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Week Two Series Preview: vs. The Georgia State Sex Panthers

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I am in a glass case of emotion.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park closed after recent mountain lion sightings Photo by Mindy Schauer/DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Vanderbilt enters week two not only undefeated, but never having trailed for even one pitch. With our frighteningly good cadre of arms, we look to continue that streak as we welcome the Georgia State Sex Panthers to The Hawk.

Week Two (2/26-2/28): vs. Georgia State

*Note: This is a 4 game series, as Saturday is a double header.

2020 Record: 9-7. No one can convince me that the Georgia State University Sex Panthers went 9-7 for any other reason than to be able to say, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.“ No one.

If you look at their schedule a bit closer, you’ll discover that not only was it made by Odeon, but, well, they didn’t really play anyone. Sure, they opened strong, sweeping Cincinnati 9-8, St. Johns 7-5, and St. Peter’s 9-7 (no, I don’t know who they are, either, but I’m pretty sure their mascot is an angry peacock), but then went 6-7 against the likes of Gardner-Webb, Bryant, Western Carolina (go Kanamits!), ETSU, North Alabama, Mercer, and UNC Asheville.

In short, all we know about Georgia State is they’re made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.

2021 Record: 2-3. The Sex Panthers split a 4 game home series with the West Virginia Hill People, and lost a mid-week game against Georgia (why Georgia is traveling for an early season mid-week game against an in state opponent is a story for a different day, but it sure is a puzzler). The Sex Panthers’ bats will provide the best test for our All-World arms in our OOC schedule, as they’ve averaged 6.8 runs per game, buoyed mostly by a 20-4 thumping of the Hill People on the second game of Saturday’s double-header which caused their coach, Lothar to call the following team meeting:

Player to Watch: #18 Sr. C/LF/DH Elian “Gonzalez” Merejo.

Like many “players to watch” this year, Merejo is a 5th year senior who chose to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility. From his roster page:

Named Sun Belt Conference Breakout Player of the Year by D1 Baseball ... The Panthers’ top hitter who hit third in the batting order while starting all 16 games in left field or at DH ... Led the team with a .407 batting average, five homers and six doubles, along with 13 RBI ... Ranked in the Top 5 in the Sun Belt in average (4th), homers (4th), slugging (.763/2nd) and on-base percentage (.527/3rd) and walks (15/2nd) ... Walked 15 times, including five intentional walks ... Second on the team with 18 runs scored.

Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Player: #14 Fr. SS Will “Not Casey” Mize.

Not Casey has slashed .444/.524/.722 with 2 2B and a HR in the first 5 games of 2021. Of course, most of that came from his 6-7 performance in Saturday’s double header, including his 3-3 game in the aforementioned 20-4 beatdown of the Hill People, in which he went yard, hit a 2B, and knocked in 3. He’s 0-6 in his last two, so do with this information what you will.

Confidence Level: High.

On the Mound for the Dores (According to Corbs):

With snow and ice impacting our opening series against the Wright State Freds, forcing us to postpone the entire weekend and go with a Monday double-header, just who will start when is in flux. Here’s what Corbs had to say to Chad Bishop on Vucommodores.com:

“(Sophomore Thomas) Schultz will pitch Friday and then it’s how do guys feel (Thursday)? We just don’t want to push the buttons too quick,” Corbin said. “I would imagine both Kumar (Rocker) and Jack (Leiter) could pitch Sunday which would help them in coming back the next week – but we just kind of want to see how they feel.

“The next question is what do you want to do Saturday? We still don’t have a clean answer on that. I think a lot of it will be contingent upon (Thursday) and then how Schultz gets through (Friday) because if he gets through (Friday) then it opens up potentially one of those bridge guys or piggy-back guys that might have an opportunity to start Saturday.”

In other words, it’s Schultz and then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

My two cents: Expect a lot of pitchers to see action for a few innings at a time. Do not expect anyone, especially Rocker and Leiter, to be out there for more than 4-5 IP. We’re in this for the long haul, have to stretch out their arms, and have a roster of pitchers more loaded than the 2019 Ramajama Nittany Tide Wide Receiver Group (according to my extremely scientific poll on the Twatters).

See you in the comments.