Doesn't it feel nice to have a successful team again? This morning WSU received an at-large bid to the NCAA baseball tournament. While the Cougs have to travel farther than they'd have hoped, it may not be a bad thing. Joining the Cougs are Arkansas, Kansas State, and Grambling State. Only two of the teams are ranked, with Arkansas at 19th in the Baseball America rankings and the Cougs at 24th. This may be a case of WSU having to travel farther to face a much easier draw.
- Arkansas assumes the host duties and has the home field advantage throughout the regionals. The Razorbacks come in at 40-18, losing their last two games of the regular season. Their lineup has some power, but their pitching staff (3.58 ERA) is nothing like what we just faced at UCLA. The Cougs should be very familiar with Arkansas, playing them four times last year, losing all four game. The last game came in the NCAA regionals in Norman, OK. If you're in to common opponents, the Razorbacks played California, whom the Cougs swept, and won two of three at Berkley early in the season.
- Kansas State comes into the NCAA tournament at 36-20. In the Big 12 tournament, they capped their regular season with a win over Kansas and losses to Oklahoma and Baylor. They do have a few quality wins, taking one of three against Oklahoma and the same against Texas. Their pitching staff runs an ERA above 5 and doesn't strike many people out, so that plays in our favor. The lineup also isn't one that will out-muscle opponents. WSU has some added motivation, playing for Nuss after KSU dropped the ball and cost him a trip to Las Vegas during the NCAA tournament.
- There isn't much to say about Grambling State. They made the tournament by running the table in the SWAC conference tournament after a poor season. They hold a losing record of 22-29 and wouldn't be here had they not won the games that mattered in the conference tournament. I also had no idea Grambling State had a Division 1 baseball team.
There's your quick look around the regional. While the Cougs do have to travel 1800 miles to get there, the opponents seem to be a good matchups for them. The road to Omaha begins on Friday against Kansas State. Stay tuned here all week for more in depth coverage of both the Cougs and their opponents leading up to Friday's game.
Edit: Read Grippi's article on the team making the tournament, too. He's got quotes from Marbut and the team, with good information as always.