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April 12, 2006

SCS.comIn college baseball you always hear about powerhouses like LSU, Texas, Cal State-Fullerton, and Rice, just to name a few. All of these schools have won a national championship and are habitually in the postseason.

But what about the teams who sometimes sneak in postseason that are not in big-time conferences and lack impressive resumes? Often these teams can make some noise in the Regionals and Super Regionals. I think there are five teams out there that could be this year's George Mason of college baseball!

Old Dominion Monarchs

The Monarchs are 31-5 on the year and ranked #15 nationally. Old Dominion's schedule has not been overpowering, but they are 2-1 versus the ACC. This team has enough quality arms and hitters to go on the road and win a Regional, and with the right matchup, they could advance to Omaha. I am not predicting them to play in the College World Series, but they will be a tough out. The Monarchs are 14-1 in CAA play and are well on their way to the regular season title. Head coach Jerry Myers is in his second year at ODU, and the former Ray Tanner (South Carolina head coach) assistant has the postseason experience that will be very valuable come Regional time.

Missouri State Bears

The Bears reached the College World Series back in 2003. Since then they have not duplicated that success. MO State is 19-10 overall this year and 5-1 in the Missouri Valley. They have a pair of midweek wins over Arkansas, and that will help them come selection time. The Valley race heats up this weekend as Missouri State travels to Wichita to face the Shockers. If they can win that series, the Bears will solidify themselves as a team that can make the postseason.

Florida International Panthers

The Panthers are 25-11 and 6-3 in the Sun Belt thus far. This past weekend they dropped two of three to South Alabama after a 5-1 conference start. This team has not beaten the marquee teams on their schedule, but road trips to Tuscaloosa and Los Angeles has provided good experience to this very talented team. Florida International could be the nation's darkhorse. The squad is located in greater Miami, and the talent is abundant right outside the Panthers' back door. Teams had better look out for this team come June.

Winthrop Eagles

The Eagles are 26-9 overall, 6-3 in the Big South, and nationally ranked. Winthrop will likely win the Big South and possibly get a #3 Regional seed. This team is legit; they have beaten Miami and Alabama twice each. This team will not be a pushover, and one should hope that they get sent to another Regional other than your that one hosting your favorite team. Jacob Dempsey (11 HR, 46 RBI) is a difference-maker at the plate; he can hit with power as good as anyone in the nation.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Yeah, an SEC team makes this list. The Commodores have been a lower-tier SEC team for much of their history. But Tim Corbin who was hired in June of 2002 and has changed the mindset at Vandy. He got a state-of-the-art stadium built, and the interest is at an all-time high. This team who is 8-4 in the SEC can win it all this year. They have that kind of talent. They have arguably the best pitcher the nation in David Price and the best freshman in the nation in Pedro Alvarez. This team will be a sleeper because the mainstream will not know they are even there until they punch their ticket to Omaha.

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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