1. The home run ball
Only three home runs were hit in both the 2013 and 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. That’s expected to change. The NCAA this year switched to a ball with flatter seams, allowing it to travel farther and break less on the way to the plate. The combination resulted in 38 percent more home runs during the regular season. A 38 percent jump in Omaha would mean only four home runs, which still would be low.
2. Lone Lone Star team
TCU is not only the only Big 12 team in Omaha, but it is also the only Texas team in Omaha. The Horned Frogs eliminated another Texas team, Texas A&M, in the Super Regionals to get to Omaha. Last year, Texas, Texas Tech and TCU represented the Lone Star State. The past two Texas champions are Texas in 2005 and Rice in 2003.
3. SEC, SEC, SEC
This is SEC territory, and with half the field populated by the conference, it doesn’t look like it’ll change. Last year, Vanderbilt was the seventh straight SEC team to play for the championship. An SEC squad has been in the CWS 30 of the past 31 years. The Pac-12 leads all-time with 17 CWS champions, but has no team here this year.
4. Florida vs Miami
They’ve played — Florida won a series at home in February — but never for these stakes. This is their first meeting in Omaha. Florida won the regular-season series at home in February. Between them, they have 33 College World Series appearances. Miami is back after a seven-year absence.
5. The return of Fullerton
After six years, its longest absence ever from the College World Series, Cal State Fullerton has returned to Omaha. But with its second-worst record ever — only 34-24. “Our program hasn’t been here for a while,” third-year coach Rick Vanderhook said. “I don’t have any experience being a head coach here. My players have no experience here.” Fullerton’s 17 appearances in Omaha are tied for sixth most.