College Baseball Greatness Comes to the Frisco Classic
Today’s the day – college baseball is back! It’s opening day for many division-1 teams around the country, and some are coming our way in the near future.
Those that have yet to discover the greatness of one of America’s greatest games at the collegiate level will get their chance in two weeks to see some of the most tradition-rich programs in the sport as part of the Frisco Classic Presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy and Research at the STAR. Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma State will all take part in the event, played at Dr Pepper Ballpark from March 3-5.
This is the closest thing you’ll find to Omaha and the College World Series between now and May, at least in this neck of the woods. Looking for something fun and affordable to take your family to? Look no further.
Top-notch baseball play for all fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex will be featured at one of the top regular-season tournaments in the country among NCAA Division 1 teams.
These are good teams too, as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association preseason poll has two of the teams ranked — Arizona is ranked No. 16 and Oklahoma State is No. 22. Arkansas and Nebraska are listed among teams receiving votes in the initial poll.
The Frisco Classic will be held March 3-5 at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the home of the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The tournament will have two games each day with each team playing the other three teams in a round-robin format throughout the weekend.
Tradition-built, these four programs have 59 conference regular-season or league tournament championships and have made 125 appearances in NCAA regionals or super regionals. They enter the regular season with nearly 10,000 combined victories (9,456) over a total of 428 seasons of intercollegiate competition. They have combined for five NCAA championships with another 10 runner-up finishes. The quartet has made a total of 48 appearances in the College World Series since it originated in 1947. In fact, Oklahoma State was in that initial field.
Three of these four teams played in an NCAA regional last June with Arizona reaching the best-of-three championship series at the College World Series. Oklahoma State beat Nebraska in the Clemson Regional and ended up joining the Wildcats at the CWS. Arkansas made its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and reached the CWS in 2015, but missed the tournament last season. Nebraska last competed in Omaha – just 62 miles from its campus in Lincoln – in 2005.
History? You want history? The four prestigious programs are among the Top-50 all-time in NCAA total victories entering 2017 with Arizona No. 7 at 2,756 during 113 seasons, Oklahoma State No. 14 with 2,556 victories in 105 seasons, Nebraska No. 45 with 2,131 wins in its 117 seasons, and No. 49 Arkansas with 2,103 wins in 93 years. The Razorbacks’ placement in the Top 50 carries even more regard since the school did not field a varsity baseball squad from 1931-1946.
All four teams have established solid traditions while playing in multiple conferences. Arizona was a member of the Border Conference and later moved to the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12), while prospering under the guidance of College Baseball Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Kindall. The Wildcats, led in 2017 by second-year head coach Jay Johnson, have been regulars in NCAA postseason competition since their first appearance in 1948.
Arkansas became a power in the old Southwest Conference under American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame head coach Norm DeBriyn from 1970-2002 and has remained competitive since 1992 as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Dave Van Horn is in his 15th season as the head coach at Arkansas and has led the Hogs to the College World Series four times. He previously coached at Nebraska and in five seasons, led the Huskers to the CWS twice.
Nebraska was a charter member of the Missouri Valley, Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 conferences from 1907-2011 and has been a prime contender in the Big Ten Conference since joining the league before the 2011-12 academic year. The Huskers dominated the Big 12 Conference postseason tournament for almost a decade from 1998-2006. Nebraska’s head coach is Darin Erstad, a two-time MLB All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who is entering his sixth season at his alma mater.
Oklahoma State has had as much season-by-season success as any Division I baseball program with the 20 NCAA tournament appearances, a national championship in 1959, and the longest conference title streak in NCAA Division I annals with 16 consecutive Big Eight crowns from 1981-96. The Cowboys became a fixture in Omaha under College Baseball Hall of Fame head coach Gary Ward and are bringing back much of that tradition with current head coach Josh Holliday who played for Ward from 1996-99, including CWS teams in 1996 and 1999. The Cowboys were members of the Missouri Valley Conference before joining the Big Eight in 1958 and started Big 12 baseball activity in February 1997.
The tradition of these four baseball programs certainly makes for an exciting weekend at the Frisco College Baseball Classic, giving fans a preview of four different potential conference champions and contenders for the 2017 NCAA regional appearances or even the College World Series.
Tickets are available at the Dr Pepper Ballpark ticket office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., online at www.friscoclassic.com/tickets.html, or by phone at 469-400-4125. A Day Pass, which includes two games, is just $10 for general admission or $25 for a reserved seat. Fans also can buy a Weekend Pass, which includes admission to all six games of the tournament. Those are $25 for general admission or $60 reserved. All parking is $5.
Frisco Classic Presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy and Research at the STAR
2017 Tournament Schedule
Friday, March 3
Arkansas vs. Arizona, 4 p.m.
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, 4 p.m.
Nebraska vs. Arkansas, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5
Arizona vs. Nebraska, Noon
Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.
All times Central; 45 minutes between games.