begins CWS with preview show begins CWS with preview show begins CWS with preview show
It's time to see if anyone can match the pitching of No. 1 Virginia, led by left-hander Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft by Seattle.

It's time for eight schools, a showcase of future Major League Baseball talent, double-elimination tension and the tradition that brings an annual focus to Omaha, Neb.

The College World Series Preview Show starts at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, leading you into the opening action at TD Ameritrade Park. The show will be hosted by Pete McCarthy, with former Mets and Orioles general manager Jim Duquette analyzing in the studio and four-time World Series champion Jeff Nelson doing the interviews from Omaha.

The College World Series then begins on ESPN with No. 6 Vanderbilt (52-10) vs. No. 3 North Carolina (50-14) at 2 p.m. ET, followed by No. 7 Texas (49-17) vs. No. 2 Florida (50-17) at 7. Sunday's openers feature California (37-21) against Hultzen and Virginia (54-10) at 2 p.m. ET, followed by Texas A&M (47-20) vs. No. 4 South Carolina (50-14) at 7.

While the Major League Baseball season moves closer toward its All-Star break, will continue to keep a close eye on the college front. That includes live coverage of Tuesday's Dick Howser Trophy announcement in Omaha, and then a live stream of College Baseball's Night of Champions on July 3 in Lubbock, Texas.

This will be the 25th anniversary of the Dick Howser Trophy presentation, to be awarded this time at TD Ameritrade Park at 11 a.m. ET, prior to the fourth day of the College World Series. The award, likened to football's Heisman Trophy, is given in memory of the former Florida State All-American shortstop and Major League player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987.

Recent winners include: Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon (drafted No. 6 overall by the Nationals) last year; San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) in 2009; Florida State catcher Buster Posey (Giants) in 2008; and Vanderbilt pitcher David Price (Rays) in 2007.

The College World Series will conclude on either June 28 or 29 with the best-of-three championship series, and then the focus will shift down to Lubbock, where will provide live coverage of a newly created "Night of Champions" program, combining the College Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony with the College Baseball Awards Show.

Red Sox fans will be among those expected to watch on that night of July 3, with Boston manager Terry Francona among this year's inductees. Francona is expected to record his 1,000th career win as a Major League manager shortly after the All-Star break, but first he will be given a little walk back in time to his days as a University of Arizona outfielder.

Francona, the National Player of the Year for the Wildcats in 1980, will be inducted along with Danny Goodwin (Southern University catcher), Dick Groat (Duke shortstop), Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (Grambling State coach), Oddibe McDowell (Arizona State outfielder), Tim Wallach (Cal State Fullerton first baseman, now Dodgers first-base coach) and Bill Wilhelm (Clemson coach).

The new website, powered by MLB Advanced Media, has just launched, and will honor and showcase the game's rich past while annually celebrating current collegiate baseball achievements. The site features new content and an enhanced experience within its structure, serving as the one-stop site for the latest on Hall of Fame news, including updates on upcoming events, ticket information and opportunities. Baseball fans can also stay in touch by signing up for the College Baseball Hall of Fame's e-newsletter.

Francona played for the Sun Devils from 1978 to '80, and won the Golden Spikes Award in his final season. He led the Pac 10 South in hits, RBIs and doubles in his last two seasons, and was Most Outstanding Player at the 1980 College World Series, helping the Wildcats to the title. Montreal drafted Francona in the first round in 1980, and he went on to a 10-year playing career before eventually starting his run as a manager with the Phillies, and then the Red Sox.

"I was fortunate to play for the University of Arizona and head coach Jerry Kindall," Francona said of the 2007 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. "Not only did he teach us to respect the game of baseball, but also to respect people -- pretty valuable lessons for an 18-year-old. I am honored to be selected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame."

Francona will join a list of College Hall of Fame legends that includes Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, Dave Winfield, Barry Larkin, George Sisler, Dick Howser, Joe Carter, Fred Lynn, Will Clark and Rod Dedeaux.

Mike Gustafson, executive director of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, said combining the induction ceremony and the awards show this year was a decision to bring the past and present together in a way all baseball fans should want to watch.

"It will be special to see them together, being recognized on the same night," he said. "It's also better because everyone who is involved is here at the same time for the same event."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of You also can leave comments on his Blogs Central community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.