#3 Virginia Baseball 2015 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 ACC  
#3 Virginia Baseball 2015 Preview
Virginia Team Page


The Virginia Cavaliers had a tremendous 2014 season that brought them right to the brink k of winning the first national championship in program history. The Cavaliers battled Vanderbilt down to the wire and in game three, if not for a John Norwood homerun off of Nick Howard, it would have been an epic celebration of a national championship in Charlottesville. Virginia will have some adversity to overcome with Joe McCarthy being out for 12 weeks with a back injury, but they have enough elite pitching that they will be in the conversation once again for a national championship.

2014: 53-16, 22-8
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Brian O’Connor

Field Players:
The Cavaliers will have some work to do in regard to reloading their lineup this season as it won’t be easy to replace players the caliber of a Mike Papi, Branden Cogswell, and not have Outfielder Joe McCarthy available for 12 weeks due to back surgery. McCarthy, when he gets back in action, has a nice bit of power and he knocked out six homeruns, while driving in 49 and even stole 11 bases last season. Infielder Kenny Towns is back along with Infielder Daniel Pinero and both of these guys won’t destroy you with their power, but they have the ability to get a clutch hit and cause havoc on the bases when the situation dictates.

The combination of Nathan Kirby and Brandon Waddell are a one-two combination that will be among the best in the nation on Friday and Saturday nights all season long. Kirby was 9-3 with a 2.06 earned run average and virtually unhittable at times. Opponents could only muster a .175 batting average last season and struck out 112 times in 113.1 innings. Waddell will be the ultimate left-handed counter attacking punch to Kirby. Waddell, who won 10 games last season, relies more on control and only walked 19 batters in 114.0 innings. The Sunday starting spot will be a battle between Connor Jones and Jack Roberts.

Who to Watch:
Josh Sborz will be taking over the closer role after the loss of Nick Howard and his 20 saves to the MLB Draft. Sborz did a nice job in the starting rotation last season, going 6-4 with a 2.92 earned run average and came up clutch multiple times during the Cavaliers run to the College World Series. This will be a very intriguing storyline to watch unfold throughout the course of the season.

Final Projection:
Virginia will open the season with a tough road trip down to Greenville, North Carolina to play an East Carolina squad that is always tough to deal with. The nonconference schedule also will have tough mid-week matchups with Liberty and Old Dominion, a couple of squads that made the NCAA Tournament last season and are serious threats to make it back to the NCAA Tournament again this season.  The conference slate is relatively favorable for the Cavaliers as three of the five toughest conference series will take place at Davenport Field. Florida State visits Virginia for a three-game series starting on March 20th, in what will be fascinating matchup between two teams that are not afraid to battle each other in hard fought games. Louisville, who went to the College World Series last season, will visit Charlottesville in the first weekend in April. A road trip to Georgia Tech is a potential trap series for Virginia as it comes between the Louisville and Miami series. The other potentially critical road series in conference play will be at North Carolina on the final weekend of the regular season as that could decide the ACC Coastal Division Championship. The Cavaliers have won 298 games as a program in the last six seasons, which is the most in Division I Baseball. They have done everything but win the national championship. It won’t be easy, but the pieces are in place for another trip to Omaha and a shot at redemption, potentially against Vanderbilt, in another Championship Series.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Joe McCarthy, OF, 256
Hits: Joe McCarthy, OF, 77
Home Runs: Joe McCarthy, OF, 6
RBIs: Joe McCarthy, OF, 49
Runs: Joe McCarthy, OF, 55
Stolen Bases: Joe McCarthy, OF, 11

Wins: Brandon Waddell, P, 10
Innings Pitched: Brandon Waddell, P, 114.0
Strikeouts: Nathan Kirby, P, 112
Saves: Connor Jones, P, 1

Madness 2015 MLB Draft Rankings:
#7 Nathan Kirby
#46 Joe McCarthy
#82 Josh Sborz

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#31 Adam Haseley


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