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UVa is obviously going to be familiar with their opponent coming into the Championship Series this week. What's even better news is that the gameplan that the Virginia pitching staff had going into last year nearly (should have) worked.
Last season, the UVa staff was able to hold the Commodores to just a .191 (18-94) batting average in the three games. Unfortunately, too many walks and a key home run for Vanderbilt ultimately did the Hoos in.
If they can replicate that batting average again this week, and limit the to less than the 5 per game they averaged in 2014, the Hoos might just come out on top.
But enough about last year. This season the Commodores have one of the more potent offenses in the country. It will not have the firepower and talent that Cavalier fans saw this past weekend in the Florida lineup, but it has some names of its own.
As a team the Commodores are batting .292 over their 69 games. Their slugging .462 and have an on base percentage of .382. The good news for opponents (and UVa) is that the Commodores appear to be a free swinging bunch. Vanderbilt has struck out 593 times, while only walking 291 times. That averages out to just over 8.5 strike outs per game!
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, they are lead by three of the best bats in college baseball, including the #1 overall pick in this year's MLB Draft, Dansby Swanson. Swanson lead the Commodores with a .337 average and a .633 slugging percentage, while being tied for the lead in HRs with 15. Following right behind Swanson are Rhett Wiseman and Zander Wiel. Wiseman features a .319 average and .573 slugging percentage, while Wiel has a .317 average and .577 slugging. Both Wiseman and Wiel are tied with Swanson with 15 HRs. Limiting these three will be key to UVa's gameplan.
However, Omaha has not been too kind to Swanson and the Commodores. The top pick is 1-13 in the College World Series, and the team is only batting .234 in their three games. If it was not for a key HR in their opening game against Cal State Fullerton and another against TCU, Vanderbilt might not even be in this situation. And where have the Commodores gotten their offense from? Wiseman and Wiel have combined to bat .333 with 4 RBI, 5 R, and 2 HRs (1 each).
The strike out problem appears to have been highlighted by TCU and Fullerton in the previous three games as well. The Commodores have struck out 35 times(!), while only walking 5 times.
Obviously the UVa pitching staff is pretty tired given the workload they had against Florida, but if they can execute against the Vanderbilt offense, the Hoos might just end the season with a trophy in their hand.