baseball-d1 flag

Doug Kroll | | June 22, 2014

What lies ahead?

vandy-uva-crystalball-360.jpeg Virginia's Derek Fisher (left) and Vanderbilt's Zander Wiel gaze into the crystal ball.
On the next few days ...

“Just like it was against Texas, it’s going to be an absolute battle between two really good teams. We know Virginia is solid up and down. They have pitching and hitting, and so do we. We know it’s going to be great baseball. But, you know, the prediction I’m going to make is Commodores in two. Shocking, I know.”

On Monday's pre-game routine ...

“It’ll be the same deal. You can’t do stuff different just because it’s a big game. You have to stay in the same routine. You can’t put stress on yourself in this situation. You have to try and stay relaxed and go about business the same way. At the end of the day, it’s still just a baseball game. [Monday], we’ll wake up, get breakfast, go back and take a little nap. Then we’ll head to the field and have a loose batting practice, loose ground balls. When the game gets closer and closer, that’s when you reel it back and start to focus in.”

On preparing for Monday’s starter Nathan Kirby...

“Usually the morning of the game, that’s when we start to talk about the starting pitcher. Just look at what his strengths are and what he might attack us with. We know he’s very good, ACC Pitcher of the Year, we know he’s done great things this year. We’re not taking him for granted at all. [Monday] morning we’ll sit down as an offensive unit and iron our plan out.”

On the thought process during the CWS Finals …

“I say a prayer before every at bat. I’m just like, ‘You have to help me help my team the best way I can.’ That’s how you have to look at it. You can’t be up there being like, ‘I have to get a hit. I have to get a hit.’ I need to do my best to help my team right now – that’s what you need to be thinking. You can’t put pressure on yourself. It just needs to be a team mentality in those team moments.”

On the thought of a national championship while being recruited …

“Champions were discussed indirectly, Omaha was definitely discussed because that year, in 2011, they went to the College World Series. You talk about the prestige at a program like Vanderbilt. In just over a decade they’ve gone from not really being on the map as far as college baseball is concerned, to being one of the best programs in the country. That’s what was talked about, and the opportunities in a program like this that you’ll have. It wasn’t necessarily ‘We’re going to get to the championship round.’”

On looking back at the season’s lowest moment and how far away the CWS Finals felt …

“The lowest point of the season was the SEC tournament. We won our first game and then we got bounced in the next two -- and they weren’t good losses. We weren’t playing our baseball. We weren’t playing our game. This all still seemed possible, even though it crossed people’s minds ‘If we keep playing like this, we’re not going to be successful.’ As a team, we sat down and we looked at ourselves and we thought that at this point in the season, we’re still a 40-win team. We did work at the beginning of the season to put us in a position to get a fantastic seed and host a regional. When we hosted, that week of practice was fantastic. When we were in the regional we felt fantastic. Not playing for a week made us hungry to get back out there and from that point on, we’ve just been clicking on all cylinders.”

On the next few days ...

“When we clinched to play for a national championship, it’s something that we all dreamed of to get to this point. You talk to either side, we’re going to take nothing less than to win a national championship. Something for certain is that you have the two best teams playing up to this point and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

On Monday's pre-game routine ...

“I don’t think we’re going to change anything. We got to this point for a reason and we’re as good as we are for a reason and to change something like that on a little bit different of a stage isn’t something that we’re going to do. We’re going to act like this is a home game at Davenport [Stadium] and there just happen to be a few more fans. We’re going to wake up and get breakfast and get our minds right. Some guys do different things, and baseball being a sport where some guys can be a little weird – we’ll have a lot of fun.

On preparing for
Vanderbilt’s arsenal of pitchers including Walker Buehler ...

“It’s good to know who you’re going to face, but one thing is for certain when you’re playing a team like Vanderbilt is you’re going to get a good arm. You can’t hope for anything. You have to take it as it’s given. I’ve seen a little bit of [Bueheler] when I’ve been hanging out at the hotel and he’s a good pitcher.

On the thought process during the CWS Finals …

“This is the biggest field any of us have ever played on with this many fans. I can say that I got pretty comfortable with our surroundings, but when you have that many people in the stands and you can see the bleachers in the outfield, it’s a little bit different. It’s definitely a good thing. You just have to stay cool, calm and collected like I have been all year.

On the thought of a national championship while being recruited …

“When you’re getting recruited they promise you that they are going to push you to your limits and make you the best player you can be. They also preach that you’re going to be able to mature and grow up a little bit. I can give them credit. They’ve done everything they’ve said. I definitely get pushed to my limits and I’m definitely a better person and a better player.

On looking back at the season’s lowest moment and how far away the CWS Finals felt …

“Omaha is always going to be in the back of your head, but something I can give our team credit for is that you start from the base. You don’t start panicking and saying ‘Oh, we’re not good enough to win a national championship.’ You have to take a step back and that may not sound like a good thing but it was the right thing to do. Our team is definitely the most talented I’ve ever played on. There was a script at the beginning of the year. There was a script where everyone wanted it to be the perfect season and the Virginia Cavaliers were going to be the best Virginia Cavaliers team in the history of Virginia. It didn’t go as scripted, but we handled it well. We’re definitely here for a reason and just have fun playing the game that we all love.

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 16 - 26, 2023
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