Baseball: UConn set to begin conference play against USF in a weekend series

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The series starts Friday at 7 p.m., continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m in Tampa, Fl. (File/The Daily Campus)

The Huskies will start off conference play with a must-see matchup as two lefty aces are set to duke it out on the mound Friday night.

While UConn’s ace Tim Cate has struggled in the early part of the season, he is widely regarded as a potential first-round draft pick. Meanwhile, USF’s Shane McClanahan has been superb for the Bulls and threw six no-hit innings with 15 strikeouts against Army in his last outing. On the season, he has yet to yield a run over 30.2 innings.

Last season, the Huskies tagged McClanahan for four runs over six innings in their 6-2 win. UConn head coach Jim Penders said the team will need to execute similarly and frustrate the lefty.

“He’s certainly one of the best pitchers, if not the best pitcher, in the country,”Penders said of McClanahan. “We are going to have to stick to our game plan if we are going to have any chance at all of beating him.”

Penders said that he is confident Cate, who has a 4.85 ERA this season, will be able to get back on track and be successful Friday night. As for what the Huskies’ game plan will be against the reigning American conference Pitcher of the Week, he wants the team to be gritty and do whatever is necessary to get on base.

Offensively, UConn (10-7) has several players capable of doing damage including Troy Stefanski, Zac Susi, John Toppa, Anthony Prato and Isaac Feldstein. Stefanski leads the starters with a .349 average accompanied by three homers. Feldstein is the team’s main power source with six dingers. As a team, they have a .330 on-base percentage.

The Bulls (16-6) offense has been able to do damage this season against opposing pitchers. First baseman Joe Genord is coming off a week, which featured 11 RBIs, four homers and a .500 batting average.  David Villar leads the offense in batting average (.392), on-base percentage (.500) and is tied for homers (4).

UConn’s Mason Feole, who is projected to pitch Saturday night, has been terrific for the Huskies. His last time on the mound, he tossed six shut-out innings against St. John’s in a gritty 1-0 win. UConn will hope for him to take another step forward as conference play begins.

The series starts Friday at 7 p.m., continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m in Tampa, Fl.


Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.logan@uconn.edu.

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