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Feb. 7, 2007

For the second consecutive season, the Cavaliers open the year at Coastal Carolina for the Springmaid Beach Resort Tournament, where they will meet Elon, North Florida, and Coastal Carolina. Last year, Virginia picked up a pair of wins in the tournament, defeating The Citadel 5-3 and Coastal Carolina 8-3. The Cavaliers will start Sean Doolittle against Elon on Friday, Jacob Thompson against North Florida on Saturday, and Matt Packer against Coastal Carolina on Sunday.

Each of the other three teams in the field are also opening their season this weekend at the tournament. Elon is the defending Southern Conference champion and last season participated in the NCAA Tournament at the Clemson Regional. The Phoenix are led by Robert Rodebaugh, a first-team All-Southern Conference selection a year ago, when he hit .340 with 11 home runs. North Florida was selected fourth in the preseason conference poll of coaches in the Atlantic Sun Conference. A season ago, the Ospreys had a 34-21 record. Catcher Brandon Diaz led the Ospreys in home runs with seven, while hitting for a .302 average a year ago. The host, Coastal Carolina, is projected second in the preseason Big South poll. Adam Vrabel returns after leading the team in hitting last season with a .324 average. The Chanticleers’ rosters also includes freshman infielder David Poutier, the younger brother of Cavalier pitcher Robert Poultier.

Friday’s game against Elon is the second all-time meeting between the schools. The Phoenix won the only previous meeting, 13-4, in 1981. The Cavaliers are 1-1 all-time against North Florida. The schools split a pair of games in 1989, with UNF winning the first 8-2 and the Cavaliers winning the second 12-4. The Cavaliers series against Coastal Carolina is tied 1-1, with UVa win coming in last year’s Springmaid Beach Resort tournament. Coastal’s win over Virginia came during the 1979 season.

The Cavaliers enter the weekend ranked in the top ten of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, the Collegiate Baseball Poll and the Baseball America rankings. Virginia is No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball, and is ranked No. 9 by both Baseball America and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Virginia is 2-1 in season openers under Brian O’Connor. The Cavaliers defeated North Carolina A&T, 10-7, in O’Connor’s first game as the coach at Virginia. In 2005, UVa fell to UNC Wilmington, 5-2. Last season, Virginia downed The Citadel 5-3 in the season opener. Dating back to 1960, Virginia is 29-17-1 in season openers.

Last season, Virginia had nine position players make at least 40 starts, and eight of those players return in 2007. Catcher Beau Seabury, first baseman/pitcher Sean Doolittle, second baseman David Adams, shortstop Greg Miclat, third baseman Jeremy Farrell, left fielder Brandon Guyer, centerfielder Tim Henry, and rightfielder Brandon Marsh all return, with utility player Tom Hagen the lone Cavalier regular from last year to depart (graduation). The pitching staff returns three of its four players with the most starts on the team in Doolittle, Jacob Thompson, and Pat McAnaney, in addition to the return of closer Casey Lambert. The lone regular starter to depart the Cavalier staff was Mike Ballard (graduation).

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