(Part 4 of an 8-part series previewing the College World Series)
Advancing to the College World Series for the second time in four years, the Vanderbilt Commodores (46-19) square off against Louisville on Saturday at 7 p.m. at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
Vanderbilt made its only previous CWS appearance in 2011, splitting four games.
Hosting both the Regional and Super Regional, the Commodores beat Xavier 11-0 and Oregon 7-2 and 3-2 in the Nashville Regional. In Super Regional play vs. Stanford, Vandy won Game 1 (11-6), lost Game 2 (5-4) and took Game 3 (12-5).
Vanderbilt has a team batting average of .283 to go with a staff ERA of 2.75.
First-team freshman All-American left fielder Bryan Reynolds (.343, 4 HRs, 52 RBI, .494 slugging percentage) and sophomore second baseman Dansby Swanson (.335-3-32) make the Commodores go offensively. Reynolds went 8-for-12 vs. Stanford in the Super Regional. Swanson leads the team with a .414 on base clip, 58 runs scored and 18 stolen bases in 23 tries.
Rounding out the Commodores' starting position players are junior shortstop Vince Conde (.303-4-47), junior center fielder John Norwood (.285-2-26), sophomore third baseman Xavier Turner (.283-2-37), sophomore right fielder Rhett Wiseman (.278, 28 RBI) sophomore first baseman Zander Wiel (.274-5-41), freshman catcher Jason Delay (.272, 13 RBI) and freshman catcher/designated hitter Karl Ellison (.237, 9 RBI).
Other than Delay and Ellison, every Vandy starter has reached doubles figures in stolen bases.
Among CWS participants, junior righthander Tyler Beede (8-7, 3.58) was the first player selected in last week's Major League draft as the No. 14 overall pick by the San Francisco Giants. All five of Vandy's draftees were picked in the first 15 rounds.
Sophomore righthanders Walker Buehler (11-2, 2.39) and Tyler Ferguson (8-3, 2.51) join Beede in the starting rotation.
Sophomore righthander Carson Fulmer (6-1, 1.78, 10 saves) has been effective in the dual roles of starter and reliever. In 23 appearances (seven starts) he has held foes to a .186 batting average without allowing a home run in 76 innings.
Junior righty Brian Miller (1-1, 1.82, 5 saves) gives coach Tim Corbin another late-inning option out of the bullpen.