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Weekend Previews: April 24-26

The Skinny on weekend action for Virginia’s baseball, track and field, women’s tennis, softball, men’s golf and men’s tennis teams

<p>Sophomore first baseman Kaitin Fitzgerald leads Virginia with a .364 batting average and 39 RBI. The Cavaliers must win all three games against Syracuse this weekend — and get some help from Georgia Tech — to gain postseason eligibility. </p>

Sophomore first baseman Kaitin Fitzgerald leads Virginia with a .364 batting average and 39 RBI. The Cavaliers must win all three games against Syracuse this weekend — and get some help from Georgia Tech — to gain postseason eligibility.

Baseball

What: No. 19 Virginia (26-15, 9-12 ACC) vs. NC State (21-17, 9-11 ACC)

Where: Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Skinny: For Virginia baseball, confusion reigns supreme ahead of a weekend series with NC State. Injuries to junior Nathan Kirby and freshman Derek Casey leave the pitching staff in a state of flux.

Kirby will miss 6-8 weeks with a left lat strain. Casey’s diagnosis and prognosis are still unknown. What is known is that the two injuries rob the Cavaliers of their ace and most likely candidate to slot into the weekend rotation.

Coach Brian O’Connor does have options — junior David Rosenberger appears to have regained his form and his confidence after two stellar emergency relief appearances. The lefty threw 2.2 innings of one-run ball and picked up the win after coming in for the injured Kirby last Friday. Tuesday, he worked 3.3 innings and surrendered three runs. O’Connor has not ruled out returning junior closer Josh Sborz to the weekend rotation, where he thrived in 2014.

Fortunately for whomever pitches Sunday, Virginia’s offense is scoring runs in bunches — the team put up 38 over its recent six-game homestand. The Cavalier batters can expect a challenge over the weekend — the Wolfpack’s staff ERA of 3.18 is fourth-best in the conference. However, Virginia did score a total of 16 runs against the ACC’s third-best pitching team, the Hurricanes.

An invitation to the ACC Tournament is still far from assured for the Cavaliers, who will enter the weekend tied with Georgia Tech and Wake Forest for the ninth-best conference winning percentage. The Yellow Jackets host Clemson, while Wake Forest takes on red-hot Notre Dame, winner of 11 of its last 15 games. With a solid performance in Raleigh, the Cavaliers can take some uncertainty away from its future.

—compiled by Matthew Wurzburger

Outdoor Track and Field

What: Penn Relays

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When: Thursday-Saturday, all day

The Skinny: Three weeks away from a big trip to the ACC Outdoor Championships, the Virginia track and field program is hitting its stride at the right time. At the Virginia Challenge last weekend, the Cavaliers excelled against top opponents in front of a peppy home crowd.

Over the two-day meet, eight Virginia athletes made history. The 4x100m relay of senior Jordan Lavender, junior Peyton Chaney and sophomores Andrea Wright and Tori McKenzie shattered a program record that had stood for almost two decades. Freshman Bridget Guy, who shares the Virginia indoor pole-vault record with senior Sarah DeVita, claimed the outdoor record by a 1.5-inch margin.

Sophomore throwers Filip Mihaljevic, Jordan Young and Christine Bohan followed suit. Mihaljevic broke school records in the men’s discus and shot put, garnering ACC Field Performer of the Week honors. Young topped his own record in the men’s hammer throw. Last but not least, Bohan set the school record in the women’s shot put.

With the exception of Young, the record holders will return to action this week at the Penn Relays. Mihaljevic should provide the No. 16 men, who are ranked higher than ever before, with two more superb performances in the discus and shot put. Meanwhile, the 4x100m quartet, along with freshman jumper Katie Freix and Bohan, should set a top-25 tone for the unranked women.

—compiled by Grant Gossage

Women’s Tennis

What: No. 10 Virginia (18-5, 11-3 ACC) vs. No. 21 Clemson (15-8, 10-4 ACC) or Louisville (11-3, 2-9 ACC) at the ACC Championships

Where: Cary Tennis Park, Cary, North Carolina

When: Friday, 3 p.m.

