Baylor, OU, TCU begin Super Regionals
Los Angeles Super Regional
TCU vs. UCLA (ESPN/ESPN3, 8 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Saturday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 8 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Sunday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 9 p.m. CT) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Horned Frogs shared the Mountain West regular-season title and bounced back from a regional-opening loss to Ole Miss to win four straight at the College Station Regional. TCU hammered Dayton 28-12, then took out Texas A&M 10-2 before back-to-back wins over the Rebels to earn the trip to Los Angeles.
Star player: Just like in 2010, when TCU advanced to Omaha behind the left arm of freshman Matt Purke, frosh Preston Morrison helps lead the way on the mound. The right-hander is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts and 11 relief appearances.
Weapon: Jim Schlossnagle's work in Fort Worth over the past decade is nothing short of spectacular. With just two regional berths before 2004, TCU has made the postseason nine straight years and qualified for three super regionals in the past four years, including a trip to Omaha in 2010.
Weakness: Inconsistency has hurt the Horned Frogs. While TCU was often up to the task against top competition, beating Cal State Fullerton, Baylor and Oklahoma before the regional run, it also lost to the likes of San Diego State and UNLV.
How they got here: The Bruins earned the No. 2 national seed on the strength of a 20-10 Pac-12 mark, then dispatched Creighton twice and New Mexico to win the Los Angeles Regional and advance to super regionals for the second time in three years.
Star player: Junior right fielder Jeff Gelalich, a veteran of UCLA's CWS runner-up squad from 2010, was named MVP of the regional last weekend for hitting .455 with two homers and seven RBIs. For the year, he's hitting .372 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs.
Weapon: Youth has been served on the UCLA pitching staff. Reliever David Berg and starter Grant Watson earned freshman All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball this week. Berg, a right-hander, is 5-3 with a 1.71 ERA and has set the Pac-12 record for single-season appearances. Watson, a lefty, is 9-2 while starting 15 games.
Weakness: Go ahead and try to get into a high-scoring battle with the Bruins; it's your best shot. After cleanup hitter Gelalich, the remainder of the UCLA offense has managed 12 home runs in 59 games.
Waco Super Regional
Arkansas vs. Baylor (ESPNU/ESPN3, 4 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN3, 3 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Monday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Razorbacks finished 16-14 in the treacherous SEC and won the Houston Regional as a No. 2 seed. Arkansas beat host Rice 1-0 in the key game behind sophomore pitcher Ryan Stanek and topped Sam Houston State in the final.
Star player: Junior third baseman Matt Reynolds leads the Hogs in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (.343), home runs (7), RBIs and (42). He's even stolen 15 bases, another team high.
Weapon: The bullpen doesn't lose many leads behind a trio of sophomore right-handers: Brandon Moore, 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA; Colby Suggs, 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA; and Barrett Astin, who has a team-best 10 saves.
Weakness: Offensively, coach Dave Van Horn's club has struggled to find a rhythm at times. The Razorbacks hit .277 as a team, 138th nationally. Just two regulars are hitting better than .300.
How they got here: The Bears, seeded fourth in the tournament, won the Big 12 at 20-4 after starting league play with 18 straight wins. In the Waco Regional, Baylor lost its opener to Oral Roberts but came back to win four straight, capped by a pair of victories over Dallas Baptist, 9-2 and 8-2.
Star player: Senior catcher Josh Ludy drives a productive offense. He's hitting .368 with a team-best 15 home runs and 69 RBIs.
Weapon: What a luxury for coach Steve Smith to count two ace pitchers. Junior lefty Josh Turley is 9-1 with a 1.83 ERA, and senior right-hander Trent Blank is 10-1 with a 2.32 ERA. Together, they've thrown 200 innings.
Weakness: It remains to be seen whether the Bears' four-game run in regional play signals the start of another hot streak. After losing one game between March 16 and May 9, Baylor then lost seven of 12 until last Saturday.
Columbia Super Regional
Oklahoma vs. South Carolina (ESPNU/ESPN3, 7 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN3, 6 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Monday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 6 p.m. CT) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Sooners swept Baylor late and reached final of the Big 12 tournament to secure an at-large regional berth, then lost in the first round to Appalachian State and needed 10 innings to stave off elimination against Army. But OU beat host Virginia and twice got past the Mountaineers to advance.
Star player: Junior center fielder Max White has started 64 of 65 games. He's batting .339 with 55 RBIs.
Weapon: Sophomore Dillon Overton has surged of late to help stabilize an OU pitching staff that has allowed the Sooners to win 24 of 33 games. Overton struck out 11 against Virginia in the Charlottesville Regional and fanned 15 in two appearances at the Big 12 tournament.
Weakness: Behind White and freshman Hunter Lockwood, with 11 home runs, there's not much firepower in the lineup. The Sooners hit .265 as a team and utilize 13 players who have started 10 games or more.
South Carolina (43-17)
How they got here: The two-time defending national champion Gamecocks finished behind only LSU in the SEC standings at 18-11. South Carolina then dispatched Manhattan and beat rival Clemson twice in the Columbia regional to advance.
Star player: Junior first baseman Christian Walker anchors the Carolina lineup. He's hitting .319 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs.
Weapon: Nobody who's playing this weekend has enjoyed postseason success like the Gamecocks. Veterans Walker, Evan Marzilli, Adam Matthews and Michael Roth have played key roles over three years in South Carolina's streak of 19 consecutive wins in NCAA postseason play.
Weakness: Perhaps it's Florida, which fell in two games to South Carolina last year in the CWS finals. Since then, the Gators have defeated the Gamecocks in three of four meetings, including a series win in Columbia in March. Incidentally, South Carolina, seeded No. 8, would meet Florida in an opening-round CWS game if both teams advance to Omaha.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Bob Stoops' recent comments about the SEC and the pending college football playoff, what appears to be an unpredictable Big 12 in 2013, how the Aggies will handle expectations and more.
Play Podcast Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the improvements being made to Kyle Field, what those improvements will to for the program, the success of last year, Johnny Manziel's offseason and the expectations for the Aggies in 2013.
Play Podcast Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Texas A&M's decision to expand its stadium and say although the Aggies had a fantastic year, the school must also be careful not to overextend its resources based on a single hot stretch.
Play Podcast Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.
Play Podcast Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.
Play Podcast Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his school's Cinderella story and playing in the Sweet 16 at Cowboys Stadium.
Play Podcast Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins Fizsimmons & Durrett to discuss Cowboys Stadium as a venue, the state of Big 12 basketball, the new 2014 college football format, why there's no hurry to have a Big 12 football championship and much more.
Play Podcast Jay Bilas joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, the intrigue surrounding the Northwest Region and the excitement over FGCU, even though a similar story happens every year.