OMAHA, Neb. —
5. Not so brawny Bruins: UCLA comes to Omaha batting .251, ranking 253rd out of 296 Division I teams. No team in the last decade has made it to the CWS with a lower average. In fact, no other CWS team over that span has come in batting lower than .271. Pitching and defense are what it’s about for the Bruins, who are 15-2 in one-run games and 34-1 when allowing the opponent three runs or fewer.
6. Strong-armed Rodon: North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon’s nation-leading strikeout numbers are impressive, but so is his ability to keep on dealing when other pitchers would have called it a day. The burly left-hander has started 17 games, tied for most in the nation, and has thrown 104 or more pitches in 12 of them. He’s gone over 125 in six games, including his season high-matching 133 against Rice last Saturday.
7. Don’t forget about this guy: North Carolina’s Cody Stubbs can’t escape the shadows of two teammates — No. 6 overall draft pick Colin Moran (Marlins) and third-round pick Kent Emanuel (Astros). Fact is, Stubbs would be the biggest star on most other teams.
The senior first baseman, taken by the Royals in the third round, is batting a team-leading .366 and is third nationally with 76 RBIs and fourth with 26 doubles.
8. Hit me one more time: Louisville sure does have a knack for getting smacked by baseballs. The Cardinals have been hit by pitches a nation-leading 128 times. Few players have been beaned as often as Coco Johnson. The Cards’ cleanup hitter has been hit 23 times, including twice in Sunday’s super regional-clinching win over Vanderbilt. It didn’t seem to bother him. He reached base four times.
9. Slick-fielding Tigers: LSU’s .980 fielding percentage is best among CWS teams and fifth-best in the country, but the Tigers are just .964 in five NCAA tournament games.