The School: The Knoxville Beauty School and Tire Shop, sometimes incorrectly referred to as the University of Tennessee
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee. Most famous for hosting the 1982 World’s Fair, for which the city constructed the infamous Sunsphere.
The Mascot: A coontick hound who deserves a better fate than being surrounded by these people:
Record: 50-16, 20-10 in the SEC. Somehow, this is correct.
How’d they get here? Needed a walk-off grand slam to beat freakin’ Wright State in the first game of the Knoxville Regional. Since then, they’ve cruised, never really being threatened in back-to-back wins over Liberty to finish off the regional, then ending Paul Mainieri’s career by a combined 19-8 score in the supers.
Best win: Run-ruled fellow CWS participant Mississippi State in their second game of the SEC Tournament.
Most embarrassing loss: That would be a 4-1 loss to Lipscomb on April 27.
Most terrifying batter: While the Vols feature five hitters with 10 or more homers this season, they’re all guys who hit for a relatively low average and typically aren’t doing much if they aren’t leaving the park. Instead, the answer here is junior Jake Rucker, with a .331 average and just enough power (9 homers) to keep you honest.
Overall, though, this isn’t really a terrifying lineup, at least not when you’re facing them in TD Ameritrade. This is the kind of lineup that historically has become somewhat punchless when confronted with the deep power alleys in Omaha that turn home runs into flyouts to the warning track.
Most terrifying pitcher: Chad Dallas leads the Vols in innings pitched (96.2), strikeouts (118), and hit batsmen (8.) In the absence of any truly terrifying pitchers, I’ll go with the guy who leads the team in strikeouts and hit batsmen. That said, Dallas did shut down LSU in the super regionals, striking out 12 and walking none in six innings. While the Vols’ hitters might look worse in Omaha, their pitching will probably look better.
Best NCAA Tournament result: They’ve made it to Omaha four times, with a runner-up finish in 1951, and three CWS appearances between 1995 and 2005.
They have not won the College World Series and Vanderbilt has.
Should Vanderbilt be scared? I am contractually obligated to say no.