My Ten Favorite Photos From the 2016 NCAA Baseball Nashville Regional
This year I covered a NCAA Regional for the second straight year. Last year I covered Notre Dame and Ohio University. This year it was Washington and Xavier. This is my second time in a couple of months covering a tournament game for Washington. I covered the NCAA Final Four game for their women in Indy. I had such a great experience in Terre Haute covering the MVC Tournament the week before I did not think that this tournament could top that. That was a great week with some great people all around. I still had a blast in Nashville. The storms made things a little crazy over the four days, but the baseball was still great. The tournament started with a great extra inning game with a walk off home run. It ended with UCSB winning in the early game on Monday. Of course now we know that UCSB would go to Louisville and keep winning to advance to Louisville. When the tournament pairings were announced who would have thought that would happen? Here are ten photos that I liked from the NCAA Baseball Nashville Regional.
10. Rain was the story of the first two days of the tournament. It seemed like I was soaked most of those days. I thought that this picture conveyed that pretty well. Most people curse the rain when it starts falling down. I actually enjoy it as long as it does not interfere with the game. Here it was a nice way to get rid of the southern heat for a few minutes. It would later wash out game two of the day though pushing everything back.
9. Early in the first game there was a controversial play at second base involving the son of former White Sox player Tony Graffanino. His son AJ Graffanino was trying to turn a double play when he was slid into hard by the UCSB player. It was one of two calls that game that saved a run, and sent the game into extra innings. This was a big first play to capture, and I had it which made the rest of the tournament go a little smoother. You always need that first big play to settle down a bit.
8. Sometimes I go for broke on a play. Instead of switching to the 70-200mm lens I stayed with my 400mm lens as the Xavier player ran by me here. I had to be perfect to get him in my shot, and luckily I was. I liked the gesture of the player here as well as the sweat which told the story of how hot it was in Nashville when it wasn’t raining that weekend.
7. As Washington was making an amazing comeback against Vanderbilt to stay alive in the tournament they had some great moments for me to photograph. This was my favorite of those. After a home run in the bottom of the 8th gave Washington the lead they let all of the emotion out of the bag. This was a great moment
6. The major story of the tournament had nothing to do with the play on the field. It had everything to do with the death of Vanderbilt freshman Donnie Everett. He died the day before the tournament started, and the eyes of the college baseball world was on the Vanderbilt Commodores to see how they would respond. Before they took the field for their first game of the tournament I made this photo of one of the players in the dugout with Donnie’s jersey above him. In the end I think the loss was too much for the team to overcome. They lost their first two games, but went down fighting. I could not imagine being the age of the players and playing through a friend and teammates death. The emotion must have been staggering.
5. During the second day of the tournament I found a new shooting location. A little box next to the dugout and near the on deck circle allowed me to get right into the action. I made a lot of photos from the boxes on both sides of the field. Here as Xavier was gaining momentum against Xavier it allowed me to get right into the celebration with the team and make a dynamic photo. This is why I love shooting tournament baseball.
4. As the sun set during one of the games I was ready with my 17-40mm lens on the Canon 5D Mark III. I wanted one good shot of the sun setting over the stadium. I was hoping for a little more color, but with storm clouds you take what you get. Here I still was able to make an interesting photo with the color that we did get.
3. Just before the final game of the tournament I knew it could be my last game. If Xavier lost my tournament was over. I wanted one good huddle photo with the monster green wall in left field as my background. Shortly after the tournament was over the wall was taken down. It was another one of the features that make this ballpark unique. I liked the way that this last huddle shot turned out.
2. During the last game of the tournament I already had made many images over the course of the last few days. I was looking to spice things up a bit. I already had coverage of the Xavier pitcher, but as the sun went behind the football stadium a nice shadow came over the third base side of the field. I liked the idea of the dark background so I made my way back over to the first base camera well to make this shot. It is my favorite action shot of the tournament.
1. This will be an interesting photo for me over time. Right now I really like the photo. I like it enough to put it at the top of this list. I made this just before the Xavier game against Washington started. The light was great, and the amber light from the dugout put a nice warm light on the player. It was going to be a decent shot, and then the player looked over at me. It was a moment that the fans could not see, but I really liked. It is not a shot a normally make, and maybe that is why I like it so much.