The School: St. John’s University
Location: Queens, which has Staten Island to thank for avoiding the title of “Lamest New York City borough”
The Mascot: The Red Storm. Originally known as the Redmen, that was changed in the 1990s when somebody noticed that this was sort of offensive:
Anyway, now this is their mascot:
But, their mascot should really be Lou Carnesecca.
Record: 39-15, 15-3 in the Big East.
How they got here: Big East regular season and tournament champs -- in spite of losing to Seton Hall 19-2 in the first game on Sunday. They just wiped the vomit off themselves, came back, and won 7-0 in the second game.
Best win: They beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill by a 5-2 score back on February 21, but that comes with the midweek game caveats. They also won 11-5 at Minnesota on March 29, which was a Friday night.
And in terms of sheer hilarity, they beat Xavier by a 34-7 score on April 28. No, that’s not a football score.
Most embarrassing loss: Did we mention that Seton Hall beat them 19-2 on Sunday?
Most terrifying batter: Leadoff hitter John Valente has a .356 batting average and has struck out 11 times in 222 at bats this season. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power — 65 of his 79 hits this season were singles — but there’s something terrifying about a batter who doesn’t get himself out.
Which should tell you something about St. John’s lineup; the Red Storm alternate between “decent slap hitter with zilch power” and “power hitter who strikes out a ton.” Catcher Wyatt Mascarella is the archetype of the latter: 18 of his 49 hits this season have gone for extra bases; he’s also struck out 49 times in 147 at bats.
Best pitcher: We remember Sean Mooney from last year. This year, as a sophomore, he’s 11-2 with a 2.52 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 89.1 innings; opponents are hitting just .209 against him. Of course, Kansas tagged him for six runs in 4.2 innings back on March 9, which lends credence to the idea that he’s mostly feasting on weak competition.
Best NCAA Tournament result: Believe it or not, St. John’s has made it to the College World Series six times, though their most recent appearance was 1980. They made the semifinals in both 1966 and 1968. Since 1980, they’ve made the tournament seventeen times but only advanced out of the regional once. That was in 2012, when they won the Chapel Hill Regional before falling to Arizona in the super regional.
Should Vanderbilt be worried? Yeah, I’d worry a little bit -- Vanderbilt will almost certainly see Mooney on Friday, and facing a mediocre team with an ace can be tricky. What’s more, St. John’s is kind of similar to the midweek opponents Vanderbilt has struggled with this season.