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SERIES CAPSULE: FAU @ #6 Vanderbilt - February 16th - 18th, 2024

What: FAU (0-0) vs. #6 Vanderbilt (0-0)

When: Fri, Feb. 16th @ 2:00 PM
           Sat, Feb. 17th @ 3:00 PM
           Sun, Feb. 18th @ 3:00 PM

Where: Hawkins Field

Video: SECN+

Live Stats: Here

Vanderbilt Team Site: Here

Series: First matchup

Projected Starting Pitchers:

VAN - RHP Greysen Carter (2-1, 4.08 ERA last season)
FAU - RHP CJ Williams (2-1, 3.47 ERA)

VAN - RHP Bryce Cunningham (2-3, 6.43 ERA)
FAU - LHP Trey Beard (NCAA Debut)

VAN - RHP Devin Futrell (8-3, 3.44 ERA)
FAU - RHP Tyler Murphy (1-0, 5.50 ERA)

Owl Notables

Head coach John McCormack (512-322-2) enters his 16th year as the Owls' skipper, as the team looks to build on their 34 wins and fourth place finish in Conference USA last season by making a strong first impression in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. The AAC's coaches poll projects them to finish fourth behind defending champion East Carolina and former CUSA foes Charlotte and UTSA this year.

A new season graces a unique starting lineup with only Spencer Rich (pictured below via Rick Henderson) and Jalen DeBose being the returning starters. They display incredible speed when they get on base, combining for 17 stolen bases whenever they find the opportunity. Rich enters the campaign after hitting a decent .327 for 26 RBI and five homers the year prior.

John Schroeder is a player worth keeping an eye on. Taking over the starting spot at catcher following Caleb Pendleton's departure, he had a batting average of .293 for 39 RBI and seven home runs. With the improvements he made since the end of last season, having him get off to a strong start against Vanderbilt will be needed for FAU.

Out goes starters Hunter Cooley and Jacob Josey from the bullpen, in comes CJ Williams, Trey Beard, and Tyler Murphy to represent the group as the main pitchers for the weekend. Williams made seven starts in 25 games last season, finishing with a 2-1 record, a 3.47 ERA, and 57 K in 59.2 IP. Murphy impressed many on his way to garnering CUSA All-Freshman honors, pitching a 5.50 ERA for 39 K in 34.1 IP as he and Williams will be relied on to have strong performances on the mound.

Beard appearing as a starting pitcher is the most interesting selection from head coach John McCormack. He has his reasons for doing so, and Beard has the numbers to back it up. Remarkable stats actually, with the freshman pitching a 0.32 ERA and 111 K in 66.2 IP during his senior year at Dunedin High School. His elite skillset in not giving up runs and striking out opposing batters will be put to the test against the nationally-ranked Commodores.

The Owls will return home to Boca Raton to host their first series of the season against Towson starting February 16th. The three-game set will be broadcast on FAU TV.

The starters (in non-batting order) for game one should be that of the below:

RF Jalen DeBose
CF Spencer Rich
LF Jake Millan
1B Mike La Rocca
2B Christian Adams
3B Patrick Ward
DH Emilio Gonzalez
SS Brando Leroux
C John Schroeder
P CJ Williams

Commodore Notables

Vanderbilt is a strong but excellent opponent for FAU to begin their season against.

The Commodores are coming off a remarkable 2023 campaign where they finished with a 42-20 record, including an SEC Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Regionals. The SEC's coaches poll expects them to finish third out of seven teams in the Eastern Division.

Their strong performances have garnered them votes from multiple outlets which have them in the top 10, placing the Commodores from 7th to as high as 6th.

  • Baseball America 7
  • NCBWA 7
  • Coaches Poll 6
  • D1 Baseball 6
  • Perfect Game 6

To maintain with what their sports information department is showcasing, we're putting Vanderbilt at #6 which is where D1 Baseball currently has them to begin the season.

Vanderbilt returns a talented bullpen that stars the likes of Devin Futrell, who was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-America second team. He also earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2023 and was also named to the ABCA/Rawlings Southeast All-Region second team, coming off a season where he led the pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a 3.44 ERA.

Futrell even ranked third in the SEC in 2023 in both ERA and walks allowed per nine innings (2.15). His 1.09 WHIP was fourth in the league and his strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.60) ranked 10th. FAU must time their swings with excellent precision when Futrell's on the mound for Vanderbilt.

They also get back pitcher Carter Holton and shortstop Jonathan Vastine, who were named to the 2024 Preseason All-SEC second team. Holton owned a 4-1 record over 11 starts last season before battling an injury down the stretch as he also got named to the 2024 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List for the second consecutive season, while Vastine hit .287 in 62 starts last season as the team's leader in doubles with 18.

After this series, the Commodores will stay home as they host a one-off against Dayton on February 20th at 5:30 PM EST. The game will be broadcast on SECN+.

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