Vanderbilt Baseball: Commodores Finally Living Up to Preseason Expectations

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IMay 26, 2012

It took them long enough, but the Vanderbilt Commodores are finally beginning to live up to their No. 12 preseason ranking.

The Commodores have won four-straight SEC series, and now find themselves right in the thick of things in the SEC tournament.

That includes series wins over No. 5 LSU and No. 12 Kentucky.

They've already played a huge role in eliminating defending national champion South Carolina in the SEC tournament, and most likely popped Georgia's postseason bubble.

The Commodores have made a huge statement over the last two weeks that they're a team to be dealt with in the postseason. 

However, if you looked at this team two months ago, you would have thought the exact opposite about this team.

They had ugly losses to the likes of San Diego, Evansville and Louisiana Tech before being swept by Florida.

It really didn't make sense how poorly this team was performing during that miserable stretch. They were struggling to score runs despite having a solid hitting lineup led by upperclassmen Connor Harrell, Mike Yastrzemski and Anthony Gomez.

One thing that has been the key to the Commodores staying in the postseason picture has been their RPI, which remained respectable all season thanks to their strength of schedule.

The SEC has once again been a very tough conference, and starting off against Stanford and Oregon did wonders for their RPI.

The Commodores remained resilient and realized it was a long season ahead, and now they're hot at just the right time with a very talented roster that is finally hitting its stride.

Now the Commodores have a chance to get a very favorable seeding in college baseball's NCAA Tournament, which they were in danger of missing just a few weeks ago.

The starting rotation has been hot and cold, but the bullpen has really improved as the season has progressed.

All the credit in the world has to go to head coach Tim Corbin, who put this program on the map when he took the job a decade ago.

He really did what great managers do, which is keep his team focused and battling through the grind of a 50-plus game schedule.

Regardless of the outcome of the SEC tournament, the Commodores will be a dangerous team in the NCAA tournament.

The up-and-down pitching rotation is one thing that still needs to improve if the Commodores have any hopes of making a trip to Omaha.

The selections will be announced Monday, and the Commodores have put their early season hiccups well behind them by doing what great teams do: String together series wins and take care of business in the conference tournament.


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