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Feb. 20, 1998

THE SLATE: The Cavaliers return to Charlottesville this weekend to play host to Penn State in their first home series of the season. Virginia will face the Nittany Lions in a doubleheader at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, followed by a single game at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22. The series with Penn State marks the beginning of a seven-game homestand for the Cavaliers. Following this weekends game, Virginia will play host to Virginia Military Institute on Feb. 25. Seton Hall will then come to town for a three-game set on Feb. 28 and Mar. 1.

THE SERIES WITH PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions and the Cavaliers have played nine times prior to this weekend, with Penn State leading the all-time series 6-3. Virginia posted a 12-4 victory over the Nittany Lions in last years season opener, which marked the first meeting between the schools since 1933. The teams first met in 1894, with the Cavaliers posting a 14-4 victory.

UVA LOOKS FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS IN HOME OPENERS: The Cavaliers, who have an impressive record in their home opener the last few years, will look to win their seventh straight home opener when they face Penn State on Saturday. The last time Virginia did not win its first home game of the season was 1991, when it played Liberty to a 5-5 tie. In the 17 seasons Dennis Womack has been the head coach in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers have a 15-1-1 record in their first home game. The only home-opening loss under Womack came in 1989, when Virginia Commonwealth downed UVa 6-2. Here is a look at how Virginia has done on opening day in the Womack era:

Year    Opponent           Score   Year Opponent     Score1981    Westfield State W, 21-8 1990    Liberty      W,17-51982    Norfolk State   W, 15-8 1991    Liberty      T, 5-51983    VCU             W, 11-8 1992    Marshall     W, 7-51984    George Mason    W, 12-1 1993    Marshall     W, 4-21985    Seton Hall      W, 3-0  1994    Georgetown   W,14-01986    Seton Hall      W, 13-2 1995    Marshall     W, 5-01987    VCU             W, 6-1  1996    Old Dominion W, 3-21988    West Chester    W, 8-2  1997    Seton Hall   W, 11-101989    VCU             L, 2-6  1998    Penn State  ?????

ON THE MOUND: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy and freshman lefthander Greg Withelder are scheduled to pitch for the Cavaliers in the doubleheader against Penn State on Feb. 21. In the final game of the series with the Nittany Lions on Feb. 22, junior lefthander Javier Lopez will take the mound for Virginia.

CAVALIERS TAKE TWO OF THREE IN HOUSTON: Virginia opened up the 1998 season by winning two out of three games at the Big Ball Sports Classic, held on the campus of Rice University in Houston, Texas. The Cavaliers downed fourth-ranked Rice 3-2 in the opener, fell to South Alabama 8-5 in their second game and defeated No. 15 Oklahoma State 4-2 in the final game of the weekend. By downing two ranked teams on the opening weekend, UVa already has as many wins over ranked teams in 1998 as it had in all of 1997.

GILLELAND NAMED ACC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior second baseman Ryan Gilleland was selected as the ACC Player of the Week after starting the season with three outstanding games at the Big Ball Sports Classic. Gilleland was 7-for-12 (.583) on the weekend with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. His biggest game came against Rice in the opener, as he went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, accounting for all three of the Cavaliers runs.

KENNEDY EARNS ACC PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONORS: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy has been named the ACC Pitcher of the Week following his outstanding performance against Rice in the season opener. Kennedy defeated the Owls by throwing a complete game six hitter in which he needed only 96 pitches. He allowed only two runs in the game, and at one point retired 10 consecutive batters. Dating back to last season, Kennedy has now thrown complete games in five of his last six starts. Kennedy has also been selected as ACC Pitcher of the Week three times in his young career, after earning the honor twice in the final three weeks of the 1997 season.

PITCHING STAFF LOOKS SOLID: If the first week of the season serves as any indication, the starting pitching rotation for the Cavaliers should be a strength this season. In addition to Casey Kennedys outstanding performance against Rice, both freshman Greg Withelder and junior Javier Lopez had strong showings. The lefthanded Withelder threw seven inning against South Alabama, allowing only two runs on six hits before leaving the game with a 5-2 lead. Lopez, also a lefthander, then went 6-2/3 inning against Oklahoma State, allowing only one run on four hits. Combined, the three starting pitchers have an ERA of 1.99 on the season.

GILLELAND RECORDS 200TH CAREER HIT: While going 7-for-12 in the first three games of the season, Ryan Gilleland also recorded the 200th base hit of his collegiate career. Hit No. 200 came in the third inning of the South Alabama game, when he lined a double into left field. With that hit, Gilleland became only the sixth player in school history with 200 career hits. The five other UVa players to have accomplished the feat are Bill Narleski (281 hits / 1984-87), Adam Robinson (263 hits / 1994-97), Bobby Rivell (240 hits / 1987-90), Chris Kughn (225 hits / 1987-90) and John Galloway (223 hits / 1994-97).

LOPEZ GOING BOTH WAYS: Junior Javier Lopez has been one of the most valuable players for the Cavaliers so far this season, making important contributions both at the plate and on the mound. Lopez is currently the teams second leading hitter with a .417 (5-for-12) average through the first three games, to go along with a team-best two home runs. As a pitcher, Lopez picked up the victory in the Oklahoma State game, throwing 6-2/3 innings and allowing only one run on four hits.

MAKING THEM EARN IT: One reason for the Cavaliers success last weekend was their solid defense. Virginia made only three errors all weekend, giving them a team fielding percentage of .974 on the year. The top performer has been third baseman Brian Sherlock, who has made some outstanding defensive plays while totaling three putouts and 11 assists without an error. Due to this excellent defense, UVa opponents have scored only one unearned run this year (when Oklahoma State scored once in a ninth inning which saw the Cavaliers commit two of their three errors).

HEAD COACH DENNIS WOMACK: UVa head coach Dennis Womack, who is in his 18th season with the Cavaliers, has a career record of 442-426-5. In 1996, he led Virginia to a school record 44 victories, its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championship and its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers also finished the 96 season ranked No. 14 in the nation by Baseball America, their highest ever national-ranking. Womack picked up the 400th victory of his career on May 11, 1996, when the Cavaliers posted a 9-7 victory over seventh-ranked Florida State.

UVA NAMES TRI-CAPTAINS: Seniors Ryan Gilleland, Ted Kinsman and Brian Sherlock have been named the Cavaliers captains for the 1997 season. Both Gilleland and Sherlock have been starters for UVa throughout their career, while Kinsman stepped up to become a key part of the lineup last season.

CAVALIERS ON THE NET:Up-to-date information on the UVa baseball team is now available on the internet at The site includes the Cavaliers roster, schedule, results, player profiles, statistics, releases, game stories and historical information. Game stories will be updated on a timely basis following the completion of each contest. Updated statistics will be posted each Monday during the season.

KNOCKS: With at least one hit in every game so far this season, Javier Lopez now has a six-game hitting streak, dating back to the final three games of 1997 Freshman righthander Denny Chapman faced only one batter against Oklahoma State in his collegiate debut. Chapman struck out pinch hitter Tony Roossien with two outs and a man on second.

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