I realize that many folks- especially those in what I will call the “Yankee” (read: “cold”) region of the country- may not know much about college baseball. But in the South (as well as California and Arizona), college baseball is a big deal. You get all the tradition, atmosphere and rivalries that go along with college athletics, without the egos and entitlement of the majors. It’s like minor league baseball with a little less desperation and a little more innocence (and without the annoying ballpark promotions and mascots). If you’ve never been to the College World Series in Omaha, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest experiences.
So Andie and I will be giving you the hard sell, to try and entice you over to the beauty that is college baseball with periodic roundups and hottie features. Do not fear the aluminum bat- you can love the PING! as well as the CRACK!
First up, bringing you up to speed:
* It is the best of times and the worst of times for South Carolina. The Gamecocks snagged the #1 spot away from Vanderbilt in the Baseball America poll (which I will always default to) and the Rivals Top 25, after going 4-1 on the week (with their only loss against fellow SEC squad Mississippi State in a 12-inning shootout). Unfortunately, in a double-barrel shot worthy of the Fulmer Cup, two highly touted freshmen players were dismissed from the team after being charged on multiple counts of burglary and grand larceny (including stealing $3,100 from an assistant baseball coach’s locker) [more]. College baseball has more in common with college football than I thought…
* Coolest nickname ever? Long Beach State Dirtbags. Come on now, that’s just awesome. Not awesome enough, however, to keep them from dropping down to #23 after losing 2 of 3 games against (Cal State) Fullerton.
Don’t we all?
* Arkansas is on a hot streak after beating number one Vanderbilt, which gave the Hogs their second straight series victory over a ranked SEC opponent and moved them up to #7.
* The highest-ranking non-major conference team continues to be the Wichita State Shockers (at #10), who will face Kansas State today, and Bradley this weekend.
* Clemson coach Jack Leggett became the 29th Division I coach to reach 1,000-wins with the Tigers victory over the Terps of Maryland last week. But, that was their only win- and Clemson took a tumble down to #11 after losing the rest of their games.Looking ahead, most of the out-of-conference games are out of the way, and most teams are (or will shortly be) moving into conference play. Big matchups to look out for this week:
March 27 – #8 Rice at #9 Texas
March 30 – April 1: #1 South Carolina hosts #3 Vanderbilt
March 30 – April 1: #9 Texas hosts #17 Oklahoma
March 30 – April 1: #23 Long Beach State at #24 UC Irvine
And the Diamond Doll this week is…
Ole Miss, pitcher