Defending Champs Turn Page to New Season

Commodores open fall training

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a little more than two months since Vanderbilt capped one of the greatest seasons in program history with a national championship. On Tuesday, the Commodores began the process of writing the next chapter when they opened fall training at Hawkins Field.

“In the right setting I’ll talk about (the national championship). It’s certainly something I don’t want to ignore because it’s an experience and these experiences do help – specifically kids that are here now and kids who wanted to be here,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “But outside how it works its way into the communication with the team, I just don’t talk about it. If it has a point and it has some validity I’ll use it. If it doesn’t, there’s no sense in really communicating about it because we’ve got other things to talk about.”

Corbin enters his 18th season at the helm of one of the most-successful college baseball programs in the country. The Dores’ head coach is now 740-354-1 at Vandy and has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament 14 straight seasons.

In June, Corbin and Vanderbilt beat Michigan two out of three times in Omaha, Nebraska, to capture the school’s second national title. The celebration of that accomplishment has been ongoing, but Corbin and his Commodores know they now have to move forward.

That started Tuesday.

“We’re looking for guys to compete, we’re looking for people to learn how to communicate with one another, learn how to transition in a drill, learn how to understand a drill, learn how to understand why we do the things we do and at the speed that we do them,” Corbin said about the start of the fall season. “I just think it’s a learning process for everyone. It’s a learning process for the older kids in terms of adapting their leadership behaviors. Really it’s just coordinating the efforts of a group and just understanding how we get from point A to point B.”

Vanderbilt begins its 2019 fall training with only two seniors, second baseman Harrison Ray and catcher Ty Duvall. That’s a sharp drop from last year’s squad which featured five seniors, two redshirt juniors and six juniors.

Corbin brought in 15 true freshmen, among them pitcher Jack Leiter, pitcher and infielder Spencer Jones and infielder Carter Young, but Vandy also returns pitchers Kumar Rocker and Mason Hickman and infielder Austin Martin, to name a few.

That group will have lofty expectations and standards following in the footsteps of a team that won the SEC’s regular season, the SEC tournament and, of course, the national title.

“There’s no such thing as repeating when you haven’t done anything. And we haven’t done anything,” Corbin said. “All they can do is replicate days of good behaviors. But in terms of relating something that they’ve never done before, these kids, all 35 of them, are brand new. That includes the people that have been here three years because they’re 12 months different.

“If you look at their brain and you look at their body, they’re completely brand new to where we are right now.”