).
My initial takke: They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. Incredibly well-balanced across all three phases.
California Golden Bears
Record: 37-21 / 13-14
Team ERA: 2.82
Opponent Average: .236
Team Batting: .288
Runs per game: 5.59
Fielding percentage: .974
Season Summary: The Bears rolled along nicely until they got to the heart of their conference schedule. This team lost every Pac 10 series to teams at the top of the conference. Then they get hot, got a favorable draw and have now won six in a row since dropping the opener in Regional play.
Quick hits: - This will be Cal’s first trip to the CWS since 1992.
- Cal dropped their opener in Regional play to Baylor and has won six straight games since that loss.
- The Golden Bears haven’t won a CWS game since 1980.
My initial takke: Cal needs to bottle some of Fresno State’s 2008 juju and hope for the best.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Record: 50-14 / 23-10
Team ERA: 2.60
Opponent Average: .229
Team Batting: .296
Runs per game: 6.20
Fielding percentage: .973
Season Summary: South Carolina’s season looks a lot like the Longhorns – one misstep in conference play (Ole Miss), and nothing but series wins beyond that. The Gamecocks won regualar season series against both Florida and Vanderbilt.
Quick hits: - South Carolina is the defending national champion and has been to Omaha five times with Head Coach Ray Tanner.
- Dating back to last year at the CWS, South Carolina has won 11 straight postseason games.
- All-everything center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (the CWS’ 2010 MOP) has taken soft toss and is on track to travel with the team. JBJ hasn’t played since late April.
My initial takke: Ric Flair, imo.
Texas A&M Aggies
Record: 47-20 / 23-8
Team ERA: 2.88
Opponent Average: .242
Team Batting: .293
Runs per game: 5.94
Fielding percentage: .976
Season Summary: The Aggies cruised through a memorable season with relative ease until they needed to beat Texas in a weekend series. They rebounded nicely though by winning the conference tournament and 9 of 11 postseason games overall.
Quick hits: - This will be A&M’s first trip to the CWS since 1999.
- The Aggies were the only road team to win a Super Regional.
- With John Stilson still injured, freshman Derrick Hadley will need to excel as the team’s third starter.
My initial takke: Big picture perspective says that the Farmers can win one game and point to this season as "the next step". Without Stilson they aren’t a threat to do more.