Thursday, June 21, 2012

Omaha World Series Underdogs

I first wrote this article a few days ago for a website I publish on occasionally. They weren't able to publish it quickly enough for it to be relevant, but I decided to publish it here instead so that the time I spent writing it isn't wasted. 

With the eight teams that are heading to Omaha now finalized and the College World Series underway, it's time to take a look at this year's crop of Championship hopefuls. Every team has its share of fans, but there are clear favorites to win. It's not over until the fat lady sings though, and the College World Series winner may not be who most are expecting. Below are three underdog teams that could come from behind for a win. 

Stony Brook Seawolves** - Though they lost their first game of the College World Series against UCLA, they'll get a second chance June 17th against the Seminoles. If they lose again the Seawolves will be leaving their first CWS without a trophy. There are plenty of fans rooting for them however, as the Seawolves are a true underdog with a made for TV story. 

For them it's a tale of many firsts. Not only is it the Stony Brook team's first trip to the CWS, but they are the first New York team since 1980 and the first North East team since 1986 to reach the College World Series. In fact, they are even the first CWS participant from the American East Conference. A Seawolves win would make not only their school, but their whole region very happy. 

Strong Seawolves players include center fielder Travis Jankowski, a junior and the first Stoney Brooke first round MLB pick for the San Diego Padres, and America East pitcher of the year Tyler Johnson, a senior, who's 2012 ERA is 1.78. 

Kent State Golden Flashes - Another regional sweetheart, the Kent State Golden Flashes are the first qualifier from Mid-American conference since 1976. It is also the team's first appearance ever at the CWS, giving them something in common with the Seawolves. After a narrow 3-2 win over Oregon on June 11th, the Flashes solidified their spot and are ready to represent their conference and their school. Their first game is on Saturday, June 16 against Arkansas. 

The journey to the CWS included a 21 inning game against Kentucky, the second longest game in the NCAA regional tournament, proving that Kent State players have the endurance to go all the way. 6'3 pitcher and team co-captain David Starn is one of the Golden Flashes' secret weapons and will be pitching during their first CWS game. He was named Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year in 2012. 

Florida State Seminoles - The Seminoles are not a typical underdog. They are part of a group of powerhouse Florida teams that include the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators, who are also attending the CWS this year. Including this year, they've made it as far as the College World Series an astounding 21 times but they've never managed to pull off a win. After losing their first 2012 CWS game on Friday night, they've got one more chance in their game on Sunday against Stoney Brooke. One of our two underdogs will be eliminated at the end of that game. 

No other team has qualified as many times without winning, though they've had the bittersweet honor of being runner up 3 times. FSU can't be happy about being the Susan Lucci of college baseball, though she did eventually win her Emmy. Might this finally be the year that the Seminoles win the College World Series? Fans can only hope. 

Team captain James Ramsey, a senior, will be leading the team to Omaha. He was named 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as well as being a two time Capital One Academic All-America of the Year winner. 

Only one team will emerge victorious. By Sunday at least one of the underdog teams will have been eliminated. Though it may not look likely that any of the three teams will walk away with the trophy, everything is possible. Remember, everyone loves an underdog. 

**Eliminated since I first wrote this article

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