Ridaught: CWS bid at stake this weekend

Earlier this week I got to attend the last few innings of the Florida baseball season. The Gators kept it interesting until the very end.

Florida was just two innings away from advancing to this weekend’s super regionals. Instead, Oklahoma defeated the Gators, 5-4, this past Monday to advance.

The Sooners (40-22) will travel to No. 4 national seed Virginia Tech (44-12), with game one of the best-of-three sold out series this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET (ESPN2). 

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The Sooners will make their first appearance in a super regional since 2013. 

Oklahoma was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12, but now they are one of just 16 teams remaining in the chase for a national title and two wins away from their 11th trip to the College World Series.

The Sooners are seeking their first trip to the CWS since 2010. The Hokies have never been.

East Carolina, which has won 21 of its last 22 games, is one of the hottest teams in college baseball. The No. 8 national seed Pirates (45-19) are hosting their first super regional.

ECU, which holds the record for most tournament appearances (32) without making it to Omaha, will host No. 9 national seed Texas at noon on Friday (ESPN2). 

Top-ranked Tennessee (56-7) trailed by four runs in back-to-back games at the Knoxville Regional, but the Vols scored 10 ninth-inning runs over two games to advance to their second straight super regional.

They will host Notre Dame, which beat No. 16 seed Georgia Southern to advance, tonight at 6 p.m. (ESPN2). 

Irish coach Link Jarrett thinks the Vols were the best No. 1 team in all of college sports.

Tennessee is one of five SEC teams to make it to the super regionals.

Auburn won a regional on its home field for the first time since 1999. The No. 14 seed Tigers (40-19) will travel to No. 3 seed Oregon State on Saturday.

“It’s national championship or bust,” said Auburn coach Butch Thompson. “If you just play the Omaha game, get to Omaha, it can be like ’19 or other times I’ve been where it’s two and a barbecue. At some point in time, you have to move your program to start really envisioning the thing that I’ve been saying the whole time. 

“It’s my Les Brown quote: ‘People don’t fail because they aim high and miss. It’s because they aim low and hit.’ I need to make sure I don’t underscore the potential of this team of what I saw this weekend.”

Since 2008, Florida has made the most CWS appearances with seven.

Right behind the Gators are Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas with five appearances each. 

Arkansas, which is the only team in the country to advance to the super regionals in each of the past four postseasons (2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022), will travel to No. 10 North Carolina beginning on Saturday at 10 a.m. (ESPN).

The Razorbacks (41-19) and Tar Heels (42-20) will meet for the first time in 33 years. They are both making their 10th super regional appearance in school history, which ties for eighth most among all Division I college baseball programs.

Southern Miss, the No. 11 overall seed, hosts Ole Miss on Saturday, where demand for tickets is far, far higher than the number of tickets available for sale. Southern Miss is in the super regionals for the first time since 2009.

The other super regional involving an SEC team is Texas A&M.

The No. 5 seed Aggies (40-18) will host No. 12 seed Louisville (42-19-1) tonight at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, is one of the toughest places to play in college baseball.

The top five national seeds are still alive, including No. 2 Stanford, which hosts UCONN beginning at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday (ESPNU).

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