The first pitch of the College World Series will take place on Friday at 1 p.m. CT.
The first two College World Series games that will be played will be from Bracket 1 between Oral Roberts and TCU at 1 p.m. CT while Florida and Virginia will face off at 6 p.m. CT. The games from Bracket 2 will be played at the same times on Saturday as Stanford and Wake Forest will square off with each other followed by the night game between LSU and Tennessee.
In part one of this College World Series preview, we will take a look at Florida, Oral Roberts, TCU and Virginia out of Bracket 1.
Florida makes its 12th appearance in Omaha after the Gators swept South Carolina in the Gainesville Super Regional. The Gators have advanced to the College World Series final three times, with the most recent being in 2017 when they defeated LSU to win its first national championship.
The Gators are led by 12th-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who is responsible for seven of Florida’s College World Series appearances as well as its lone national championship in 2017. O’Sullivan is also Florida’s all-time winningest head coach as he has a record of 677-317.
UTIL Jac Caglianone has been Florida’s rock all year long as he is not only Florida’s best hitter, but he is also a starter on the mound.
Caglianone is the nation’s leading home run leader with 31 dingers with a .336 batting average, 86 hits (team-high), 13 doubles and two triples. He also has 84 RBIs, which is a team-high. On the mound, Caglianone (7-3) has a 3.78 ERA with 81 strikeouts, 49 walks and 46 hits allowed in 69.0 innings pitched. He is one of three players to be nominated as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
Two other field players you need to watch out for are First Team All-SEC performers, shortstop Josh Rivera and outfielder Wyatt Langford. Rivera is batting .362 from the plate with nine doubles, a triple, 17 home runs and 68 RBIs. Langford has a team-high .373 batting average with 24 doubles, three triples and 18 homers.
The Gators also have three talented pitchers in starters Hudson Waldrep and Brandon Sproat as well as a closer.
Waldrep (9-3) has a 4.15 ERA with 142 strikeouts and 48 walks. Sproat (8-3) has a 4.69 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 40 walks. Neely leads the SEC in saves with 13 and has 64 strikeouts.
The Cinderella team of this postseason has been Oral Roberts and they will be making its second appearance in the College World Series, with its first coming in 1978. Although it is a small university in Tulsa, Okla. with an enrollment of just over 3,000, it has been one of the better mid-major programs in the country.
Including this season, Oral Roberts has advanced to the College World Series twice and has made 23 NCAA Tournament appearances overall. In addition, the Golden Eagles made 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1998 to 2012 and played in the regional finals in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011, winning the 2006 Regional Championship.
The Golden Eagles went undefeated as the fourth seed in the Stillwater Regional as they defeated host Oklahoma State, Washington and Dallas Baptist. Oral Roberts then traveled to Eugene, Ore. to take on Oregon, where the Golden Eagles defeated the DUcks in two out of three games to advance to the College World Series.
Oral Roberts is led by 11th-year head coach Ryan Folmar. Since his first year in 2013, the Golden Eagles have won the Summit Conference tournament seven times and have had three 40-win seasons under Folmar.
Outfielders Jonah Cox and Matt Hogan are two of the best hitters that Oral Roberts has.
Cox is the 2023 Summit League Player of the Year and has a .420 batting average with 16 doubles, a team-high eight triples, 11 home runs and 67 RBIs. Cox also has an astonishing 28 steals on 31 attempts.
Hogan, who was named a member of the All-Summit League first team, has a .332 batting average with 12 doubles, three triples and 18 homers.
Oral Roberts has three legitimate starting pitchers in All-Summit League performers Jakob Hall, Harley Gollert and Brooks Fowler. The Golden Eagles also have deadly closer Cade Denton, who leads the nation in saves with 15.
TCU will be making its sixth appearance in the College World Series and its first since 2017. The Horned Frogs have made its case as the hottest team in America as they have not lost since May 18 and went undefeated in the Big 12 Tournament to win its fourth Big 12 conference title.
