Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU Hopes for Better A-10 Tourney; Last Year's Sudden Departure Serves as Incentive for 2013 Team

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU Hopes for Better A-10 Tourney; Last Year's Sudden Departure Serves as Incentive for 2013 Team

Article excerpt

The reasons for last season's sudden and sad ending are unclear, but St. Louis University baseball coach Darin Hendrickson has a theory.

The Billikens were given a bye week in the Atlantic 10 on the final weekend of the 2012 season, leaving them with nonconference games as their final tuneup for the conference tournament.

They were eliminated with two losses in three games and the best season in school history had ended with an empty feeling.

"I've used that as incentive all year," Hendrickson said. "We felt we had the best team all year and came out flat. We had (the league title) clinched and we lost our edge a little. This year we had to play down to the last out, the last inning to win the league so I think there's a little difference there because the guys had to stay on the gas."

SLU (36-18) will open the A-10 tourney today against Xavier at 9 a.m. (St. Louis time) in Charlotte, N.C.

The Billikens won their second consecutive championship by coming out on top in a three-team tiebreaker. By beating Charlotte 2-1 in the regular-season finale, the Billikens edged out the 49ers and Rhode Island.

The Billikens have a well-balanced team paced by an offense that led the A-10 in hitting (.295), slugging (.412), on-base percentage (.380), runs (331) and home runs (35).

Sophomore surprise Mike Vigliarolo has led the charge with a breakout season that led to him being named the league co-player of the year. The first baseman is hitting .335 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 38 RBIs.

"Mike has exceeded expectations from when we first saw him," Hendrickson said. "He's a really gifted hitter. He covers a lot of the plate and swings at pitches guys don't normally square up and hit hard. He's been rewarded with a lot of clutch hits."

Vigliarolo is one component that has allowed Hendrickson to continue the upswing at SLU. The Billikens have five consecutive winning seasons after finishing above . …

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