By Travis Young - Vanderbilt’s baseball team will return to Jim Patterson Stadium for the 2009 NCAA Louisville Regional this weekend, a little over a month after the Commodores edged the hometown Cardinals, 4-3 in 10 innings, on April 22.
If you are unfamiliar with Patterson Stadium, it’s one of the most unique fields in all of college baseball. The venue is one of only two NCAA baseball facilities (Washington St. Bailey-Brayton Field) with field turf on the entire field with the exception of the pitchers mound. From the stands it looks like it has dirt in the field but it is actually red field turf. The surface is similar to what David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays play on at Tropicana Field.
Also, beautiful scenery surrounds the park with Papa John’s Stadium behind the outfield wall with an active railroad track in between. One of the nation’s premier sporting landmarks, Churchill Downs sits off to the right behind home plate.
Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin talked about the five-year-old facility -- which measures a respectable 330 feet down the lines, 375 feet to the power alleys and 402 feet to straight away center -- during Monday’s meeting with the press.
“I like the way that park plays because it’s a decent sized field,” Corbin said. “You have to strike a ball to get it over the fence. The turf plays slow and the balls hit on the ground are slow and the ball dies on bunts. The field plays true because it is field turf so you won’t get any bad hops in the grill. When you play on turf you have to be aggressive.
“I like the fact that we have played on it this year because the only other time we have played on that type of surface is when we practice on our football practice field. We have taken a lot of ground balls on that surface in practice when we are unable to practice on our field due to poor weather.
“I would say it’s similar to our home field in terms of size of the outfield. The main difference is the field turf really slows things down. We like playing on bigger fields because that plays to our strengths. Overall though, it is helpful that we have played there. I think our kids are fired up to play there again.”