Spring Sports — a breakdown

Looking ahead to the softball, men’s lacrosse, baseball and men’s tennis seasons

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Dox Aitken (top left), Jake McCarthy (top right), Allison Davis (bottom left) and Carl Söderlund (bottom right) all look to lead their respective teams to success this spring.

Aisha Singh | Cavalier Daily

Softball

In Coach Joanna Hardin’s second season with Virginia, she’ll look to guide the team to build on the successes of her debut season. Last year, Hardin led the Cavaliers to the ACC Tournament for the first time in three seasons, and brought in Virginia’s first win against a ranked opponent since 2014. Hardin also coached the team to nine ACC victories, making for the second most conference wins in school history.

Hardin’s team returns plenty of key players that can make for another successful season. Among those players are senior outfielder and pitcher Allison Davis, senior first baseman Danni Ingraham and junior pitcher Erika Osherow.

Davis, a two-time All-ACC Academic team member, had the second best batting average on the team after hitting .328 last season. Davis also had 16 multi-hit games, and her four triples tied for the fifth most in the conference.

On the pitching side, Virginia returns Osherow who is also a two-time All-ACC Academic team member. Osherow posted a 4.78 ERA and 86 strikeouts last season. As the Cavaliers’ go-to pitcher, she had the fourth most starts in the circle and the fifth most appearances as pitcher in the conference.

Virginia starts off its season with a double-header Feb. 8 at McNeese State, where, prior to coaching at Virginia, Hardin served as head coach for two seasons.

After a few tournaments, the Cavaliers will host their first opponent Feb. 28 when they take on Campbell in Charlottesville.

— compiled by Emma D’Arpino

Men’s Lacrosse

Virginia begins the 2018 lacrosse season as a team on the rise, looking to improve its defense in the second year of the Tiffany era.

The Cavaliers should enter the 2018 lacrosse season with plenty of hope, as its young talent will look to carry the team to a return to the postseason.

The 2017 Virginia lacrosse team (8-7, 0-4 ACC) never failed to excite, with the third-best offense in the nation. It was defensive problems, however, that plagued the Cavaliers in ACC play. This season, the Cavaliers need to look seriously at improving what was last year the No. 65 scoring defense in the nation if they want to contend.

This year marks Coach Lars Tiffany’s second year at the helm of Virginia lacrosse. Tiffany was known at Brown for his team’s offensive prowess, which he has certainly brought to this Cavaliers squad. The team’s clear weakness was defense, which Tiffany has taken steps to improve. The defense performed far better at the end of last season, after the coach made some organizational changes.

Virginia returns its leading scorer, Michael Kraus, as well as two other 40-point scorers, senior attack Mike D’Amario and sophomore midfielder Dox Aitken. The Cavaliers’ already-potent scoring punch will be improved by incoming recruit Matt Moore, an electrifying midfielder. 

Virginia’s defense has much more uncertainty. With former USILA Scholar All-American defender Tanner Scales gone, the Cavaliers will rely heavily on senior defender Scott Hooper to ignite the defense’s improvement.

Virginia needs to pick up wins in conference play if it wants to make the leap back to the playoffs, as its non-conference schedule lacking in marquee matchups besides clashes against longtime rival Johns Hopkins and Princeton.

The up-and-coming Cavaliers begin play Feb. 10 at home against Loyola.

— compiled by Zach Zamoff

Baseball

The Virginia baseball team has been a model of consistent success for Cavalier athletics since Coach Brian O’Connor’s first season in 2004. Since winning the College World Series in 2015, the Cavaliers have faltered early in the playoffs in consecutive years, so O’Connor will look to push past regular season success in 2018. 

The Cavaliers will have to do so without their top offensive weapons from last season — outfielder Adam Haseley and first baseman Pavin Smith, who were both top-10 picks in the MLB draft. Junior outfielders Cameron Simmons and Jake McCarthy will look to elevate their play as the best returning hitters on the team. Simmons was second among the Cavaliers with 57 RBIs last season, while McCarthy swiped 27 bases in 29 attempts. 

A pitching staff that also lost some talent will be led by senior righty Derek Casey, who returned with 14 starts in 2017 after sitting out the 2016 season due to elbow surgery. Virginia ended last season ranked No. 19 in the country, and with four other ACC teams in the Top 25, the Cavaliers will once again have a brutal slate of games ahead of them.O’Connor ability to develop his new upperclassman into stars will be crucial to the team’s success.

— compiled by Alec Dougherty

Men’s Tennis

The men’s tennis team heads into its first season without Coach Brian Boland, who led the team to national championships in three of the past four years, with significantly lowered expectations. The Cavaliers were ranked outside of the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association Top 10 for the first time in a decade. While men’s basketball has proved that preseason rankings can be meaningless, this ranking shows a lack of confidence that new Coach Andres Pedroso can maintain Virginia’s status as a national powerhouse.

Pedroso will lead a relatively inexperienced team, as only sophomore Carl Söderlund and senior Henrik Wiersholm return from last season’s National Championship winning singles ladder. They will be joined in the lineup by junior Aswin Lizen and incoming freshmen Gianni Ross, Matthew Lord and Kyrylo Tsygura, among others.

The men’s team started its season with two 4-3 wins over Temple and Richmond, and continues its play this weekend.

— compiled by Jake Blank

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