OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28: A general view of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha before game 2 of the men's 2011 NCAA College Baseball World Series between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Florida Gators on June 28, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Of all the teams that headed from the SEC to the NCAA baseball tournament this year, Arkansas might have been the furthest from the front of everyone's mind. The Hogs had collapsed out of the SEC West lead weeks ago and made no real noise in the SEC tournament.
On the other hand, other teams looked strong. Florida had been the closest thing we had to a consensus preseason No. 1. South Carolina was the two-time reining national champion. LSU had won the West after a late rally. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt had powered through the end of the season and gone on great runs through Hoover. The up-and-down swings of the season had made Kentucky a compelling story, if nothing else.
Those were the SEC teams -- and Arkansas. And Ole Miss. Neither team got much attention early on, and Ole Miss was bounced from the tournament in the regional. Arkansas, meanwhile, had quietly won the Houston Regional -- at least as quietly as anyone can win a regional -- and gone to Waco to take on Baylor.
There's nothing quiet about Arkansas anymore. With a 10-inning, 1-0 win late Monday in Game 3 of the Waco Super Regional, the Hogs will round out a contingent of three from the SEC to the College World Series. It's the second consecutive year in which the league will fill three of the eight spots in Omaha. The Pac-12 has two teams headed to the final stretch of the season, and no other conference has more than one.
How far can Arkansas go once they get there? Who knows. No one really expected them to get this far, and few have paid much attention to how the Hogs got this far. But everyone will be watching them now.