With the departure of star pitcher Anthony Kay, sophomore Tim Cate was expected to build on an impressive freshman campaign and take over the role of the ace on the pitching staff. While Cate has been nothing short of spectacular, he’s not the Huskies’ best pitcher this season.
That honor would go to Mason Feole, who improved to 5-0 on the season with a win on Sunday afternoon.
Feole, a 6-foot-2 left-handed freshman from Rhode Island, pitched eight scoreless innings to help UConn seal a series sweep of Memphis.
“We were really just working fastball-changeup,” Feole said. “It was locating well down in the zone, getting a lot of ground balls, tough swings on inside fastballs and I think we were able to attack both sides of the plate pretty well and keep that ball down.”
Cate may allow the least hits per inning pitched and junior Wills Montgomerie may be 10th in Division I with 63 strikeouts, but it’s Feole who leads the Huskies in wins and has the lowest ERA of any starter at 2.28.
“He was awesome,” UConn Head Coach Jim Penders said. “That’s about as good as it gets. He showed tremendous poise. He’s getting better every time out and throwing strikes.”
Feole’s batterymate Zac Susi was also impressed with the freshman’s performance on the mound Sunday.
“He was great today,” UConn Catcher Zac Susi said. “He had full command of all three of his pitches. Attacking the strike zone, making pitches when he had to”
Feole is in the midst of 20 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He pitched seven innings against then-No. 16 East Carolina last weekend, only allowing one unearned run. Before that, Feole pitched five scoreless innings in a win over Seton Hall. He credits the hot streak to a focus on throwing strikes.
“(Limiting walks) was my main focus, honestly, for my last couple starts now,” Feole said. “I struggled in the beginning of the year to stay in the zone and make pitches in 2-2, 3-1 counts to keep the batter off of first base. But it felt like I was able to throw strikes and be aggressive on both sides of the plate today and not issue any free ones.”
Although he may not record the strikeout numbers like fellow starters Cate and Montgomerie, Feole is confident in the defense behind him.
“It feels great to be able to make a pitch and give our defense an opportunity to make plays,” Feole said. “Our infield was just hands-down awesome today.”
Feole’s success early in his collegiate career has certainly played a key role in UConn’s 19-10 start to the season and 6-0 record in American Athletic Conference play. He will likely take the mound next on Saturday when the Huskies close out their series with Tulane.
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.