2011 College World Series: Most Unlikely Winners in CWS History
The term "Cinderella" is most often associated with the NCAA basketball tournament, or March Madness as it is commonly called.
The famous Cinderella teams in NCAA basketball history roll right off the tongue.
The list of College World Series winners reads like a list of national powers in college baseball. Many teams have won multiple titles. USC has 12, LSU and Texas have six and Arizona State has five. That makes up a pretty sizable percentage of the the total number of champions.
Even still, there are several different examples of "Cinderellas" in college baseball.
For our purposes today, we'll just be looking at the surprise national champions in college baseball. Let's take a look at the biggest "Cinderella" winners in NCAA baseball tournament history.
At first glance, Georgia winning a national championship doesn't seem like much of an upset. They play in the SEC, the best baseball conference in the nation and as far as college baseball programs go, the Bulldogs are much more a "have" rather than a "have not."
That wasn't really the case back in 1990, though. The SEC has always been a great baseball conference, but at that time, LSU was the only perennial national title contender in the league.
In 1990, the Bulldogs were only making their second appearance in Omaha. Their first time was in 1987 and it ended dubiously as they went 0-2.
Needless to say, this one ended much better for Georgia. They went 4-1 in Omaha and defeated national power Oklahoma State in the final by a 2-1 score.
Cal State Fullerton: 1979
Cal State Fullerton is another team that would no longer qualify as a Cinderella. They are now deeply entrenched as a national power. They have made trips to Omaha spanning several decades and several coaches. They boast four national championships in total.
In 1979, though, they were Omaha novices. That appearance was only their second as a program. Their first, in 1976, ended with them going 0-2.
Even their 1979 run got off to a rough start. They lost their opening game 6-1 to Mississippi State before rattling off five straight wins, including a 2-1 victory over Arkansas in the championship game.
Not only did the Titans' program have a lot more success from here on out, but so did their head coach. Augie Garrido has gone on to win multiple championships not only with Fullerton, but with the University of Texas Longhorns.
Current Arizona Wildcats head coach Andy Lopez gave his best coaching effort with Pepperdine in 1992. The Waves were then and are now a solid program, but their winning of a national title was a surprise to most.
In that 1992 season, Pepperdine was making its second College World Series appearance. The first had been way back in 1979. During the regular season, they had blown through the West Coast Conference with a record of 23-4. Overall, they came in with a 44-11-1 record.
The Waves were a perfect 4-0 in the '92 CWS, including shutouts of perennial powers Wichita State and Texas. They downed Cal State Fullerton 3-2 in the championship game.
Oregon State: 2006
The Oregon State Beavers College World Series appearance in 2005 and their run to the national championship in 2006 is an example of a program coming out of nowhere.
Head coach Pat Casey believed that he could turn a program tucked away in the Pacific northwest into a national baseball power. Their miraculous run to Omaha in '05 and this national title in '06 proved that it could be done.
The Beavers lost their opening game 11-1 to Miami before reeling off four straight wins to the get to the championship series. They then beat the North Carolina Tar Heels two games to one in the championship series. Oregon State pitcher Jonah Nickerson was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player.
Fresno State: 2008
The Fresno State Bulldogs national championship in 2008 is the epitome of a Cinderella run through the tournament.
They began the tournament as a four seed in their regional. For those unfamiliar with the format, there are 16 four team regionals in the tournament. That means that the Bulldogs were considered one of the 16 weakest teams in the entire field.
Fresno began their run by beating Cal, San Diego and host school Long Beach State in the Long Beach regional. Then, they traveled to Tempe and won two out of three games against Arizona State, the third ranked team in the nation.
Once in Omaha, the Bulldogs continued to win. They went 3-1 to get to the championship series and then beat the Georgia Bulldogs two out of three games to win the unlikeliest of national championships.