Florida: Season Record: 47-18
CWS Appearances: Seven, No Titles
Ranked as the best team in college baseball entering the playoffs, the Gators have continued to show why they belong on top. Following last season's grueling championship loss to SEC East rival South Carolina, Florida will be gunning to take home the title for the first time in its history off high caliber pitching and explosive hitting.
Overall, UF is, by far, the most balanced team in this College World Series. Offensively, Florida revolves around their "big three" power hitters. Seniors Daniel Pigott (.323) and Preston Tucker (.319) along with junior Mike Zunino (.322) have combined so far for 43 home runs and 153 RBI on the year, making them one of the most dangerous trios in the country.
The Gators pitching staff also boasts an impressive reputation. Led by juniors Hudson Randall (9-2) and Brian Johnson (8-4) in addition to senior Greg Larson (6-0), Florida owns arguably the most experienced group in the CWS. Junior reliever Austin Maddox (3-3) should also be of note as he has compiled a big-time 12 saves over the course of the season.
Statistically, Florida ranks first in lowest overall ERA (2.90) as well as highest total home runs (75) among CWS teams. The Gators also rank second in fielding percentage (.979). Junior Mike Zunino leads the CWS in homers with 19. Lastly, UF ranks first, both nationally and in the CWS, in their strikeout-to-walk ratio with an impressive 3.70.
IMPORTANT: Put simply, there is a reason this squad is considered the nation's best. On a more complicated note, however, Florida will be searching for some much desired revenge. The Gators getting even for last season's CWS Championship loss will prove to be one of the most powerful storylines in Omaha this time around. UF lusts to prove its capability in the clutch as it faces a team it went 3-1 against during the year.
South Carolina: Season Record: 45-17
CWS Appearances: 10, Two Titles (2010, 2011)
Over the past two years, the Gamecocks have emerged as one of the most deadly powerhouses in college baseball. Returning to Omaha for their third time in a row following a perfect postseason record, USC is prepared to continue their 20-game CWS win-streak and bring home another title in the program's quest for a three-peat.
Coincidentally, both of South Carolina's championship opposition from the past two seasons are the No. 1 and 2 seeds in this year's College World Series, making it more than likely that the Gamecocks would have to take both out en route to winning their third title. Fortunately for USC, however, it has more than enough talent and experience to pull off one of sport's most difficult tasks.
Led on offense by big-shot junior Christian Walker (.322), the Gamecocks have been able to consistently get clutch hits at necessary times during games. While the hitting has been better than decent over the course of the season, South Carolina has been able to rely on its pitching staff for pulling out wins. With senior Michael Roth (7-1) at the head, junior Colby Holmes (7-1) and freshman Jordan Montgomery (5-1) have dazzled. Also of note are junior relievers Matt Price (4-4) and Tyler Webb (5-2), combining for 13 saves.
Statistically, South Carolina leads all CWS teams in team fielding percentage (.980). The Gamecocks also place second in strikeout-to-walk ratio with 2.74 with freshman Jordan Montgomery ranking second individually with a 5.67 ratio.