A Diamond for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I look forward to it all winter. Through the dark and cold of December and January (which aren’t so bad in Nashville, usually, but still aren’t as great as summer), I count the days until the middle of February. Sometimes it seems like it will never arrive. Why the annual obsession with February 14, you ask? Well, with apologies to my wife, the answer is more a matter of calendar coincidence than romance. In fact, my wife would be the first to tell you that the middle of February means the end of a very long off-season and the return of my favorite sport. For me, Valentine’s Day means the start of the baseball season.
While the professionals were beginning spring training in Florida and Arizona this past weekend, the Vanderbilt Commodores were in the City of Long Beach, California to open the season against the Long Beach State University Dirtbags (and no, I’m not being rude, the LBSU baseball team is known as the Dirtbags). It was a great start to the season, with the ‘Dores sweeping the series to begin the season with a 3-0 record. The series began on Valentine’s Day with Vanderbilt’s ace Tyler Beede pitching 5 strong innings and retiring the last 13 batters he faced. On Saturday lefty Jared Miller led the ‘Dores to a 6-0 shutout of the Dirtbags. Freshman outfielder Bryan Reynolds helped Vanderbilt finish the sweep on Sunday by going 3-for-4 and driving in 3 runs. Now that’s what I call a Valentine’s Day present.
There are plenty of reasons for Commodore baseball fans to be excited at this time of year. This season promises to be another winning campaign under the leadership of Coach Tim Corbin, whose 465-229 record over the last 11 seasons marks him as one of the most successful coaches in college baseball. Last year Coach Corbin’s ‘Dores capped a 26-3 conference record with a trip to the Super Regionals. Even after losing 6 players from last year’s team to the MLB Amateur Draft, Corbin’s 2014 squad begins the season ranked No. 10 nationally. A deep pitching staff led by pre-season All-Americans Beede and Brian Miller looks like it will be a strength this year. It will be interesting to see how the team performs at the plate with many of last year’s big hitters no longer in the lineup.
Vanderbilt will again have to compete in a tough SEC field this year. Eight of the teams in the pre-season top 25 are fellow SEC schools. In preseason coach’s polling, the 14 SEC coaches predicted that the Commodores will finish second in the SEC East, behind No. 7 South Carolina, who Baseball America has named the SEC “team to beat.” Vanderbilt will have to wait until the final weekend of the regular season to get a chance to take on the Gamecocks, but right now it looks like that series could be important for both teams.
For the latest updates on the season, follow the official twitter account of Vanderbilt Baseball, and use the tag #VandyBoys when you post about the team. Vanderbilt plays its first home game of the season Wednesday, February 19 at 4:00 pm, when they host David Lipscomb University at Hawkins Field. If you’re like me, and you’ve been dreaming of the sights and sounds of the ballpark all winter, then get out to The Hawk and show the Commodores some love.