ABC News On Campus reporter Toby Phillips blogs:
Fresh off an 8-2 win over Clemson, the Arizona State baseball team has its sights set on Omaha, Neb. The Devils are the number five overall seed coming into the College Baseball World Series. This will be their third visit to the series in the past five years.
Mike Leake, the Sun Devils’ ace pitcher and a relative veteran on the team, said that he’s not too worried about the trip, or game one.
“It’s just another game,” he said. For now, he will worry about practicing and giving a top-notch performance come that first game on Sunday against number four seed North Carolina.
“We owe it to ourselves to give it our all,” he said.
Jason Kipnis, Sun Devil centerfielder, says he’s not worked up either.
“We’re not looking too far ahead at all actually,” he said. “We’re just looking to practice right now; we’re definitely…looking at UNC and all the other teams.”
The Sun Devil baseball team is a fairly young one. Last year, a school record of 15 ASU players were picked up in the draft, leaving coaches to find some fresh, young talent.
Not surprisingly, those young players have a lot of questions about the World Series and what they can expect.
Leake is one of two players that have been there before and neither one is saying a word.
“I’ll let them experience it for themselves,” Leake said. After the team has the chance to take in all the hoopla and excitement, he said he will tell his teammates to “lock it in.”
“Once our first game comes, [we’ll] get all focused in on the game,” he said.
One less thing these players have to worry about: impressing those Major League scouts. Leake was the number 8 overall pick in yesterday’s draft – picked up by the Cincinnati Reds. Jason Kipnis, center fielder, went to the Cleveland Indians in the second round, while Josh Spence was selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Head Coach Pat Murphy joked with reporters about Mike Leake having worries about being able to pay for lunch this week.
Now, he and his teammates are facing 7-digit signing bonuses.
Murphy said leading up to the series, the Devils’ need to focus on themselves not the competition.
“Something’s going right,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”
He stressed that talent and experience aren’t the driving factors behind ASU’s success this year. Rather, it’s been the team’s unwillingness to lose.
“We have the least experience of any division one baseball in any major conference,” he said. “Nobody returned less players. No one.”
The College World series is a double elimination tournament, so the Devils are guaranteed at least two games in Omaha.
The team leaves today, giving the players some time to soak up all the fanfare.