Sunday's game in Dodger will be a lot of fun. It's the inaugural matchup on the baseball field between two programs who've been a big part of the college baseball zeitgeist this decade. Seemingly, the Commodores haven't missed a step from winning a National Championship. But what should we expect from this weekend? We sat down with our friend Jennifer Greening to find out what we should expect for this weekend.
We'll have a UCLA preview later today. I'm still trying to let last night's call digest. Plus, even though I'm out in LA, I'm still on a Central time schedule. So I've had two more hours of torture thinking about it.
First off, welcome. As far as I know, this is the first interaction between Frogs O’War and either of y’all. Really excited to do this. ….It’s still early in the season. But what are y’all most excited to see this weekend?
Let the first interaction be a good one! Thanks for reaching out to us. Personally, what I’m mostly looking forward to seeing this weekend is the different style of baseball the west can bring. Baseball is played differently in different parts of the country, and I think that’s why non-conference games like these are most interesting. It should be a good setup all around, with all teams involved
As for you Vandy, I’m not sure who y’all will see Sunday. Going along with what I said above, I’d hoped to see Morrison throw Saturday or Sunday. UCLA and Vandy are both terrific teams, and he’d give both a tough time. But what it really comes down to is what Schloss wants to do with our typical Saturday starter, Tyler Alexander. He had a phenomenal freshman year, but has been a little out of synch this season. Are y’all keeping the rotation as you would any other weekend or are y’all changing things up a bit given the special circumstances?
That’s a tough call. We’re pretty set on our Friday starter with Carson Fulmer, who has been starting pretty solid for us. John Kilichowski has been consistent for Saturday, although not all of those games ended well for us, and the most trouble we have is for Sunday. Kyle Wright tossed some for us the last couple weeks, and before that it was Tyler Ferguson, but it all comes down to Tim Corbin and what he feels is best. He may shake up the entire rotation just for this series, but I can’t tell what’s in his head. Personally, I was hoping to see a spot start from Phil Pfiefer, who has been undeniably reliable in the bullpen, but that probably means he’ll stay there.
What is the baseball cultures like at Vandy? Are the fans split between students and alumni, or does it lean one way or the other? And where does baseball rank in comparison to the other major sports?
Baseball ranks third out of three for our conference. The SEC is a "football conference," but every team gets pretty into basketball once football is done. After that, baseball gets a lot of support in the SEC, but it’s not something the entire schools go nuts over unless they win. That being said, the SEC has seen a lot of national success over the last 10 years or so, particularly with LSU and South Carolina. And now Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt’s fanbase is more alumni than students from what I’ve noticed, but there is a much better student turnout than some other SEC schools. It tries to be an old-fashioned culture in my opinion, now with older fans catching onto newer ideas and themes, and the students and athletes like to have fun with it. (Check out the Reynolds wrap, with Bryan Reynolds awkwardly interviewing other student-athletes. They're cute little webisodes.)
The Commodores have been so fantastic the past few years. The SEC is really competitive in baseball; what’s it like to have bragging rights for baseball? Should we expect another deep Omaha run, and possibly another National Title this year? Is this year’s team better than last year's?
This is my first year covering Vanderbilt baseball, but that’s not to say I haven’t been keeping my eyes on them since I was in school at Auburn. Vanderbilt has had some solid players recently and that’s proven with a National Championship as well as success for the drafted players in pro ball. With Corbin’s recruiting, that trend isn’t going to end. It’s tough to say whether this team is better than last year’s; it’s supposed to be, but it’s too early in the season to say. What I can say, however, is that this is a National Championship team, and they play like one. You can expect another trip to Omaha from the Commodores this year...
Give me three players to look out for this weekend
In the lineup, you need to watch out for Zander Wiel. He’s been on a hot streak with the long ball and the bases loaded. There’s no slowing down Big Wiels. (Or Hot Wiels. I can’t decide what nickname I’m going to give him.) Anyway, on the mound, you need to watch out for Phil Pfiefer. He’s a solid reliever and he has nothing but motivation every time he takes the mound; he’s been off it for a while, so he doesn’t take it for granted. Finally, you always need to watch out for Dansby Swanson: he’s the bee’s knees. Seriously, though. Swanson has speed and a consistent bat. And he’s been known to hit the long ball in some clutch situations. Those would be my three players, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the lineup should be overlooked.
Finally, as I call it, the Great American pastime--predictions. How does Vanderbilt finish this weekend? How do the Trojans finish?
I think Vanderbilt will finish 2-1. We just got our first sweep this past weekend, and we really should have been sweeping all season long. Now, which team we lose to, I couldn’t tell you. We have a tendency to beat ourselves in the middle of the series. But don’t ever count out a good comeback: this team can rally from any deficit