By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — The College World Series almost seems like a foretaste of the future SEC.
The SEC West has four teams among the eight in Omaha. Oklahoma (42-22) and Texas (47-20) will join the SEC for the 2026 baseball season. That leaves Stanford (47-16) and Notre Dame (40-15) as teams in the College World Series. no ties to the SEC.
Tennessee, the SEC regular season and tournament champion, would have done it if it had beaten Notre Dame in the Knoxville Super Regional. Notre Dame beat the Vols 7-3 to advance to the College World Series. Dave Van Horn could relate to Tennessee losing in the final game of the super regional after being No. 1 virtually all season. His Hogs met the same fate against North Carolina State in 2021.
“I mean, it’s hard to get there,” Van Horn said. “I feel bad for them; I would have felt bad for Notre Dame if they had lost. It’s hard to come this far in the season and fall a game short. It’s hard, and I’m sure they’ll be good again next year.”
Arkansas (43-19) is 5-5 against other teams in Omaha. They lost 5-0 to Stanford on February 27 at the Round Rock Classic. They lost twice in three games to Texas A&M (42-18) in College Station. Arkansas won a road series at Auburn (42-20) winning two of three games. They took two of three against Ole Miss (37-22) at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Texas A&M won the SEC West with a 19-11 record that was a game better than Arkansas at 18-12. Auburn went 16-14 and Ole Miss 14-16 in SEC play.
Arkansas will face Stanford at 1 pm on Saturday in the first round. The game will be televised on ESPN. On Saturday night at 6 pm on ESPN2, Auburn and Ole Miss will square off.
The winners of Arkansas-Stanford and Ole Miss-Auburn will play at 6 pm Monday night on ESPN. The losers from Arkansas-Stanford and Ole Miss-Auburn will meet Monday at 1 pm in an elimination game also televised on ESPN.
Arkansas, Stanford, Ole Miss and Auburn are in Group 2. Group 1 teams are Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
The winners of the two groups will play a best of two out of three series to determine the national champion. Game 1 will be played on Saturday, June 25 at 6 pm Game 2 will be on Sunday at 2 pm on June 26. If a third game is needed, it will be Monday, June 27 at 6 pm All three championship games will be televised on ESPN.
Brady Slavens, who hit the leadoff single to beat North Carolina on Sunday, is a Razorback who has memories of the College World Series.
“Got it, yes,” Slavens said. “Being from Kansas City, it’s a short trip, and I have a picture on my phone of me and my dad. I plan to take that again from the outfield as a cool ride.”
Slavens said that was the only time he was in the College World Series.
“I think it was like 2013 or thereabouts,” Slavens said. “He was just a little boy.”
Obviously Slavens is more excited about his second trip to Omaha since he will be a player this time.
“This one will be better, yes,” said Slavens.
The action begins Friday with Texas A&M and OU at 1 p.m. and then Texas and Notre Dame at 6 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN.