The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Operation Omaha: Previewing Vanderbilt Baseball’s 2023 schedule

The Hustler examines the gauntlet the VandyBoys will have to run this season to return to the College World Series.
Truman McDaniel
Enrique Bradfield Jr. runs to first base in Vanderbilt’s 4-2 win over UIC. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel).

The excitement among Vanderbilt Baseball fans is palpable as the VandyBoys prepare to take the field for the 2023 season. After a disappointing Regionals exit at the hands of Oregon State last season, there are high expectations for head coach Tim Corbin’s team this year. Ranking No. 10 to start the year, the Commodores will be looking to get back to the College World Series behind second-team preseason All-American and dynamic outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., as well as a slew of experienced bats in the lineup and arms on the mound. 

With all that being said, let’s dissect the mammoth of a schedule before the VandyBoys begin their season against TCU in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 17. 

Notable non-conference games

In the first few weeks of the season, Corbin’s crew will be tested. Vanderbilt begins the season with a trio of games at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field against TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas in the College Baseball Showdown. TCU and Oklahoma State are ranked No. 15 and No. 9, respectively, and Texas is a college baseball blueblood. The Cowboys in particular have been a familiar face to the Commodores for the last few seasons ― Vanderbilt won the three-game series in Stillwater in 2021 while the Cowboys took two out of three last year in Nashville. This set of games should give the Vanderbilt faithful a good glimpse into how the season will progress, as the chance that Vanderbilt could face any of these teams again in the summer is likely. 

Following the trip to the Lone Star State, the VandyBoys come home to host No. 17 UCLA in its first traditional three-game series of the season. The Bruins made the Regionals last year despite being in the middle of a rebuild and will be looking to spoil Vanderbilt’s home-opening series on West End. The bats will need to come alive for Vanderbilt, as UCLA’s pitching staff ranked first in the PAC-12 in strikeouts per nine innings, a key part of their success last season. 

In March, Vanderbilt will be making another road trip, this time to U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings. There, the VandyBoys will face three Big 10 teams ― Minnesota, Maryland and Nebraska — in the 2023 Cambria College Classic. The biggest threat in Minneapolis should be No. 13 Maryland, who finished 48-14 last season as a Regional Host. The Terrapins are led by stud shortstop Matt Shaw, who blasted 22 home runs last year in his sophomore season and was this summer’s Cape Cod League MVP. Another thing to watch for is how the Commodores will play in an NFL stadium modified for baseball, a peculiar environment for them. 

Notable conference games

SEC play will start with a tough series at home against reigning College World Series champions Ole Miss in mid-March. Things will then get even more challenging, as the majority of the Commodores games against ranked SEC opponents happen on the road. Less than a week after facing Ole Miss, Vanderbilt is set to go head-to-head with Mississippi State. A rematch of the 2021 College World Series, the Diamond Dawgs will certainly present a challenge to the VandyBoys. 

In late April, Vanderbilt will hope to make up for its humiliating three-game sweep and 10-1 loss against Tennessee in last year’s SEC Tournament when the team heads to Knoxville. Vanerbilt will likely face off against Tennessee’s Friday night starter Chase Dollander, who is a projected top pick in next year’s MLB Draft and a serious challenge to the Commodores’ lineup. Vanderbilt will rely on its plentiful locker room material to help push it past one of the toughest opponents it will face. 

Then, in mid-May, the Commodores head to Gainesville to face the No. 2 Florida Gators. While Vanderbilt was able to squeak out two wins in its series against the Gators last year, Florida seems primed to make a deep run this year behind Wyatt Langford, who crushed 26 home runs with a .355 average last season. He’s a projected top-5 pick in the MLB draft and will likely be competing against LSU’s Dylan Crews and Dollander for first overall. 

Rounding out both the SEC schedule and the regular season games for the year, the Commodores will play a home series against a loaded and highly regarded Arkansas baseball program. Vanderbilt will need a strong showing in the Hawk to cement itself as a Regional Host if all goes according to plan. 

Key takeaways 

Just like last season, 2023 is going to be another Herculean challenge for Vanderbilt. The Commodores will face off against 9 preseason ranked teams, including 5 in the preseason top 10 rankings. The SEC is the best conference in collegiate baseball, with the majority of its teams having a realistic shot at a championship in both Hoover and Omaha. Although it will be an uphill battle, expect great things at Hawkins Field for Corbin and Co.

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About the Contributors
Bowman Talbot
Bowman Talbot, Former Staff Writer
Bowman Talbot ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying political science and history. When not writing for The Hustler, Bowman can be found exploring Nashville, defending 2019 LSU football as the greatest college football team of all time and watching the New Orleans Saints choke in another playoff appearance. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Truman McDaniel
Truman McDaniel, Former Multimedia Sports Specialist
Truman McDaniel (2023) is a student in the College of Arts & Science majoring in Environmental and Ecological Biology and Political Science. In his free time, he enjoys taking pictures, drinking coffee and watching movies. He can be reached at [email protected].    
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Betsy Talbot
1 year ago

Great article!

Bo Talbot
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Talbot

Thanks mom ?