The Titans (32-22) got Coach Rick Vanderhook back from a 16-game suspension and immediately went on a tear. Vanderhook was on administrative leave while school officials investigated his conduct around the team.
Now Fullerton is faced with what might be the nation's toughest regional as opening-round action begins Friday.
The Titans play Nebraska (40-19) at the Stillwater (Okla.) Regional. Top-seeded Oklahoma State (45-16) plays Binghamton in the other Friday game at that regional. Fullerton is seeded third.
Long Beach draws a tournament (pale) blue blood, opening against North Carolina (34-25) at the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional. Top-seeded
Irvine backed into the playoffs, losing eight of its last nine conference games after a blistering 14-1 start. The Anteaters (35-22) open against Nevada Las Vegas (35-23) at the Corvallis Regional. Oregon State (42-12), the top-seeded team in the tournament, meets North Dakota State (25-24) in the regional's other opener.
Conference champion Cal Poly (45-10) is one of only three teams -- Bryant and
The Mustangs, who hit .300 and had a 2.96 ERA, open against Sacramento State (39-22). In the regional's other game,
Pepperdine is led by two-way threat Aaron Brown, a junior left-hander who had an 11-1 record and 2.24 ERA and hit .320 with 12 home runs and 45 runs batted in.
Here are a few other around-the-horn tidbits about this year's tournament field:
* Fullerton's 23-year streak of consecutive regional berths is the third-longest in the nation. Miami will be making its 42nd straight appearance; Florida State has made the field the last 37 years.
* Hosting a regional is a very good thing. Last year, 14 of the 16 hosts advanced to the next step of the playoffs, a best-two-of-three-games super regional.
* Being the top-seeded team overall is not a very good thing. Oregon State will be fighting a history that has seen only one top-seeded team win the national title since 1999.
* Where's last year's national champion? Home. UCLA finished with a record of 25-30-1.
* Louisiana Lafayette enters regional action with 53 wins -- eight more than any other team.
* The tournament's most famous player: