Weekend previews, Feb. 17-19

'The Skinny' on weekend action for baseball, softball, wrestling and track and field

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Virginia returns junior firstbaseman Pavin Smith, who is the Cavaliers' best returning power hitter and a pre-season All-American. 

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

Baseball

What: No. 17 Virginia baseball opens up its season at the Charleston Crab House Challenge

Where: Joseph P. Riley Park in Charleston, S.C.

When: Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19

The Skinny: The Virginia baseball team looks to start its season strong at the Charleston Crab House Challenge this weekend in Charleston, S.C. The Cavaliers will take on Liberty University, The Citadel and the University of Kansas Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to begin their season.

Virginia begins the season sitting at No. 17 after finishing 38-22 overall and 19-11 in the ACC last season — a year removed from a national title. Virginia earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but it lost two heartbreaking games against East Carolina and William & Mary in the first regional round to ends its season.

The Cavaliers go into the season without two key pieces of last year’s team whom they lost to the MLB Draft. Catcher Matt Thaiss was drafted No. 16 overall by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, while ace pitcher Connor Jones to the St. Louis Cardinals as the No. 70 pick.

The Cavaliers do return junior first baseman Pavin Smith — a preseason All-American and Virginia's best returning power hitter — and junior second baseman Ernie Clement — who was a Third-Team All-ACC selection last year after batting .351 and starting in all of Virginia’s games.

On the pitching side, Virginia brings back the versatile junior Adam Haseley, who posted a stellar 1.73 ERA in 13 starts last year. Haseley was also a key part of Virginia’s offense, batting .304 with a .502 slugging percentage — good for third on the team.

Head coach Brian O’Connor returns to Virginia for his 14th year at the helm, looking to elongate the team’s streak of 13-straight NCAA Tournament appearances under his leadership. He will look to validate the lofty expectations for the Cavaliers beginning this weekend in Charleston.

— compiled by Alec Dougherty

Softball

What: Charleston Southern Buccaneer Invitational

Where: Charleston, S.C.; Elon, N.C.

When: Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19

The Skinny: Between the Charleston Southern Buccaneer Invitational and a doubleheader against Elon (3-1), the Virginia softball team (2-3) will play six games in its second week of the season.

The Cavaliers are back in action after the Kajikawa Classic in Arizona, where Virginia picked up two wins and suffered three losses. Among those wins was an exciting extra-inning game against Western Michigan that gave coach Joanna Hardin her first win at Virginia.

First on the schedule for the Cavaliers is East Tennessee State University, who has started off the season strong by winning the AmericInn Classic championship and posting the best start to a season in program history. The Bucs (4-1) were led by a strong hitting performance from sophomore Tiffany Laughren, who batted .750 last weekend. Junior Madison Ogle was also big for the Bucs last weekend — getting a win and two saves from the pitching mound.

After going up against ETSU, the Cavaliers will take on Charleston Southern later in the day. The Buccaneers (2-5) finished their opening weekend of the season the second-most home runs of any team in the nation.

Saturday, Virginia will have another crack at ETSU and will also face UNC-Wilmington. The Cavaliers will be the first opponent for the Seahawks this season.

The jam-packed weekend for the Cavalier concludes Sunday with a double-header against Elon. The Phoenix (3-1) started off its opening weekend going undefeated, and then it dropped a game to North Carolina this past Wednesday.

After the matches at Elon, Virginia will hit the road for the East Carolina Pirate Invitational with five games from Feb. 24-26.

— compiled by Emma D’Arpino

Wrestling

What: U.S. Collegiate Championships

When: Sunday, Feb. 19

Where: Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Skinny: After finishing up their final dual meet of the season with a tough loss to No. 24 Pittsburg, Virginia will move on to tournament season.

Things will kick off this Sunday when the Cavaliers (10-6, 2-3 ACC) travel over to Colorado Springs to compete in the U.S. Collegiate Championships at the Air Force Academy.

The U.S. Collegiate Championships is composed of over 75 wrestlers from 10 schools in the nation. Nationally ranked schools who plan to send wrestlers include No. 2 Penn State and No. 22 Stanford.

Virginia’s two highest-ranked wrestlers, freshman Jack Mueller and senior George DiCamillo hope to be able to place in the tournament.

The tournament will take begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

— compiled by Hunter Ostad

Track and Field

What: UCS Invitational

Where: Winston Salem, N.C.

When: Saturday, Feb. 18

The Skinny: Virginia indoor track and field will compete in the UCS Invitational this Saturday, Feb. 18. Coming off great finishes two weeks ago in the Scarlet and White Meet in Boston, Mass., the two teams will attempt to further their resume as a team and push towards both individual and team placements in national competitions.

With a plethora of teams to compete against, the competition will be fierce. A couple of athletes to keep an eye on this weekend are senior Zach Herriott — who earned ACC Performer of the Week honors last week — and sophomore Oghenakpobo Efekoro — who finished second in shot put last weekend. On the women’s side, it will be interesting to see how senior Christine Bohan follow ups her win last week in the women’s shot put with a 15.27m throw.

— compiled by Ryan Coyne

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