Texas teams and Big 12 punch in road to Omaha on their GPS


Highlights

Longhorns, Red Raiders to host regional baseball tournaments.

Seven Texas clubs and 5 from Big 12, including Baylor, earn bids.

SEC dominates with record-tying 10 teams in field of 64.

TCU won’t go to its fifth consecutive College World Series, and Rice had one of the nation’s longest NCAA tournament streaks snapped.

Yet the 64-team NCAA baseball postseason field will have plenty of Texas and Big 12 teams trying to take the first steps on the road to Omaha.

Seven teams from the Lone Star State and five from the Big 12 made the cut Monday, with Texas and Texas Tech awarded regional hosting roles and Texas A&M coming to Austin. Baylor, the hottest team in the state, will head to the Pacific Northwest.

Last year a record-setting 10 teams from Texas were invited, and the Big 12 sent seven to the party, tying the all-time high for the conference.

This year some of those invitations were siphoned off by the SEC, which tied an NCAA record with 10 bids, although the league is unhappy with one that just missed the cut, Kentucky.

Florida (42-17), despite losing six of its last seven games, was given the No. 1 overall seed, ahead of Stanford (44-10), Oregon State (44-10-1) and Ole Miss (46-15). The Gators and Rebels are two of four SEC teams — Arkansas (39-18) and Georgia (37-19) are the others — with top-eight national seeds, putting them in line to host super regionals.

“The Gators were incredible the majority of the season and didn’t finish strong,” said Ray Tanner, chairman of the selection committee. “They were clearly the No. 1 seed with all the metrics considered.”

Texas Tech (39-17) just missed a top-eight seed, slotted No. 9 nationally. The Red Raiders will be home this week, though, starting against New Mexico State (40-20). Louisville (43-17), one of the toughest No. 2 seeds in the country, will play traditional MAC power Kent State (39-16).

Tech is making its fourth straight NCAA trip and trying to get to Omaha for the third time in five years.

First pitch for all the double-elimination regionals will be Friday.

Baylor (36-19) has been on a torrid stretch, winning 19 of its last 21 games, capped by an 11-inning, 6-5 win over TCU for its first Big 12 Tournament title Sunday. The Bears got a rough draw, however, shipped to Stanford, where the host is No. 2 overall in the nation. Baylor will open with Cal State Fullerton (32-23).

TCU (33-23), which has lived in Omaha for the past four Junes, came up agonizingly short. Season-ending injuries to star players hijacked the Horned Frogs’ campaign. And Rice (26-31-1) had been to the NCAA Tournament 23 years in a row, but the Owls struggled through 82-year-old Wayne Graham’s final season.

Oklahoma (36-23) is the three seed in Tallahassee, Fla., and will begin the double-elimination event against Mississippi State (31-25).

Houston (36-23), the AAC regular-season champ, drew the No. 3 in Chapel Hill, N.C., and an opening date with Purdue (37-19).

Missouri Valley runner-up Dallas Baptist and Oklahoma State were two of the last four teams in the field, according to the committee. The Patriots (40-19) are the three seed in Fayetteville, Ark., and will play Southern Miss (43-16). The Cowboys (29-24-10), who faded after leading the Big 12 entering May, are No. 3 in DeLand, Fla., and will face South Florida (35-20).

The first four out were Arizona (34-22), Illinois (33-20), Kentucky (34-22) and Central Florida (35-21). SEC fans jeered the Wildcats’ exclusion. Kentucky had the top RPI (30) of teams that didn’t make it and won series over national seeds Texas Tech and Georgia. But the Cats went just 13-17 in the rugged SEC.

“We put a lot of emphasis on conference achievement, and only one team with a sub.-500 league record got in,” Tanner said.

That was Texas A&M, which, like Kentucky, went 13-17 in the SEC. However, the Aggies beat three Top 25 teams in the conference tournament. A&M (39-20) will be in Austin as the No. 3 seed against Indiana (38-17), while Texas (37-20) takes on Texas Southern (27-26).



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