When Sowers enrolled in his first class at Vanderbilt that August, he was tacitly agreeing to postpone an inevitable major league career for at least three years. For Vanderbilt baseball fans, it was reason to rejoice.
On Friday night Sowers, no longer a callow freshman but a been-through-the-SEC-wars junior, will take the mound for what will likely be the last time at Charles Hawkins Field. Appropriately, he will face the University of Kentucky (his home state university) in the opener of a crucial, three-game, regular-season-ending homestand.
It's no secret that Sowers plans to give up his final year of eligibility and throw his name into the 2004 Major League draft. Experts think this time around he could go even higher than No. 20 overall, and one website suggests he'll be the first lefty taken.
By mid-summer, Sowers will likely be traveling with a minor-league team somewhere in the USA. "The Show" can't be too far off.
"Jeremy will succeed because of the high standards he sets for himself, both athletically and academically," says Coach Tim Corbin. "He has an incredibly strong mental makeup that goes along with his strong physical skills."
Forgive Vanderbilt fans if they get a little sappy and sentimental Friday, because hurlers like Sowers simply don't come around too often. Friday-evening visitors to Hawkins Field may have become a bit spoiled, being privileged to watch him work his weekly magic.
Don't expect the always-composed Sowers to get sappy, however-- for him and his Vanderbilt teammates, much more is at stake. The Commodores (36-16, 13-14 SEC) must win at least one game this weekend to cement their spot in next week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. With 36 wins in the bag, they're also positioning themselves for a much-anticipated trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Sowers (7-5) has accumulated 89 strikeouts this season in 94 innings pitched, with an ERA of 3.14.
Kentucky comes to town 24-27, 7-20 in the SEC. Vanderbilt is 25-5 in home games this season. Vandy faces the Wildcats Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Last week at LSU, Sowers moved into second-place on the school's all-time career strikeout list with 290. To catch the leader, Mike Willis (350), he would likely have to stay around another season… or have an extended run in this year's postseason.