2012 CWS: Northern Teams Join Traditionally Southern Showdown
Over its more than half-a-century of existence, the NCAA Division 1 Men’s College World Series has undergone plenty of transformations.
The competition field shifted from the initial Kalamazoo, Mich., site to Wichita, Kan., to its current stage — Omaha, Neb. Then in 2011, the entire realm of college baseball received a facelift in the form of metal-bat restrictions and a 20-second pitch clock. This year, the instant replay will make its debut at the CWS. However, one post-season trend has remained fairly consistent: Southern presence. Southern college baseball teams have been top performers year after year on the diamond, especially when it comes to the CWS.
Just check out the chunk of winners from the past three years:
2011: South Carolina
2010: South Carolina
2009: Louisiana State
But this year, Northern teams are making headlines with their super regional wins and passes to Omaha. Along with competitors South Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Arizona, Arkansas and UCLA, enters Northern squads Kent State and Stony Brook, stemming from Ohio and New York, respectively.
According to Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, no program rooting from Ohio or further Northeast has clocked in at Omaha since Maine in 1986. Fitt entertains that the Northern invasion (OK, duo) may be attributed to an unusually warm winter, thus allowing for outdoor baseball practices as early as February (the norm for the Southern schools.)
But Fitt quotes Kent State coach Scott Stricklin who pins this year’s CWS Northern company to a more even distribution of solid players throughout the nation.
“I think it shows that parity in college baseball does exist. And that’s something that we talked about a few years ago as coaches, with the scholarships, with the roster limits, with all those things that are put into play — we wanted this to be a national game. Now, I don’t know how many coaches in the Southeast and the West actually wanted that to happen, but that’s what’s happening. You’re seeing players that are spread out a little more evenly.” — Kent State coach Scott Stricklin
Though, the top-three national seeds still aren’t in favor of those Yankees just yet.
3. Florida State
Despite the fact Stony Brook and Kent State are sweeping headlines as this year’s CWS Cinderellas, when push comes to shove, can they dominate those Southern powerhouses? It’s one thing to make it to Omaha, but it’s another feat to actually leave with the title.