The UConn Huskies baseball team will hit the ground running this weekend as they begin their season against Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Georgia Tech.
UConn was picked to finish second in the preseason poll, while receiving three first-place votes. Houston, who knocked the Huskies out in the American Championship semifinals last season, was picked to finish first. UConn finished last season in third place, going 33-25.
Junior starting pitcher Tim Cate will return and many scouts expect big things from the lefty this season. He was named the No. 11 prospect by D1baseball.com, No. 13 by Baseball America and No. 33 by MLB.com.
Cate was third in the conference for strikeouts (102) over 75.2 innings pitched with a 3.33 ERA. He was named to the Preseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes watch list after a stellar sophomore season.
Junior catcher Zac Susi and Cate were named to the Preseason All-Conference team. Susi hit .286 to go with nine doubles, two homers and 40 RBI. Sophomore shortstop Anthony Prato had an impressive freshman season, hitting .303 with 10 doubles and 33 RBI.
Sophomore starting pitcher Mason Feole had an impressive first season, going 7-4 with a 3.38 ERA over 82.2 innings pitched. The lefty won the American Athletic Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Year.
Junior pitcher P.J. Poulin is another impressive lefty who registered a 3.28 ERA in 35.2 innings and struck out 29 with a 2-0 record. As a team, the Huskies’ ERA was fourth (3.84) in the conference.
UConn will begin their season opening road trip Friday against Kennesaw State at 4 p.m. The Owls (25-32) had a high-octane offense last season led by Taylor Allum who hit .319/.435/.590 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI. The Huskies’ pitching staff should have a good test in their matchup.
While, Kennesaw State can hit, they struggle with pitching. Their team ERA was 5.16 and they lost their best pitcher Tony Dibrell to the MLB Draft.
The Huskies second game of the weekend will be Saturday at 2 p.m. against Georgia State (22-35). The Panthers played their best at home where they won 14 games. Catcher Nick Gatewood hit .319/.370/.482 with five homers and 22 RBI.
Hunter Gaddis was their most effective pitcher last year, throwing 75 innings, 67 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA. However, the team had a bloated ERA of 5.92.
The Huskies’ final game of the weekend will be Sunday at 1 p.m. against Georgia Tech (27-28). The Yellow Jackets had a team batting average of .286, compared to their opponents .270. Catcher Joey Bart led the team in homeruns (13) and RBI (43).
Georgia Tech struggles to hold their opponents off the scoreboard, as they have a team ERA of 5.36. Their best pitcher last season, Zac Ryan, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels.
UConn’s offense will miss Willy Yahn, who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. Yahn led the team in batting average (.317) and was tied for the lead in on-base percentage (.376).
This weekend will be a good test for the Huskies’ pitching staff and a good opportunity for the offense to establish its identity.
Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.