As far as pedigree goes in college baseball, not many schools can top Texas or Arizona State. The Longhorns are tied for the second-most national titles in history with six and the Sun Devils are right behind them with five of their own. Texas also has he most wins in College World Series with 82 victories in Omaha, while Arizona St. is third with 61 CWS wins.
As much success as the two programs have had at the College World Series, only one be able to make it there in 2011 because the two are matched up in the Austin Super Regional. With a spot in Omaha on the line between two of the nation's most historic programs, it is no wonder that the best-of-three-games series is the highlight of Super Regional weekend (Game 1 between Texas and ASU is set for Friday at 7 p.m. ET).
Conveniently, the Longhorns and Sun Devils play the brand of baseball that their programs have become known for. Texas is full of flamethrowers, athletic guys who can pick it and they manufacture one run at a time. They bunt, they run and they play to the their ballpark. Disch-Falk Field is a big field and the turf plays fast, allowing the Longhorns to take advantage of balls on the ground and in the gaps where they can use their speed. And as a national seed, the Longhorns get this weekend's Super Regional at home
Arizona St. may not have the sluggers of old like Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Andre Ethier or Dustin Pedroia, but they have a little pop in their bats. Eight of their nine regular starters hit over .300 and they have two men with at least 20 steals and another two in double digits. They finished fifth in the country in triples and shouldn't have much an of issue playing in Texas' big ballpark. One of the nation's premier recruiting teams, it's also no surprise that both on the mound and at the plate Arizona St. goes 11 or 12 guys deep.
If nothing else, you can bet that Arizona St. won't collapse when faced with adversity either. They started off the season ineligible for the postseason after the NCAA hammered the program with sanctions following numerous rules violations under the previous coaching staff. An appeal stayed the penalties and while the NCAA continues to decide, the Sun Devils are able to play in the postseason. A season that started with no hope and an end date on the day before Memorial Day is still going, and might go on to Omaha.
It wasn't all smiles for the Sun Devils, though. They lost their final series of the season to UCLA, ending a string of four consecutive Pac-10 titles, and probably losing out on a national seed in the process. That's compared to Texas, who were Big 12 co-champions, the sixth time in seven years that they can claim a conference title.
Conference titles don't define the Texas and Arizona St. baseball programs though. They are defined by where their season ends. It is Omaha or bust for them both and this year, only one can make it.