The Virginia baseball team will hit the road for the College World Series bright and early Thursday morning, as the Cavaliers are playing in Omaha for the third time in program history.
UVa is back in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament after beating Maryland in Super Regionals this past weekend.
Virginia lost in the Regionals and the Super Regionals in each of the past two seasons, so this will be the first, and likely last trip to Omaha for much of the highly-touted junior class.
Six of the eight juniors on the roster were selected in last weeks Major League Baseball draft, including three in the first round.
Head coach Brian O'Connor says, "This third-year group came in as such a highly-touted group. Very, very talented and skilled. Missed a couple of trips to being in this position, and nobody deserves it more than this group. It's been a really unselfish group. Very, very talented. I'd love for that first national title to be with this group."
"We're going out to win," says junior infielder Branden Cogswell. "We have the team, we have the pitching. We have the offense and defense to go out there and do some damage. The goal was to make it out there in order to compete for a national championship. Now that we're there, we feel like we have the team that can compete, as has a shot to win the national championship."
Virginia baseball has never won a national championship, but they did win more than fifty-games in three of the past four seasons, and have won forty-nine so far this year.
The Wahoos have played in the postseason eleven years in a row, and all three of their trips to the CWS have come in the last six years.
"Winning college baseball games at the end of the year now has gotten a lot more difficult," says O'Connor. "The old guard, the traditional baseball powers, they used to run college baseball. It used to be the same, old teams in the World Series in Omaha, and that has really changed quite a bit over the last five years."
Cogswell says, "To finally be able to experience that with this group of guys, it means a lot to these guys, and it's a dream come true for most of them. We've worked hard to get here. You can call it a three-year process, but we're excited to get out there and play baseball."
Junior outfielder Derek Fisher adds, "It's going to be an experience that we've been waiting for. This is why everybody comes to Virginia: to play in games like we played in this past weekend, and to go to Omaha."
UVa will open up the College World Series Sunday at eight o'clock against Ole Miss.
UVa's Junior Class Ready for College World SeriesMore>>