If you’ve never traveled to Omaha and don’t really want to, I suppose that’s fine. You can watch the final rounds of the College World Series on the ESPN of your choice when the time comes. However, prior to the main event, college baseball brings the action to us via the Regionals and Super Regionals.
The NCAA baseball championship bracket looks similar to the basketball version, with 64 teams (and no play-in!). However, each region sports four teams, seeded one through four, and the Regional is double-elimination, so the drama is not quite as intense. Generally speaking, the 1 seeds in each region host the games at their home stadium, though sometimes nearby neutral sites are chosen for various reasons.
Anyway, I thought it might be nice to take a look at the #1 seeds in each region, just to get a feel for who they are and where they play. Some college stadiums are nicer than minor league parks, so I’ll dig up photos whenever I can. Here they are, your #1 Regional seeds for the NCAA baseball tournament:
Location: Hawkins Field in Nashville, TN.
The SEC champs dominated the regular-season rankings and come into the tournament hot. They also have a dancing hotdog who performs with Commander Ketchup and Musta Rhymes at games. Let’s hope he travels with the team, because that is going to kill in Omaha. Kill.
Some Major Leaguers from Vandy: Joey Cora, Mark Prior, Matt Kata. The Full List
Location: Davenport Field in Charlottesville, VA.
I live in Charlottesville, and have been to many a UVA baseball game, so I’m obviously biased in hoping they do well. It doesn’t bode well that the Cavs had problems with the top of the ACC, however. Florida schools tend to give them fits, and they lost out to North Carolina in the ACC tournament. Davenport field should give them an advantage in the short term, at least. Fun fact: Davenport was built with the aid of a hefty donation from novelist John Grisham during his son Ty’s undistinguished tenure with the team.
MLB Alums: Most notably, Ryan Zimmerman. Also some made-up sounding names like Buck Rogers and Mul Holland. see list
Location: Blair Field in Long Beach, CA.
Officially named the 49ers, Long Beach prefers to be known as the Dirtbags. Their regional field includes other notable warm-weather schools such as UCLA, Pepperdine, and… Illinois-Chicago? Well, I guess the shores of Lake Michigan are technically a beach.
MLB alums: Many. See Steve Trachsel, Jason Giambi, Jered Weaver and Troy Tulowitzki just to name a few. the list
Location: Brock Ballpark in Tempe, AZ.
The Sun Devils crank out ballplayers like nobody’s business. And who can blame a guy for wanting to play in the warm climate of Tempe in February? It pretty much rules. ASU has won it all 5 times, lagging behind only Texas and USC.
MLB alums: The Sun Devils are the straw that stirs the MLB drink. They produced Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds, as well as current major leaguers like Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Paul Lo Duca. Throw in OMDQ favorite Kevin Romine, and The list is truly impressive
Location: Swayze Field in Oxford, MS.
Swayze Field is named after former Ole Miss coach Tom Swayze, not Patrick Swayze, as is commonly believed. Ole Miss ran into the Vanderbilt buzzsaw in the conference tournament, but rode a strong season and a national ranking into their fourth straight selection as a regional host.
MLB alums: Currently, David Delucci and Bobby Kielty. Historically, guys named Skeeter, Hub, and Laddie. The list
Location: Eck Stadium in Wichita, KS
Giggle about “The Shockers” if you must. But baseball is a big deal in Wichita. I spent many of my formative years there, and I’m pretty sure the Shocks could beat the Royals’ AA farm team the Wichita Wranglers in a best-of-seven series. The ballpark is super nice, too. Much like the other black and gold team (Vandy), they have a championship-caliber bowling team as well.
MLB alums: Joe Carter, Doug Mirabelli, Braden Looper, and Casey Blake. The list
Location: Round Rock Stadium, home of the AAA Round Rock Express.
The Longhorns have won this thing six times, and strike a dashing figure in their burnt orange unis. If you make it to Austin for the games, you’ll have your choice of great BBQ and music galore as well. Sounds like a done deal to me.
MLB alums: Ron Gardenhire (manager of the Twins), Roger Clemens, Huston Street. The list
That’s just the left side of my brackets, but the post is getting a bit long, so the rest will come in tomorrow, most likely. If you get a chance to attend a regional, you’ll get to see a lot of great baseball. After one winner comes out of the regional, they move into the super-regional round of 16 for a three-game series against the winner of the adjacent regional. The remaining eight go on to Omaha.
Read part 2, featuring all the Carolinas you can shake a stick at.
Games begin over the weekend of June 1-4, so be on the lookout for games near you!