Coaches face tough situations at CWS
Notes: 87 percent of college coaches say new bats acceptable
OMAHA, Neb. – This isn’t Tim Corbin’s first trip to Omaha. The Vanderbilt head coach has been here before as an assistant with Clemson, along with Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who also was an assistant on those Tigers teams. But this is the first time that Corbin’s Commodores have reached to the College World Series.
The two have remained close, and if playing each other every year during conference play wasn’t bad enough, what if they meet in Omaha?
“Speaking on my part, I don't enjoy playing Tim,” O’Sullivan said. “I felt because I know number one, his team's very prepared and it's not going to be easy. But number two you hate to see anybody lose, and that's where your heart gets involved. That's one of the reasons I don't really have a desire to play them unless they pit us together.”
|2011 CWS Quick Reference Guide|
Saturday's Box Scores:
Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. ET
Texas vs. Florida at 7 p.m. ET
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|CWS Radio: WestwoodOne Broadcast|
Features: Officials Brace for Weather Issues
Sprinting Back to Action | Cal's Long Journey
Notebooks: Previewing the CWS | Dark Horses
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|Stats: Postseason | Division I Leaders|
|Video: Postseason | Remembering Rosenblatt|
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|Division I Championship History|
Corbin and his Commodores won’t worry about that though. They finally got over the hump, making it to Omaha for the first time in school history, despite being so close in past years.
“We've come close. There is a difference to having regular-season success and postseason success over the years,” Corbin said. “We were just getting to the regionals the last couple of years, and we were very frustrated this last year. We thought this group could take us forward, but you never know. It would have to go right. We're fortunate to play here, and just glad it's probably a relief for some people. But now that we're here, we just want to play ball.”
This Time It Would Count: Vanderbilt and Texas don’t meet often on the baseball diamond. The last time they met during a season was in Austin in the 2004 Super Regionals, when Texas swept Tim Corbin’s club in two games.
The two did meet this past fall for two games, again in Austin. The Commodores and Longhorns split the two mid-October games, which are set by some teams to break up the monotony of fall ball. It’s also seen as a way to see how your team stacks up against another. And now they may meet on college baseball’s biggest stage in Omaha. Each knew the other may be here.
“Well, the answer is yes, not just because he's sitting here but because of the pitching that they had,” Corbin said. “It was our first look at a Texas team. And just knowing how they play, the confidence level for how they play, and his experience through the years in taking clubs there, it was quite possible. You definitely could see that. And that's exactly why we went there to get that experience against a team that we felt would be here.”
“My impression of their team was they were extremely well structured and that's what brought consistency throughout the year,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “Just that the team is not made up of individual stars. They're made up of very talented people that compliment each other. They have good balance between their pitching and defense and the offensive players.”
Power Outage: One of the most talked about topics in collegiate baseball this year has been the institution of the new BBCOR standards for metal bats, and it was one of the main subjects at the NCAA “State of Baseball” press conference on Friday.
Administrators, coaches and players knew the new bat standards would affect the game in terms of power, but perhaps not everyone realized how drastic the changes would be. Home runs numbers are way down, and for some teams the drop-off is dramatic.
“Well, after looking at our offensive statistics, the committee decided they didn't need to test our bats,” Garrido said. “We hit 81 home runs last year and we hit 18 this year, so there's been a change. Whether that's better or not, it doesn't make any difference. It's the way it is. So that's the way it's affected us. We'll just have to find a way to score a run every now and then. [Florida head coach] Kevin's [O’Sullivan] got more [individuals] with home runs than our team.”
Florida leads the eight-team field with 67 homers, paced by catcher Mike Zunino, who has belted 18 on the year.
|How Has BBCOR Affected the Game?|
|Take an interactive look into the CWS to see how the new bat requirements have changed collegiate baseball.|
American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Dave Keilitz surveyed coaches from Divisions I, II and III with a 73 percent rate of participation. He asked if they a) liked the new bats, b) found the bats acceptable, or c) did not like the bats. Only 13 percent of those surveyed did not like the bats, while 16 percent of Division I coaches did not like the bats.
“I think overall it's been well accepted,” Keilitz said. “The coaches feel that they know it's here to stay, and they're going to adapt to that.”
“Personally I like the bat,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “I think it balances out the game a little bit. I think at first there was a lot of talk about it, but midway through the season there was less talk because the subject, quite frankly, was tired. I think kids started learning to hit with it. Bottom line, if you hit the ball, it will take off.”
Hitting Home: As tough as it is for anyone to see the results of the Missouri River flooding, it’s especially tough for Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor.
While Omaha has been deemed safe from the flood waters, neighboring parts of Iowa can not say the same. O’Connor, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, saw the waters on the flight into town Thursday.
“I can tell you being from here, looking out the window of the plane as we were approaching the airport, I felt really, really sad,” O’Connor said. “My wife was sitting with me on the plane and the kids. My wife's from here also. Just to see the farmland around the airport all washed away and everything, it's terrible for the people here.”
Injury Update: A few key players may be back for some teams that have missed parts or all of the postseason, including:
• Florida starting pitcher Brian Johnson was cleared by the Gators’ medical staff to pitch. First baseman and closer Austin Maddox will likely pitch at some point as well, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in the lineup too fast.
• California starting pitcher Justin Jones is day-to-day with a strain in his bicep. Jones, who hurt it during Game 1 of the Super Regionals against Dallas Baptist, has been ruled out of Sunday’s game, but may see action if the Golden Bears have a long enough stay.
• South Carolina’s Jackie Bradley Jr. took batting practice Thursday for the first time since injuring his left wrist in April, and was put on the 27-man roster by head coach Ray Tanner. While that’s great news for the Gamecocks, leadoff hitter Evan Marzilli tweaked a hamstring Thursday, and is considered day-to-day.