When the UCLA Bruins take the field for the championship series of the College World Series against South Carolina, it will be more than just a game. The team will be playing for themselves, coaches, school and a man, a coach named John Wooden. Just 24 days following the passing of the greatest coach to ever, the UCLA baseball game will play in game one of a best of three series to claim the national championship.
The UCLA softball team claimed the national championship in Oklahoma City on June 8 with a 15-9 win over Arizona. The Bruins won the first of the championship series the day prior, 6-5, over the Wildcats. If the baseball team can follow suit it would not only be the first national championship in the sport for the school, but the first time in history a single school claimed the softball and baseball championships in the same season.
Prior to this season, the Bruins baseball team had not won a game in Omaha and now in the final season at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, the team is playing for its first-ever title. UCLA has used strong pitching and inspired bats to blow through competition. The Bruins have lost just one game in Omaha, a 6-2 setback to Omaha newcomer TCU. UCLA blasted the Horned Frogs in Saturday’s game, 10-3 to secure its spot in the championship series.
John Wooden was name in 2009 as the “Greatest Coach of All-Time” by The Sporting News. He is well known for his time spent as the Head Basketball Coach of UCLA, most notably his 10 NCAA titles. Wooden claimed seven of the 10 in a row, including four undefeated seasons.
Although this is not basketball, rather baseball, there are some ties to the coach. When the first pitch is thrown at 6:30 CT, the Bruins will have plenty to play for. They will play for the first national championship in the sport at UCLA. They will play for themselves and the success they have shared over the course of the city. They will play for their families that have helped them with their success. They will play to become the final champion in the history of Rosenblatt Stadium.
They will also play to become the first school to ever claim the softball and baseball championships in the same season. How fitting would it be to do it in the same month the University lost a legend, a many who won many titles and holds many records in NCAA history. This is the year for a championship. This is the year for a record. This is the year for UCLA.
John Wooden was more than a coach. John Wooden was UCLA.