UT leads the nation in team ERA at 2.78. UH isn't far behind in the rankings with a staff mark of 3.02. Both teams will toss at least one all-America-caliber, dominating starting pitcher -- the Horns with Justin Simmons (14-1, 2.42 ERA) and the Cougs with Brad Sullivan (12-1, 1.93 ERA) -- and will count on a shutdown closer -- Texas with Huston Street (4-1, 10 saves, 0.92 ERA) and Houston with Jesse Crain (4-0, nine saves, 0.00 ERA) -- over the course of the weekend.
As a team, the Horns hit at a .304 clip. The Cougars bat .313. Texas has speed at the top of its order in 2B Tim Moss (39 SBs in 48 attempts). Houston leadoff man and CF Michael Bourn can scoot around the bases as well (32 steals in 43 attempts). Both UT and UH have power through the middle of the order -- Texas with OF Dustin Majewski (nine HRs), 1B Jeff Ontiveros (16) and DH J.D. Reininger (12) and Houston with C Chris Snyder (15), 1B Brett Cooley (18) and SS Crain (11).
Defensively, the Horns own a .974 fielding percentage (67 errors on the season), slightly better than the Cougars .962 (90 errors).
"It's a situation with two teams that I really believe are worthy of playing in the College World Series," Noble said. "It's a shame only one of us will be able to advance."
The winner of Friday night's 7:00 p.m. contest will definitely have the inside track to earning the right to advance to Omaha. The Cougars will pitch ace Sullivan, while the Horns are expected to counter with Brad Halsey (7-2, 2.79 ERA). Simmons is expected to take the hill Saturday night at 7:00 in game two of the Super Regional. Junior lefty Halsey opened UT's NCAA tourney run last Friday with an 8-1/3 inning, three-hit, no-earned-run performance.
Despite the tough Super Regional draw, Augie Garrido said his team welcomes the challenge.
"To win the national championship, you have to go against the best in the country and if we're doing it here at Disch-Falk, which we are, that's part of the challenge," the Texas head coach said. "The players are excited about that and that's part of baseball."
UT senior Kalani Napoleon added his thoughts on the team's mindset heading into the series.
"Throughout the year we wanted to go one game at a time, to take that approach," the centerfielder said. "Last weekend is in the past. This weekend is in the future but we look forward to Friday night."
Where a win will move this Texas team closer to a future than includes a trip to Rosenblat Stadium.