1. FORM HOLDS SO FAR

There are no surprises among the eight teams playing for the national championship. Each of the top eight seeds qualified for the WCWS for the first time since 2006. The sharpness of the selection committee’s acumen suggests the closest opening-day matchup will be the one between fourth-seeded Auburn and fifth-seeded LSU.

2. THE EXPERIENCE GAP

Auburn and UCLA are the only teams that don’t have players with previous WCWS experience. Auburn, in fact, is making its first trip to the WCWS. “If we can enjoy the moment but still be able to focus in the moment,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said, “that’s going to be what we have to do.”

3. TRULY A NEUTRAL FIELD

For the first time in five seasons, the field is on equal footing. Oklahoma qualified the past four years and won the WCWS two years ago, playing in front of large, red-clad partisan crowds each season. But the Sooners lost to Alabama in the third game of the Tuscaloosa super regional.