CHAPEL HILL – The Carolina Baseball team headed out for the College World Series in Omaha Thursday morning. Fans came out to wish the Diamond Heels luck in their journey, with big hopes of bringing home the program’s first NCAA Championship.
“I’m just watching all of our freshman—this is a first time for them. To see how excited they are in the locker room, they don’t know what to expect,” said UNC head coach Mike Fox.
It’s his sixth time in 15 years as Carolina’s head coach to take the team to the CWS.
Freshman Skye Bolt says he’s been to Omaha a few times as a fan, but can’t wait to take to the diamond as a player for the first time.
Female fans, with huge smiles on their faces, crowded around the outfielder before he joined his teammates on the bus.
“It’s a sign of the appreciation that they have for us and we have for them. They’ve been packing the house all year. It’s good to see them come out and be excited like we are too. It’s a family group effort,” Bolt said.
Bolt, who battled back from a fractured right foot this season, drove-in the winning run against South Carolina in game one of Super Regional. He says he’s ready to face ACC rival NC State in Carolina’s CWS opener on Sunday.
“I don’t think we needed to travel 5,000 plus miles to play them. We could just head down the road, but I think it couldn’t have been scripted any better to open up our trip out there,” Bolt said.
UNC claimed the season series against the Wolfpack, 2-1, thanks to a 2-1 win in an 18 inning thriller in the ACC Tournament.
The teams had previously split the regular season series in Raleigh, with game three getting rained out.
“We know each other pretty well. We don’t have to do a scouting report, that is for sure,” Fox said.
One of the fans who will be cheering from home as the Heels face take-on the Wolfpack is six-year-old Will Cooper.
“I wanted to come see the Tar Heels leave for Omaha because I’m a big, huge Tar Heel fan. I love the Tar Heels so much! My favorite player is Cody Stubbs, Cooper said.
Cooper got his wish to meet Stubbs and even get his baseball signed by the first baseman.
Stubbs, a senior who transferred to UNC after for his junior season, will travel to Omaha for the first time
“I don’t know if it will feel completely real until we step off the plane. It’s something I’ve dreamt about since I was a little kid.” Stubbs said.
To make it to the CWS, the ACC Regular Season and ACC tournament Champs have had to make big comebacks, and fight through extra innings, and rain delays during post-season play.
“You can just go back and watch all of our games, from the Regional to the Super Regional, nothing was easy, nothing was given to us. It certainly was a great challenge but it was a special one for me and I’ve enjoyed every second of it,” Stubbs said.
Carolina is no stranger to Omaha, sitting at a record of 15-19 all-time in the CWS. The Heels advanced to the final series in 2006 and 2007, losing both years to Oregon State.
“Out there on that stage, it’s more about being there and being in Omaha you opponent is your opponent and everyone is good,” Fox said.
First pitch is set for 3 p.m. Sunday against the Wolfpack. WCHL and Chapelboro.com will be broadcasting and live-streaming all of the action.