howell pic

Liberty Christian product Kason Howell, pictured with his family after signing with Auburn, will play center field for the Tigers this weekend in the College World Series.

Denton native Tim Tadlock has made Omaha, Nebraska, something of a second home over the last few years.

Tadlock is in his seventh season as the coach at Texas Tech and will guide the Red Raiders in the College World Series for the fourth time this week.

He’ll have plenty of company in the form of Denton-area talent when the eight-team event begins Saturday. Micah Dallas, a home-school product, is one of Tech’s starting pitchers, while Auburn center fielder Kason Howell is a former Liberty Christian standout.

Texas Tech will face Michigan in the opening game of the tournament at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha at 1 p.m. Saturday. Auburn plays Mississippi State at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The double-elimination event will culminate in a three-game championship series beginning June 24.

Tadlock has established himself as one of the top coaches in college baseball. The Denton graduate was named the national coach of the year by the website DI Baseball after guiding Tech to the CWS last season.

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Tadlock

Tadlock led the Red Raiders to the Big 12 regular-season title this season and followed up with NCAA regional and super regional wins.

Texas Tech beat Oklahoma State in dramatic fashion in the third game of the super regional to advance to the College World Series. Kurt Wilson hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning to cap a four-run rally that gave the Red Raiders an 8-6 win.

Dallas has been a key contributor during Tech’s run to the CWS. Tadlock promoted the Aubrey native to his weekend starting rotation in late March.

Dallas made his first collegiate start in an 11-2 win over the same Michigan team Tech will open the CWS against. He’s gone on to post a 7-0 record with a 3.38 ERA in 72 innings.

Micah Dallas mug

Dallas

Dallas was named to the All-Big 12 freshman team.

“It starts with his background,” Tadlock said after Dallas picked up the win in Tech’s victory over OSU in the first game of the super regional. “He’s a very grounded young man — doesn’t get too high or too low as far as week to week, understands the preparation he’s got to put in. You don’t always see that with a freshman, but he’s a guy that’s been really consistent in that regard.”

Howell, who graduated from Liberty last year and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round, has been a key part of Auburn’s run to Omaha as a true freshman. He’s hitting .261 with 27 RBIs and a team-high 14 stolen bases. His defensive prowess in center field has given the Tiger outfield a major boost.

Howell had two hits and an RBI in Auburn’s Game 3 win over North Carolina on Monday, and he has reached base in nine straight games.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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