Super regionals are the next stop on the NCAA baseball tournament’s Road to Omaha.
Four of the best-of-three series are Friday through Sunday: No. 15 national seed South Carolina (42-19) at No. 2 Florida (48-15); Duke (38-22) at No. 7 Virginia (48-12); Oral Roberts (49-11) at Oregon (40-20); No. 14 Indiana State (45-15) at TCU (40-22).
The four series Saturday through Monday: No. 16 Alabama (43-19) at No. 1 Wake Forest (50-10); Texas (41-20) at No. 8 Stanford (42-17); No. 12 Kentucky (40-19) at No. 5 LSU (46-15); Tennessee (41-19) at Southern Mississippi (45-18).
The eight winners advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, starting June 16.
Three of the super regionals match teams from the same conference: South Carolina-Florida and Kentucky-LSU from the Southeastern and Duke-Virginia from the Atlantic Coast.
South Carolina swept the three-game series with the Gators in Columbia in April, when the Gamecocks were in the midst of their 34-6 start. Prior to that, South Carolina had lost 16 of 24 games to the Gators, but the Gamecocks lead the series 54-51.
LSU won two of three against Kentucky in Baton Rouge in April and leads the series 57-32-1.
Duke took two of three in Charlottesville in April as part of a season-best eight-game win streak. Virginia leads the series 112-69-1, including 65-24 at home.
ON A ROLL
Oral Roberts, only the eighth No. 4 regional seed to make it to supers under the current format (1999), is riding the nation’s longest win streak at 21 and has won 39 of its last 42.
Oregon has won nine straight after dropping five in a row. TCU has won nine in a row and 17 of 19.
Wake Forest has proved worthy of its No. 1 seed, and then some.
Tom Walter’s Demon Deacons outscored their first three opponents 48-7, batted .376, had a .503 on-base percentage, allowed 4.76 hits per nine innings and struck out 50.
Pierce Bennett, whose .330 batting average entering the tournament was fourth-best on the team, batted .769 to lead all players in regionals. Justin Johnson drove in 13 runs. Seth Keener led all pitchers in regionals with 13 strikeouts.
Brock Wilken and Nick Kurtz combined for 50 of the team’s 110 homers through the ACC Tournament. Neither hit one in the regional.
BEEN HERE, DONE THAT
LSU’s 16 super-regional appearances rank second all-time to Florida State’s 17; Stanford and South Carolina are tied for third with 14; Texas is sixth with 13 and Florida is eighth with 11.
Texas has won the most games in super regionals and has the second-best winning percentage (23-8, .742) behind Tennessee (7-2, .778) among teams that have played at least four games.
HAVE BAT, WILL TRAVEL
Indiana State is the only team making its first appearance in supers. The Sycamores would have hosted TCU if it weren’t for the school’s commitment to host the Indiana Special Olympics this weekend.
The Sycamores shouldn’t be intimidated. Their 23-7 road record (.767) is best in the country and includes a win at national power Vanderbilt.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Much like the Oral Roberts men’s basketball team that reached the 2021 Sweet 16, the Golden Eagles of the Summit League are the lovable underdogs heading into supers.
The small evangelical school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, started playing baseball in 1966 and has a proud history and even reached the CWS in 1978. More than two dozen ORU alums have appeared in the major leagues.
The Golden Eagles play in a conference ranked 28th out of 30 in RPI, so they had to win the Summit League Tournament to get into nationals. No one knows better than Oklahoma State that they’re not an easy out. ORU beat OSU three times this season, including in the regional opener in Stillwater.
ORU is the best fielding team in the nation (.984), in the top five in batting (.324) and ERA (3.83) and in the top 50 of almost every other major category. Names to know are Jonah Cox, who’s batting .424, and Cade Denton, who shares the national lead with 15 saves.
Six of the top seven college prospects for the amateur draft are in super regionals, according to MLB.com.
CF Dylan Crews and RHP Paul Skenes, both of LSU, are projected to be the first two players selected and followed by Florida OF Wyatt Langford.
Tennessee RHP Chase Dollander, Wake Forest RHP Rhett Lowder and C Kyle Teel also are expected to be high picks.
Alabama has won 13 of 17 games under interim coach Jason Jackson, who took over after Brad Bohannon was fired for allegedly violating NCAA rules against sports wagering.
DOING IT THE HARD WAY
If Stanford loses Game 1 to Texas, the Cardinal will have the Longhorns right where they want them. Just kidding, kind of.
Stanford won five elimination games on its way to the 2022 CWS, and the Cardinal won three in regionals this year.
If this super regional goes to a Game 3, remember that Stanford is 11-0 in winner-take-all postseason games played at home.