VETTEL: 1-On-1 With Jeff Corsaletti

When Jeff Corsaletti's season ended a year ago, he had a decision to make. The outfielder from Port Charlotte, Florida could return for his senior season as a Gator or take a modest paycheck from the Cleveland Indians who picked him in the 22nd round of the baseball draft. "Corso" had enjoyed a solid, though unspectacular junior season, batting .323 with five homers and 43 RBI. There was room for improvement but seniors normally don't see their draft status upgraded significantly.

Still, Jeff Corsaletti yearned for something special and with some prompting from teammate Ben Harrison he decided enjoying his senior year as a Gator was the thing to do. Winning the SEC Title, earning a trip to the College World Series and gaining a higher draft position were his goals. Any one of the three would have made his decision to stay a good one.

But Jeff Corsaletti hit the trifecta. His stats improved dramatically, hitting .371 with ten homers and 51 RBI. The Gators won the SEC Title and they're heading for Omaha. And Jeff Corsaletti's storybook senior season still has room for a very happy ending. I spoke with him Tuesday before the Gators left for the College World Series.

LV: Jeff, what are your thoughts and emotions as you get set to play in the College World Series

JC: Oh it's very exciting as you can imagine. It's finally sunk in a little bit now that we're loading the bus tomorrow (Wednesday) and heading over there so we're really excited. Usually at this time of year we're watching games on our couches and getting ready to go play summer ball somewhere. So being one of the eight teams with a chance to play for a national title is really exciting especially since this school has never won a national title. We feel like out chances are really good going out there.

LV: How unique is it to think about the fact that you made a decision to come back for your senior year and the entire year has basically been a blueprint of how you would have scripted it is you could have?

JC: You couldn't ask for anything more. I mean you really couldn't. Winning the SEC Title, earning a trip to Omaha by playing in front of those great crowds the last two weeks has been unbelievable. To have a chance to go play for a national title is more than I could have imagined and I'm just grateful for everything. I think a big part of our success has been how we're hitting on all cylinders; it's not just one or two guys and our starting pitching has been doing really well. If we keep playing our game and don't give away at-bats I think we'll be allright.

LV: What are your thoughts on playing Tennessee? Is it a bit of a bummer since you're playing someone in the SEC?

JC: You'd like to go there and play someone you've never seen before. They have the scouting report on us and we have it on them. We've seen Hochevar pitch before so there's nothing new. For us to be successful we have to have quality at bats against him. The last time against him I thought we were pretty successful (8 innings, three runs) against him we were just a little bit too discouraged (trailed the whole time in an 11-5 loss). So this time around guys will have a better idea of what he's gonna do and how he's gonna throw.

LV: Will you guys be more relaxed at the plate because the Gator pitching is so much better than it was the last time you faced Tennessee so you shouldn't be behind from the get-go?

JC: I don't know about that, emotions are gonna be running wild, especially with us playing the first game of the series. I'm the first person he's going to face and I'm sure it's going to be crazy. I'll probably be a little bit nervous, but I just gotta take that deep breath, get in the box and do your job. I'm sure the first time through he'll be pretty dominant but we just have to settle down and we'll be all right.

LV: What will the first inning be like?

JC: I'm definitely glad I'm the first guy up and if we were the visiting team it would be even more crazy being up there for the first pitch of the College World Series but we're the home team so I'll be out in the field. I'm not sure who's starting for us, but hopefully he'll go out there throwing strikes and get the job done. For us to be successful our starting pitchers have to keep going deep into games.

Also, Jeff talked about his thoughts on his pro career right around the corner when he'll sign with his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.

JC: I'm excited, I talked with my advisor a little bit but we haven't talked much about it. He just wants me to focus on the task at hand so I'm not really worried about that until we're done playing. I went through it last year with the negotiations and everything and trust me, that stuff can wait. I'm just going to have fun playing college baseball because this is what it's all about. Hopefully we can stay out there awhile.

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In the same week that Matt Walsh abandons his senior year to try and catch on in the NBA, it's refreshing to see a guy who stayed enjoy the payoff that Jeff Corsaletti is experiencing. Jeff won't make anyone's list of the greatest Gators of all-time, but he does have a pretty impressive list of accomplishments as he reaches the conclusion of his Gator career. Corsaletti had four .300 seasons as a hitter. And he has been able to crack the Gators all-time UF top ten in runs (175, 8th) hits (268, 3rd) doubles (53, 3rd) and RBI (157, 5th).

And he'd trade it all for five wins in Nebraska the next two weeks.

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