David Pierce is treating Omaha like a new trip. After all, for most of the Texas baseball team, this is the first time they're been here.

Texas (47-15) last played at TD Ameritrade Park in 2018. Pierce watched his team look lost in an 11-5 loss to No. 5 Arkansas before finally finding its rhythm midway through Game 2 against No. 1 Florida.

The only problem? Florida held a 6-0 lead, eventually getting the 6-1 win.

"It almost looked like then we took a breath," Pierce said of the team's last visit to Omaha, Neb.

This time around, the young core of Texas is ready to compete. The College World Series is underway and with it, the Longhorns enter as the highest seed in the tournament.

As for winning it all? Their toughest battle of the week might come Sunday against No. 7 Mississippi State. And don't let the series against Notre Dame fool you — when they're hot, they're one of the best in the country.

"For an SEC team. I think they run better than most SEC teams," Pierce said. "They have power arms. A big part of their pitching staff is relying on the strikeout. They play with a lot of confidence and they've been here three years in a row so, these guys are veterans."

The Bulldog (46-16) were one of six teams that traveled to Globe Life Field to open the season at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown. Each team began the season ranked top 10, simply stating that everyone was at a near level.

For Ty Madden (7-4, 2.47 ERA), his first outing against the Bulldogs was far from his best. The Longhorns allowed two home runs, including a three-run dinger from Luke Hancock to take the 8-3 win.

Things have changed since then for both sides. Pierce believed that all six teams (five of six made it to the super regionals) could be headed to Omaha. The Bulldogs also know that the team in February is not the same one in June.

"We're going to play a very well-coached team, a blue-blood of college baseball," Mississippi State's Chris Lemonis said. "They've always been great at pitching and defense and then they're very athletic so they're going to make you make plays on them. They're going to steal bases. And they've got some guys that are going to hit it out of the park."

Madden will get the call Sunday night against MSU's Will Bednar (7-1, 3.53 ERA). The Bulldogs already know what to expect from the projected first-round pick in next month's draft. The Longhorns didn't see the MSU's ace due to an early-season injury.

Of course, Lemonis commented on Texas' young bullpen, who combined with the big three, post the NCAA's lowest ERA since the start of the tournament.

"They're talented," Lemonis said. "We've watched them, we watched some of the TCU series earlier in the year just as a fan and I'm really impressed.

"Obviously, everybody in Omaha new for the first time has pressure but man, it's power arms and it's really impressive."

Texas first baseman Zach Zubia understands the pressure when coming to TD. As one of just two members from the 2018 squad still in Austin, he can still remember the strong season ending on a sour note early.

Zubia calls this time around unfinished business for the Longhorns. It starts with a win to close out the opening round. And hopefully, the senior first baseman will hear the "Zuuu's" from the crowd one last time representing the Forty Acres.

"Hopefully we can have a huge crowd out here Sunday night and continue that throughout the whole week," Zubia said.

Who will win between Texas and Mississippi State? Comment and join in on the discussion below!

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