The Arizona Wildcats are not the team South Carolina wanted to face in the 2012 College World Series.
Arizona has been playing as well, if not better, than anyone in the country since the beginning of the series and it's no surprise the Wildcats have made a deep run. Backed by a strong offense and effective pitching, Arizona has outscored its opponents 18-6 in three series games.
Here, let's take a glance at why the Wildcats continue their Cinderella run versus the Gamecocks.
In their three College World Series games, the Arizona Wildcats have scored 18 runs and no less than four in one contest.
This should have been a foregone conclusion as well, because the Wildcats also ranked No. 6 in scoring with an average of 7.4 runs per game this season. Even more impressively, Arizona also did this twice against Florida State and the Seminoles ranked No. 8 in ERA, allowing fewer than three runs per game.
In the two games against FSU, the Wildcats racked up 14 runs en route to a finals appearance. Ranking No. 4 in batting average (.330), you can expect Arizona's bats to keep making contact against the defending champion Gamecocks.
For as much recognition that goes to the offense, Arizona's pitching and defense has really come around during the College World Series.
Although the Wildcats ranked No. 76 with a 3.79 ERA, they've allowed just six runs total during the series. That's obviously significantly less than the average and Arizona's confidence when in the field couldn't be higher.
One interesting aspect of the Wildcats is their 2.66 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It ranked No. 19 in the nation and can be credited for such an impressive run. For one, Arizona isn't simply giving up runs and the fielders are greatly assisted by strikeouts.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, the Gamecocks offense isn't nearly as explosive and seven of their 13 College World Series runs came in one game (four games total).
As long as the Wildcats restrict South Carolina to less than four runs, Arizona will dominate from the first pitch.
Who has more pressure to win?
There's certainly pressure on both schools to bring home the College World Series title, but the Arizona Wildcats are feeling significantly less of it.
The past two seasons, South Carolina has taken the title and was expected to get this far.
As for the Wildcats, Arizona hasn't competed in the series since 2004 and its last championship was in 1986. The fact that Arizona has gotten this far has greatly exceeded expectations.
Here, the Gamecocks have the shot at a three-peat to lose while Arizona is looking for its first title in over two decades. In short, South Carolina has much more to lose at this point. So, expect the Wildcats to play relentless at the plate and aggressive on the mound.