We all knew in preseason there was a really good chance we’d be better this year than last, and even with the occasional stumbles, we’ve pretty much remained on that path. The TV guys mentioned yesterday how Florida and some other national contenders got sidetracked at times along the way, but we haven’t.
Our '79 CWSRU was my freshman year; I went on a road trip with those guys to meet the mighty Rice Owls. Rice is a good baseball school now; in 1979 that was not the case. They had no lights, no permanent stands at their field, no press box and no fans, and we beat them like a drum once on Friday and twice on Sunday (rained out Saturday). Then we piled into two 15-passenger vans for the 12 hour drive back to Fayetteville where I had an 8:30 class the next morning. You haven’t lived until you spent 12 hours in a van with a bunch of pitchers, getting thrashed in an endless game of hearts until somebody took pity and let me win a hand. No I didn’t make that 8:30 class, but I made my 10:30 class.
That team showed me what a good college baseball team looked like, although if you’d told me on that Sunday night in March that that bunch would play in the very last game of the 1979 college baseball season I would have thought you were nuts.
Somewhere, maybe it was the weekend where we beat Kentucky like a rented racehorse, I started to realize that this team might be pretty good. And as the season went on, things started to go our way. Florida, which looked like worldbeaters, became mortal. Ole Miss lost a series to Moo U, which then went on to sweep us but I digress. We survived mono and broken fingers and assorted bumps and bruises and kept going, and our clanky gloves became not quite so clanky.
Then came the postseason and more breaks went our way. First off, we got home field, for the best home team in CBB this year. Ole Miss did what Ole Miss does. Stanford went away too. So did Georgia. Texas took care of those very scary hitters at Tennessee Tech. We beat ORU, Southern Miss and Dallas Baptist, committed poultricide on SoCar in game three, then dominated EOE and TexTech.
But the feeling I’ve had for the last few weeks is that this team might be the one to do what those guys in '79 couldn’t do – win the last game of the year. Now we’re down to the last five games max, and that feeling is getting very strong. Win three, we get the trophy. It doesn’t happen until it happens, but I think it does happen. We get done what Kevin McReynolds, Johnny Ray, Marc Brumble, Larry Wallace, Steve Krueger, Scott Tabor and Rich Irwin couldn’t do 39 years ago.