Enjoy the regional!

College baseball fans, it's that time of year again. The Road to Omaha begins today with regional play at sixteen locations across the country. The Miami Hurricanes host Florida Atlantic, Florida and Bethune-Cookman in this weekend's regional. It should be a great weekend for baseball so head on down to Mark Light Stadium and enjoy the experience.

While most baseball fans prefer the major leagues, there is just something special about college baseball. And no, it's not the aluminum bats. The best way to describe college baseball in one word is passion. The players are passionate about the game they get to play. Coaches are passionate for the school that they coach. The fans are passionate about watching their favorite team experience the ‘ups' and ‘downs' of a baseball season hoping for many more ‘ups' at the end of the year.

I urge baseball fans to go to the games and enjoy a great weekend of baseball. Cheer on your favorite team and if your team isn't playing, even cheer on a player off another team. Go to the concession stand and get a hot dog. Bring a friend along and enjoy a good conversation but remember to give them a high-five when your team makes a great play. Explain to your kids how to read the scoreboard. Talk to a nearby fan and ask them what they think of the game. Ask yourself why a player swung at a bad pitch. Read the billboards on the outfield walls. Listen to the announcer say who is up to bat. Put your hand over your heart during the national anthem. Remember your baseball playing days. Enjoy the weather. Watch a home run sail over the fence. Be ready to catch a foul ball. Smile and enjoy the great game of baseball.

The Coral Gables regional figures to be an interesting one. The young Miami Hurricane squad is the top seed while the Owls from Florida Atlantic posseses a veteran team. Pat McMahon had to scramble to get his Gators back in Gainesville after believing their season was over after failing to reach the SEC tournament. And don't think Bethune-Cookman is just happy to be in the NCAA tournament, they will play hard and be a tough opponent.

There are some good ballplayers to keep an eye on this weekend. The "Killer-B's" for Miami, Ryan Braun, Jim Burt and Brian Barton, are the teams' top three home run hitters and will be the key for Miami's offensive success. Another key factor for Miami is their leadoff hitter Danny Figueroa who is always a threat to get on base with a base hit, drawing a walk or getting hit by a pitch. Florida Atlantic has a deep rotation with Randy Beam, Danny Core, Travis NeSmith and Chris Pillsbury. The Florida Gators have one of the best catchers in the country in Brian Rose. Rose teams up with C.J. Smith and Ben Harrison to form a formidable trio. Bethune-Cookman is led by John Gragg. Gragg is their best hitter and one of their top pitchers as well. Sebastien Boucher is a speedster on the base paths and could cause teams fits.

A few questions of concerns for each team head into the regionals. Will Miami's youth and inexperience haunt them? Can Florida Atlantic's pitchers continue their success in the postseason? Is it possible for Florida to shake off its rust from the long break? Will Bethune-Cookman be able to utilize their speed on the base paths?

There are some good players to see this weekend and some interesting stories to follow. Since all four schools hail from the state of Florida, a good turnout at Mark Light Stadium is expected. So take some time out of your weekend and head down to the stadium. But be prepared to experience the passion in college baseball.

Canes Time Top Stories