Jan. 25, 2016
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Virginia baseball team is ranked No. 4 in the preseason Baseball America rankings for the 2016 season, the publication announced Monday. It marks the second straight season in which Virginia has been tabbed preseason No. 4 by Baseball America.
Coming off the program’s first NCAA championship in 2015, Virginia returns 17 letterwinners and welcomes 17 newcomers this season. Virginia boasts a pair of preseason All-Americans in starting pitcher Connor Jones (Jr., Chesapeake, Va.) and catcher Matt Thaiss (Jr., Jackson, N.J.).
Jones was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by D1Baseball on Monday, while Thaiss was named to the second team. Jones went 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 18 starts in 2015. He worked a team-high 115 2/3 innings, striking out 113 and limiting opponents to a .226 batting average. A Third-Team All-America selection by Louisville Slugger and the NCBWA in 2015, Thaiss led the team in batting (.323) and home runs (10) while also finishing second on the team in RBI (64) and hits (82).
Jones also has been named to the preseason All-America squads of Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game (second team), while Thaiss was a third-team selection on Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason All-America Team.
All-ACC shortstop Daniel Pinero and 2015 Freshman All-Americans Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley also are back for Virginia, which returns seven of its nine starting positions players from its national championship squad.
Virginia owns the most wins in Division I baseball over the last seven seasons with 342 and also has won 40 NCAA tournament games in that span (second most nationally). UVA has led the country by winning six regional championships and making four trips to the College World Series since 2009.
The Cavaliers open the 2016 season on Friday, Feb. 19, against Kent State in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The team’s home opener at Davenport Field is Tuesday, Feb. 23, versus VMI.