Oregon will also host Indiana State (41-17)and, in an ironic twist, Cal State Fullerton (35-19), head coach George Horton’s former team. Horton coached Fullerton for 11 years, leading them to six College World Series appearances and a national championship in 2004. Titans assistant coach Mike Kirby was an assistant under Horton for three years at Oregon before leaving for Fullerton this season.
“I think it’ll be fun,” Horton said. “It adds a little intrigue and side bar to it and they’re a very difficult program to be successful against.”
Considering the Ducks ended their season getting swept by rival Oregon State and choking away a conference championship, the news couldn’t have gotten much better. Well, seeing the Beavers land in a Regional in Baton Rouge with No. 7 national seed LSU didn’t hurt either.
UCLA, who ended up sharing the conference championship with Arizona, was announced as the No. 2 national seed behind Florida. The Wildcats did not receive a national seed, but will host a Regional. Rounding out the list of Pac-12 teams is Stanford, who will also host a Regional.
Horton said he doesn’t know anything about Austin Peay having never played them, but said that there could be changes to the normal lineup based on “educated guesses” for the best possible matchup.
“The bottom line at this point in the year is it doesn’t do you any good to come in second,” Horton said. “You got to win it.”
Playing at PK Park will add another dimension to the series. With school still in session, Horton said that not traveling like they did two years ago makes things a little less hectic and allows them to focus more on the task at hand. Not to mention the Ducks posted a 25-6 record at home this season.
Should Oregon advance past the Regional round, they will host a Super Regional, which means that they could hypothetically advance to Omaha and the College World Series without ever having to leave PK Park.
After four years, it’s safe to say the Ducks have exceeded expectations that were laid down when the program was revived in 2008. For those that have experienced the high’s and low’s over that span, Monday’s news was a little bit sweeter.
“It’s been a long four years,” senior pitcher Alex Keudell said. “To get a national seed and play in front of our home fans — and if we are lucky enough to play in front of our home fans the weekend after that — it’s a big honor.”