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Burke Granger | | June 3, 2021

2021 NCAA baseball tournament preview: Nashville Regional

The college baseball freshmen who've made the biggest impact in 2021

Reigning national champion Vanderbilt is once again among the top teams in the field. With a patient offense that can run up pitch counts, Georgia Tech is dangerous. Indiana State has a couple key holdovers from a 2019 squad that finished second in the Nashville Regional, and that experience should pay dividends. The Big South tournament champions, Presbyterian earned its spot with two hard fought wins against at-large bid Campbell. 

1. Vanderbilt: Regular Season Results | Team Stats and Leaders
2. Georgia Tech: Regular Season Results Team Stats and Leaders
3. Indiana State: Regular Season Results Team Stats and Leaders
4. Presbyterian: Regular Season Results Team Stats and Leaders

Nashville Regional Superlatives

Most Exciting Player: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt

Whether he’s creating opportunities on the basepaths or running down balls in center field, Bradfield has game-changing speed that’s evident on both sides of the ball. The consummate igniter at the top of the lineup, the freshman gets on base at an extraordinarily high clip (.477) and leads the nation in stolen bases (42).   

MORE: Complete coverage of the DI baseball championship | Bracket 

Best Hitter: Luke Waddell, SS, Georgia Tech

A remarkably consistent hitter during his time on campus, Waddell has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the country and has walked (29) nearly twice as often as he’s struck out (16).  

Best Defensive Player: Max Wright, C, Indiana State

A four-year starter behind the dish, Wright provides invaluable experience, and Sycamores coach Mitch Hannahs likened the senior’s impact to having another coach around. Recently selected to the MVC All-Defensive Team, Wright has yet to make an error this season. 

2021 NCAA DI baseball tournament bracket selection show

Best Pitcher: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

The SEC Newcomer of the Year, Leiter has dominated headlines and lineups alike this season, culminating with a 16-strikeout no-hitter against South Carolina in his first conference start. Honorable mention goes to his teammate Kumar Rocker, of course. 

X-Factor: Eric Toth, 1B/RF/RHP, Presbyterian

A juco transfer, Toth comes to Presbyterian via Coastal Alabama CC. A two-way standout, he’s slashing .272/.343/.467 with a team leading 12 doubles, and eight homers, while also serving as the Blue Hose closer (3-1, 3.24, 8 SV).

Best Starting Rotation: Vanderbilt

Two of the best starters in the college baseball landscape, Rocker and Leiter set the bar in terms of a 1-2 punch. After spending much of the season as the midweek starter, early enrollee Christian Little (3-1, 5.02) took a big step forward in the SEC tournament last weekend, holding Ole Miss to one run on three hits over five and a third. Absurdly, the young righthander won’t turn 18 for another month. Thomas Schultz (4-2, 4.29) and Patrick Reilly (4-2, 4.54) have shown glimpses during stints in the rotation as well. 

TOURNAMENT FAQ: Conference champ tracker | Regional sites | How the CWS works

Best Bullpen: Vanderbilt.

The #VandyBoys can shorten games in a number of ways, with Nick Maldonado (2.23, 5 SV), Luke Murphy (2.83, 7 SV), and Chris McElvain (3.79, 2 SV) making up the core of go-to righthanders out of the pen. Similarly, Hugh Fisher (2.45, .139 BAA) and Nelson Berkwich (1-0, 2.31) create difficult matchups from the left side.   

Best Offensive Team: Vanderbilt

The Commodores are seventh in the country in slugging (.509), and their team batting average (.301) is tops in the SEC by 10 points. The lineup has dangerous hitters up and down the lineup, including veteran third baseman Jayson Gonzalez, who’s slashing .297/.404/.500 from the nine-hole. 

Best Defensive Team: Vanderbilt

With Bradfield in center, Carter Young at shortstop and CJ Rodriguez behind the dish, Vanderbilt is exceptionally strong up the middle. Whether at second base or filling in for the injured Young at short, Tate Kolwyck has shown soft hands and above-average lateral range to either side. Isaiah Thomas covers more ground than your typical right fielder and has an above-average arm. 

WHAT TO KNOW: 1 thing about each team in the 2021 DI baseball tournament field

No. 1 Seed Win Probability (1-10): 8.

The No. 4 National Seed with a 27-6 record at Hawkins Field, Vanderbilt is the heavy favorite to advance. 

This article first appeared on and continues there with a team-by-team breakdown of every regional.

For more stories like this one, you can use coupon code NCAA2021 to get a 20 percent discount for an annual subscription to or

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