Want a (longshot) bet?

At a party over the weekend, I overheard a woman saying she had put a bet on 80-1 longshot Rich Strike to win the Kentucky Derby. While she did collect about $150, she was just one horse away from winning the trifecta – and pocketing over $300,000.

Or something like that. I know less about betting than I know about social media (remember, I had to get someone to make those awful videos disappear from my Facebook screen).

Over/under? That was a game we played during P.E. in high school – the one where you stand in line and pass the ball to the next person, one under, next over, etc.

One of my fondest (translated funniest) memories from that game was when I passed the ball to Susan McClamroch, who reached down between her legs to get the ball, stepped on her hair and came up with a handful of her ponytail. I figure the odds of that happening had to be greater than 80-1.

At 80-1, Rich Strike became the second-longest odds winner in the history of the Kentucky Derby, behind 1913 winner Donerail at 91-1 odds. I’m sure that means some people really raked in the dough. Out of curiosity, I looked up just how much money was actually wagered at the Triple Crown race this year.

Turns out, Rich Strike wasn’t the only one who made history. According to ESPN, a record $179 million was wagered at Churchill Downs this year. Turns out, also, that’s not even close to what was wagered at the Super Bowl ($1 billion) and even further removed from this year’s March Madness ($3.1 billion).

I don’t know how much will be wagered on this year’s College World Series – either in softball or baseball, but I’ve got a couple of bets for you.

The first one is a sure bet (I think that’s what they call a “lock”): take Oklahoma in the Women’s CWS. Now that the conference championships are under way, it won’t be long until we get to one of my new favorite times of the year – the WCWS. When OU goes to Oklahoma City to defend its title beginning on June 2, the Sooners will have the advantage of fielding one of the greatest players in college softball history.

Utility infielder (and NFCA Player of the Year last season) Jocelyn Alo, who became the all-time home run leader when she smashed her 96th career homer on March 11, will be trying to close out her Sooners’ career with another national championship. The Sooners, who return almost their entire team, also have returning NFCA Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings, who was second in the NCAA in home runs and led the nation in doubles.

If I were a betting person, that’s where my money would go.

I’m not sure who will be favored to win it all when the CWS begins June 16 in Omaha, Neb., but Tennessee has got to be the front-runner. If you’re looking for a dark horse, however, I’ve got one for you.

When Coastal Carolina won the national championship in 2016, it was the first time that a team won the title in its first CWS appearance since Minnesota in 1956. It was also the first national title for the Big South Conference. The Chanticleers joined the Sun Belt Conference shortly thereafter. Florida was the favorite going into the tournament that year.

While the Division I conference tournaments haven’t even gotten under way, I’ll give you an early long shot for this year’s CWS – Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels are currently leading the West Division of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Like the 2016 Chanticleers, the Colonels would be making their first-ever appearance in the national tournament.

If EKU makes it to the A-Sun Tournament (May 24-28), ends up winning the title, and makes it through the June 3-6 regional AND the Super Regional (June 10-13), the next stop would be Omaha. With closer Will Brian leading the nation in saves and left-fielder Kendal Ewell at No. 8 in the nation in batting average, the Colonels are primed for a Cinderella run.

Could the Colonels be the next Chanticleers? You can bet on it.


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