(Part 4 of a College World Series preview series)
Making it through the Regional as a No. 3 seed, Texas A&M goes into the College World Series as a longshot.
Texas A&M was mired in a 2-8 tailspin prior to the NCAA Tournament. Sent to the Houston Regional after finishing just two games over .500 in SEC play, the Aggies (41-21, 16-14) knocked off Baylor 8-5, Iowa 3-2 and Houston 4-3. Returning to College Station for the Super Regional, the Aggies swept upstart Davidson 7-6 in 15 innings and 12-6.
Ending a five-year absence from the College World Series, Texas A&M is paired against Louisville (52-10) on Sunday at 1 pm. in the first round. Omaha has not been kind to the Aggies, who are just 2-10 all-time in five CWS appearances.
Coach Rob Childress goes into Sunday's game with 499 career victories in 12 seasons with the Aggies.
Texas A&M has a .275 team batting average with 52 home runs.
Second baseman Braden Shewmake, the Collegiate Baseball Freshman of the Year, has been a difference-maker for the Aggies. A first-team All-SEC honoree, Shewmake's .335 batting average, .538 slugging percentage, 89 hits, 11 home runs, 17 doubles and 68 RBI are all team-highs. No other Aggie has driven in more than 33 runs.
Senior center fielder Nick Choruby has been the Aggies' hottest hitter of late, going 11-for-22 with a a triple, four doubles and seven RBI in five NCAA Tournament games. Batting leadoff, he paces the team with 49 walks and 55 runs, while batting .325 with a .448 on base percentage, three home runs, 33 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
Freshmen occupied three of the top four spots in the batting order in Game 2 against Davidson. Designated hitter Logan Foster has supplied a .283 batting average, six home runs, four triples and 13 doubles. Cleanup batter and first baseman Hunter Coleman is batting .292 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 46 games.
Other regulars for the Aggies include sophomore catcher Cole Bedford (.302 batting average, 3 HR, 26 RBI), senior right fielder Blake Kopetsky (.298-2-19), senior left fielder Walker Pennington (.217-4-33), sophomore third baseman George Janca (.259-6-29) and senior shortstop Austin Homan (.218-0-28).
Two-thirds of A&M's rotation were selected in Tuesday's Major League draft. Corbin Martin was tabbed in the second round with the 56th overall pick by the Houston Astros, while fellow junior right-hander Brigham Hill was the Washington Nationals' fifth-round selection.
Hill (8-3, 3.18) has notched wins over three top 20 teams, including LSU. Working a staff-high 96.1 innings, he has 107 punchouts while walking 29 and allowing 85 hits.
Martin (7-3, 3.85, 12 starts) has moved into the rotation after making 11 relief appearances. He is the Aggies' highest draft pick since 2015 when Tyler Naquin went 15th overall to the Cleveland Indians and Michael Waka 19th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sophomore right-hander Stephen Kolek (4-4, 3.59) is the No. 3 starter for the Aggies, who have compiled a 3.42 team ERA.
Junior lefty Kaylor Chafin (7-2, 2.56) has appeared in 30 games out of the bullpen, racking up 70 innings.
Among the other key relievers are junior right-handers Turner Larkins (1-2, 3.80) and Cason Sherrod (4-1. 2.89, 4 saves) and sophomore right-hander Mitchell Kilkenny (3-3, 3.56, 7 saves).