TCU defeated Arizona and No.3 overall seed Arkansas twice to win the Fayetteville Regional before sweeping No.14 overall seed Indiana State in the Fort Worth Super Regional to advance to the College World Series.
TCU is led by second-year head coach Kirk Saarloos. Before he was the head coach, Saarloos was the pitching coach under then-head coach Jim Schlossnagle, where the Horned Frogs appeared in the College World Series five times.
Although they are not the strongest hitting team in the world, TCU is one of the best teams in the country when it comes to stolen bases. The Horned Frogs have recorded 139 stolen bases, which is best for sixth nationally. TCU has six players that have at least 15 stolen bases. Second baseman Tre Richardson leads the Horned Frogs in stolen bases with 24 stolen bases in 27 attempts.
TCU’s prize cow is First Team All-Big 12 third baseman, Brayden Taylor. Taylor has a .314 batting average with 14 doubles, 23 homers and 69 RBIs.
Freshmen studs catcher Karson Bowen and shortstop Anthony Silva have been absolute studs for the Horned Frogs. Bowen has a team-high .355 batting average with 14 doubles, six homers and 46 RBIs. Silva, who was named a member of the All-Big 12 second team, has 10 doubles and seven home runs.
First baseman Cole Fontenelle has been a stud as well. Fontenelle has a team-high 21 doubles, two triples and 13 home runs.
TCU’s pitching staff is led by true freshman Kole Klecker. Klecker (10-4) has a 3.84 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 28 walks. Klecker was named as a member of the 2023 Big 12 All-Freshman team.
TCU’s best reliever is closer Garret Wright. Wright, who was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, has 31 strikeouts in 25.0 innings pitched. Wright leads TCU in saves with five.
Virginia will be making its sixth appearance in Omaha as well.
The Cavaliers hosted both the regional and super regional in Charlottesville, Va. Virginia defeated Army and East Carolina twice to win the Charlottesville Regional before winning the Charlottesville Super Regional by defeating conference foe Duke in two out of three games.
Virginia has been a regular in the College World Series since its first appearance in 2009. Virginia has advanced to the College World Series final twice in 2014 and 2015. The Cavaliers lost to Vanderbilt in three games before getting their revenge against the Commodores the following year to win their first national title.
Brian O’Connor, who is in his 20th season as Virginia’s head coach, has been a large reason why the Cavaliers have been so dominant in college baseball in the last 15 years. O’Connor is a five-time ACC Coach of the Year, has won two ACC championships and is responsible for all of Virginia’s trips to Omaha. O’Connor is the winningest coach in UVA history and has a record of 833-349-2.
Catcher Kyle Teel is Virgnia’s most heralded player. Teel, who was named the ACC Player of the Year on May 22, is batting .418 on the year with 25 doubles, 13 homers and 69 RBIs.
While Teel might get all the accolades, third baseman Jake Gelof is one of the most dangerous sluggers in this year’s College World Series. Gelof, who is Virginia’s all-time home run leader, has batted .331 from the plate with 23 doubles, three triples, 23 home runs and 89 RBIs.
Virginia also has a great pitching staff as the Cavaliers have a solid starting rotation as well as a great bullpen.
In its starting rotation, Virginia Connelly Early, Brian Edgington and Nick Parker.
Early (12-2) has a 3.06 ERA with 98 strikeouts and 20 walks in 82.1 innings pitched. Edgington (9-3) has a 3.47 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 21 walks in 85.1 innings pitched. Both Early and Edgington were recognized as members of the All-ACC Second Team.
Parker (8-0) is undefeated on the season, which is an impressive feat. Parker has 79 strikeouts and 21 walks in 75.2 innings pitched.
Jay Woolfolk and Jake Berry are the two best arms out of Virginia’s bullpen. Woolfolk (2-1) leads the Cavaliers in appearances with 28 and has a team-high nine saves on the season. Berry (0-4) has six saves on the season with 58 strikeouts and 19 walks in 48.2 innings pitched.