We went 2-2 last week, starting with a close midweek 1-0 win at Middle Tennessee State. T.J. Pecoraro had another strong start for us, and we were able to scratch across a run for him. We then traveled to Columbia for our series with South Carolina, where they won two of the three games. USC is a very good baseball team, and is even better playing at home behind about 10,000 fans each night. We were on the wrong end of a 3-1 pitcher’s duel Friday night, won 6-4 Saturday night thanks to Tony Kemp’s 5-for-5 hitting performance and lost 5-3 on Sunday. Jason Esposito hit three home runs this weekend to push his total to five on the year. We ended the first half of the SEC schedule 11-4 in the conference, one game behind South Carolina for the SEC East lead.
When people talk about Vanderbilt baseball, they usually speak about the game results, players or coaches. There are others who play a large part in our success, but are seldom heard about, specifically our athletic trainers—Chris Ham and Katie Davis—and our strength coach, Gabe Teeple. This is “Hammer’s” fourth season with us at Vandy, where he came after spending time at Belmont University. We are very fortunate to have an athletic trainer who is so baseball-oriented. He is a former collegiate catcher, so he knows the game of baseball inside and out. I would also put out a challenge to all other trainers to see if anyone can hit a better fungo than Hammer does. Anytime we have soreness or an injury, we all know that Ham will find a way to get us back on the field as quickly as possible. He’s kind of like Inspector Gadget with all the tools he has in the training room. Last but not least, he makes the best Gatorade mix in the SEC, and I have been told multiple times by opponents that they love playing at Vandy “because of how good the Gatorade is.”
This is Katie’s first year assisting Ham and the team. Her husband, Lars Davis, is a catcher for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, so she understands the game very well too. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, and graduate degree from the University of South Florida. Also, from riding on her bus to Columbia and back, I now know that she eats a ton of candy, which is obviously admirable for anyone.
Coach Teeple, like Hammer, has also been with us for four years. He handles our pre-game stretching, agilities and weight lifting sessions. He also is the architect of our 6 a.m. workouts in the fall, which make playing in 100+ degree temperatures seem like child’s play. Coach Teeple always ensures that we get the most out of our lifts, and goes by the idea “If you’re going to do it, then do it right!” He has also made us all firm believers in hurdle warm-ups and Kettlebell lifts. There is no better way to start batting practice everyday than after hearing Coach Teeple break down our huddle. If it doesn’t get us ready to play a game, nothing will.
We don’t have a midweek game this week, so our next game action will be this weekend when LSU comes to Nashville. Last week we played the defending national champions, and this week we host the 2009 national champions. The competition and great games never let up in the SEC.
Until next week—Go ’Dores