No. 13 Cavaliers Open 2011 Season at Auburn Tournament
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia baseball team begins its 2011 slate this weekend as it competes in the Auburn Tournament, held at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala. Ranked as high as No. 13 nationally, UVa begins the tournament at 3 p.m. ET Friday against UAB. The Cavaliers will take on the tournament host, No. 23 Auburn, at 2 p.m. ET Saturday before facing Arkansas State at noon ET Sunday.
Live statistics will be available for all three contests at VirginiaSports.com. A link to the Auburn’s radio broadcast of the UVa-AU contest also will be available at VirginiaSports.com (a fee is required for this broadcast).
Virginia comes off a record-setting 2010 season in which it won a school-record 51 games and earned ACC Coastal Division and NCAA regional championships. The Cavaliers return five position starters and 10 pitchers from that squad and were voted the preseason favorite to repeat as the ACC’s Coastal Division champions in a vote of the conference’s coaches.
UVa returns two of its three starting pitchers from the 2010 weekend rotation. Two-time All-American Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) was named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List on Thursday – he will make the start for the Cavaliers Friday after going 11-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 2010. Hultzen also will see an increased role in the batter’s box this year. He was a .327 hitter as a freshman.
Cody Winiarski (Sr., Franksville, Wis.) also returns and will start Sunday; he was 5-0 last year. After making 51-consecutive relief appearances, Tyler Wilson (Sr., Midlothian, Va.) moves into the rotation and will start Saturday. Wilson was 8-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 63.1 innings out of the bullpen in 2010.
After the loss of five position starters, the Cavaliers will have plenty of new faces in the starting lineup. Second baseman Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) is the Wahoos’ top returning hitter after batting .414 a year ago (fifth best in program history). John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) shifts to center field this year – he was the team’s third-leading hitter last year at .373. Third baseman Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) has hit .324 and driven in 124 runs while making 128 starts over his first two seasons. Two of the Cavaliers’ veteran catchers also return – John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.). Both are extremely versatile and could also play first base or either of the corner outfield positions.
UAB posted a 28-25 record and went 11-13 in Conference USA in 2010. Outfielder Jamal Austin highlights the seven returning position starters – he hit a team-best .364 and stole 28 bases last season. Infielder John Frost, who was second on the team with a .338 batting average in 2010, also returns for the Blazers. UAB is scheduled to start Montclair, Va., native Ryan Wooley (RHP, 3-4, 7.03 ERA in 2010) against UVa in the teams’ first-ever meeting.
Auburn went 43-21 last season and played host to an NCAA regional. The Tigers boasted one of the nation’s most potent offenses in 2010 and led the nation in home runs with 131. Auburn returns six position starters from the 2010 squad. Justin Fradejas hit .358 with 33 RBI last year, while Tony Caldwell hit .349 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. Southpaw Cory Luckie (6-4, 5.91 ERA in 2010) will get the starting nod on the mound for the Tigers.
Arkansas State notched a 30-28 record and 16-15 mark in the Sun Belt last season. Senior infielder Jordan Castalado is the team’s leading returning hitter after batting .363 with 20 doubles last year. The RedWolves are slated to start right-hander Daniel Wright (3-3, 4.10 ERA in 2010) on the mound Sunday against the Wahoos. It also will be the first meeting between these two programs.
The Cavaliers have faced Auburn 12 times previously, with the Tigers owning a 9-3 series edge. UVa last played Auburn in 2003 in a season-opening three-game series which the Tigers swept.
Virginia’s home opener is slated for 3 p.m. Wednesday vs. VMI. UVa then plays host to East Carolina next weekend in a three-game series at Davenport Field.