May 18, 2013
Vanderbilt set an SEC record with its 26th conference win Saturday, but don't expect there to be a lengthy internal celebration for accomplishing the historic feat. For the Commodores, it is just another step in a journey that now transitions into postseason play next week at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Although Vanderbilt's next game is just a few short days away (4:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday) and the team's attention is already shifting to the postseason, what the 2013 team has already done is worth pausing a moment to reflect on.
On Thursday, Vanderbilt tied the all-time league mark with its 25th win, matching the total wins by South Carolina in 2000. And after a 5-4 loss in 10 innings Friday, Vanderbilt took sole possession of the record with Saturday's 14-10 win over Alabama.
"You don't start out a season thinking that is going to happen," Head Coach Tim Corbin said, "but at the same time, it is just a mix of continuous practices and attitudes and just consistency. I'm just proud of them. They will enjoy it for the next 24 hours or so and may be something they can talk about years for now.
"It is quite a feat and you sit back and look at it and it just means playing a lot of good baseball on the road and finishing up series when it is so difficult to do so in a conference that is very difficult to play in. That's the kids and that's the staff and I'm proud of them all."
The SEC has been playing baseball for 80 seasons, but it wasn't until 1993 that the league moved to a 30-game conference schedule. Since that time, only three teams have won 24-plus games, and until Saturday no team had won 26 games. Vanderbilt's 26 wins actually came in 29 games after having its series finale rained out at South Carolina a few weeks back. Saturday could very well have been the 27th win for the Commodores.
In addition to holding the all-time wins record, Vanderbilt also has the highest conference winning percentage of any team since 1964 when Ole Miss finished the year 11-1, winning 91.7 percent of its games. Vanderbilt won 89.7 percent of its conference games in 2013. South Carolina's 83.3 percent winning percentage in 2000 was the highest under the 30-game schedule.
In the history of the SEC, Vanderbilt's conference winning percentage is the eighth-best of all-time, and ranks behind teams that played no more than 17 games.
"I won't be able to put it into proper perspective until the season is over with, which I hope is a long time from now," Corbin added. "It is a tough one to balance because emotionally you want to be able to celebrate it for a moment, but at the same time we have a lot of baseball ahead of us and things that are far reaching besides this, but the body of work stands alone and it is something that they will always have with them. It will be a tough one to break, that is for sure."
Adding more perspective to the absurdity of Vanderbilt's SEC record is the fact that LSU finished the season with a 23-7 league mark. The 23 wins are the fourth most in SEC history, but yet the Tigers were already out of the SEC title race with one series to go after Vanderbilt swept Kentucky last weekend.
In addition to setting the conference record for wins, Vanderbilt also won all 14 of its series this season and also set a regular season school record with 48 wins.
The school record for regular season wins, the SEC title and league record for wins are things the 2013 team will always be remembered for, but the Commodores are hopeful they are just the beginning of many more accomplishments to come this season.
"It was a goal, and (especially after we won the SEC) it was one of those things that we thought how cool it would be if we could do it," senior outfielder Connor Harrell said. "And now that we have done it, it is special and it means a lot to us, it means a lot to me. Moving forward, we have a lot more goals to accomplish."