Baseball fans have a lot to cheer about

Published 1:37 am Sunday, June 7, 2009

Over the past few weeks I’ve found out there are a good many college baseball fans in the Miss-Lou.

Football will always be king around these parts, but baseball seems to be a surprising second, ahead of basketball, most of the rest of the country’s second-favorite sport.

But there’s a good reason for there to be a lot of college baseball fans in Mississippi and Louisiana.

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More than likely, the team that you root for is going to be very good.

Just this weekend, three of the four major schools The Democrat covers are playing in a super regional — LSU, Ole Miss and Southern Miss.

LSU punched its ticket to Omaha Saturday night and Ole Miss and Southern Miss need only to win one more game in their super regionals to join them.

The lone exception is Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are going through a rebuilding process with new coach John Cohen.

But MSU has a great baseball tradition with eight College World Series appearances and many loyal fans who are just itching for the program to return to the glory days.

But this past week, it’s been the LSU, Ole Miss and Southern Miss fans’ turn to puff their chests out.

The Tigers are headed to Omaha for the 15th time overall and second year in a row.

LSU is still looking for its first national championship since legendary coach Skip Bertman retired, and this looks like it could be the team to get it done.

I’m sure many Tiger fans in the area will be trying to purchase College World Series tickets now that their team has locked in a spot.

Ole Miss fans, meanwhile, still have to sit on pins and needles for a little longer.

The Rebels have been a staple in super regionals the past five years, but have not advanced to Omaha since 1972.

Ole Miss was five outs away from the World Series on Saturday before Virginia came back to win Game 2 of the super regional and set up a winner take all today.

The Rebels have been in this position before, having one-game leads in super regionals in 2005 and 2006 before losing the final two games to Texas and Miami, respectively.

Both games against Virginia have been nailbiters that have come down to the final inning.

We’ll find out today if this is the year the Rebels finally knock down the door that stands between them and Omaha.

While Ole Miss fans are nervous, Southern Miss fans are elated.

The program had never even been to a super regional before this year and now sit just one victory away from its first appearance in the College World Series after beating Florida 9-7 on Saturday.

The Eagles have gotten hot at the right time and are trying to ride that momentum into Omaha.

It has been a good going-away present for coach Corky Palmer, who has announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Southern Miss fans are hoping that retirement party will be in Omaha, which would be a historic moment for the entire USM athletic program.

So it’s no wonder there are so many baseball fans in the area.

With so many great teams to cheer for, it’s hard not to get excited.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at