Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 9:02 a.m.
Back in the day, the University of Arizona pennially had one of the nation's best baseball teams, and trips to the College World Series in Omaha were both expected and commonplace.
But times got tougher and tougher after the Wildcats' 1986 championship win, with only one appearance in the Big Dance since then.
This year, finally, a new chapter has been written, with head coach Andy Lopez leading his team back to Nebraska to a national tournament that is one of the most storied events in all of college sports.
Arizona takes on powerful Florida State tomorrow night at 6 in an opening-round game that will televised on ESPN2 (Channel 32 on our dial).
The Cats' resurgence and this season's 43-17 record snuck up on fans who follow college baseball to any degree. But a deep and steady pitching staff and all kinds of timely hitting in the big games lifted Arizona to the Promised Land.
Whether the Tucson boys will have enough to compete with the Seminoles, a juggernaut that blitzed Stanford in last week's Super-Regional obviously remains to be seen. But the Wildcats have been a hearty bunch all year, and won't go down easily.
The real story in Omaha over the next week may be the Stony Brook Seawolves, a little known public research university about 50 miles east of Manhattan on Long Island.
Stony Brook in only a little more than a decade into Division I sports, and was a nobody on the national scene until this improbable season. Last week, the mighty Seawolves journeyed to Baton Rouge to face national contender LSU in a best-of-three Super Regional series.
After losing the first game in extra innings, Stony Brook double-dipped the Tigers to shock the college baseball world and earn an improable trip to Omaha.
If Arizona can't pull off the title, we will be rooting for the Seawolves to win the whole thing.
On second thought, go Stony Brook!