Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honors, Southeastern Conference Tournament and regular-season championships, and a fistful of All-American selections showcased 2007 as the best year for Vanderbilt baseball in the history of the program.
The Commodores spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. During their run the team logged a 20-8 conference record and claimed Vanderbilt’s first-ever SEC regular- season championship with a 4-1 victory over Louisiana State University at Hawkins Field before a crowd of 2,685 fans.The Commodores’ next challenge was the SEC Tournament, where they became the first team in conference history to come back from a firstround loss (4-6 to Tennessee) and win five straight to claim the crown. It was the first time an SEC team won both the regular season and tournament titles since Alabama in 1996.
“It takes a special team makeup to do what we did, to be the first team in SEC history to come back like that,”Coach Tim Corbin said of their tournament trek.
The NCAA rewarded Vanderbilt’s seasonlong performance by naming the Commodores the No. 1 national seed in the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament and host of a regional first round. Hawkins Field, which seated approximately 2,000 fans in its most recent incarnation, expanded seating capacity by adding 1,500 bleacher seats and offering 200 standing-room-only tickets in the patio area in left field.All seats were sold within 36 hours.
Fans witnessed a remarkable series of games that also featured Austin Peay State University, the University ofMemphis, and the University ofMichigan.The Michigan Wolverines survived the remainder of the field and won the regional in a 4-3, 10-inning nail-biter over the Commodores.
“From a coaching standpoint, I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun in my whole life,” Corbin said of this year’s Commodores.”They’re low maintenance.There’s not one selfish kid in the bunch. They’re unbelievable, and trust me when I say this: I’ve never seen a team like this, and I think that’s why we’ve been successful.”
The postseason brought accolades and opportunities to a number of Commodores. David Price, a junior left-handed pitcher, garnered the lion’s share of honors.He was drafted No. 1 overall in the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and signed for a reported $11.25 million, six-year contract. Price was named Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Baseball America, CSTV and Collegiate Baseball. He also was named SEC Male Athlete of the Year and SEC Pitcher of the Year, and won the Dick Howser Trophy, Golden Spikes Award, Brooks Wallace Award and Roger Clemens Award. Joining Price on various All-American lists were sophomore Pedro Alvarez, junior Dominic de la Osa, sophomore Ryan Flaherty, senior pitcher Casey Weathers, and freshman pitcher Mike Minor.
Major League Baseball also drafted the following Commodores: Casey Weathers, Colorado; Dominic de la Osa, Detroit; Cody Crowell, BS’07, Toronto; Ty Davis, BS’07,Arizona; Tyler Rhoden, BS’07, Cincinnati; Jonathan White, Milwaukee; Stephen Shao, Colorado; Kellen St.Luce, Florida; Sean Bierman, Cincinnati; and Joey Manning, Philadelphia.
Coach Corbin was named SEC Coach of the Year,College Baseball Insider Co-Coach of the Year, and Vanderbilt Coach of the Year. The Commodores finished the season with a school-record 54 wins and 13 losses.