The Skinny: The Virginia women’s tennis team, the No. 4 seed in this week’s ACC Women’s Tennis Championship, will face either No. 5 seed Clemson or No. 13 seed Louisville in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

Virginia (18-5, 11-3 ACC), which claimed the ACC tournament a year ago, opens with a bye to the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season. In three of the last four seasons, the Cavaliers have managed to make it to the semifinals — something they have accomplished six times in school history (1993, 2001, 2003 and 2012-14).

Clemson (15-8, 10-4 ACC) appears to be the favorite to face Virginia in the quarters. The Tigers blanked Louisville (11-3, 2-9 ACC) 7-0 in their March 7 regular-season matchup.

If the Cavaliers were to face Clemson, it would be a rematch of a March 20 matchup at Clemson’s Hoke Sloan Tennis Center. Virginia won 4-3 in one of the most thrilling matches of the season. Down 3-1, the Cavaliers rallied to win the last three singles points and clinch the match.

Friday’s match is set to start at 3 p.m. at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, North Carolina. If Virginia wins, it will advance to the semifinals, which is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. The final is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.

—compiled by Daniel Fisher

Softball

What: Virginia (16-37, 4-17 ACC) vs. Syracuse (17-26, 1-13 ACC)

Where: Skytop Softball Stadium, Syracuse, New York

When: Saturday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.

The Skinny: For the Virginia softball team, the entire fate of the 2015 season comes down to one weekend. The Cavaliers must take all three games in this weekend’s regular-season finale against Syracuse in order to slide within the top eight teams in the conference and qualify for the ACC tournament.

Unfortunately for Virginia, the team is not in total control of its destiny. The only obstacle between Virginia and the postseason is Georgia Tech, which currently sits as the eighth seed in the tournament and just two games in front of the Cavaliers. In addition to winning all of its games against Syracuse, Virginia will pray that No. 10 Florida State sweeps Georgia Tech, allowing the Cavaliers to slip past the Yellowjackets and into the postseason.

In the event of a tie in the standings, which could occur if Virginia does not take all three of its games or if Georgia Tech does not get swept, Georgia Tech would automatically be awarded the postseason berth, as the Yellowjackets hold precedence over the Cavaliers in a tiebreaker scenario due to their sweep of Virginia in early March.

With their backs against the wall, the Cavaliers can only play to win and hope for the best. In contests between Syracuse and Virginia, the Orange own a 5-1 all-time advantage, including a three-game sweep of Virginia last season. It was the first encounter between the two teams as conference foes, as Syracuse had only just been inaugurated into the ACC.

Now, Virginia is depending on reversing this trend of Orange victories. The Cavaliers will compete against a squad that ranks last in the conference and has accumulated only one ACC win, a victory over Pittsburgh. The Orange have dropped their last four games, and will be looking to bounce back and end their season on a positive note.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are coming off a split against Liberty in a midweek doubleheader. The Cavaliers dropped the first game 3-2 before bouncing back to claim the second game 4-2. Virginia will hope to ride the momentum of its game-two victory as it heads into the most crucial series of its season hoping to play many games beyond this weekend.

First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

—compiled by Chuck Siegel

Men’s Golf

What: ACC Championships

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Old North State Club, New London, North Carolina

The Skinny: The Virginia men’s golf team travels to New London, North Carolina this weekend to participate in the ACC tournament. The No. 28 Cavaliers — who placed fifth of 12 teams at last year’s conference championships — finished third at the 14-team Yale Spring Invitational last weekend.

Virginia outshot ACC rivals No. 43 Duke, No. 40 Virginia Tech and No. 137 Boston College at The Course at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, but conference foes No. 23 Wake Forest and No. 37 Clemson took first and second place, respectively. The Demon Deacons dominated the competition, outshooting Virginia by 29 strokes and the Tigers by 28.

Senior All-American Denny McCarthy missed the tournament because of an illness, but if he returns Friday, Virginia should have a much better chance of seizing the title. The Cavaliers are the third-highest ranked team in the ACC, trailing only Wake Forest and No. 19 North Carolina.

Sophomore Derek Bard leads Virginia with five top-10 finishes in 2014-15. McCarthy and freshman Danny Walker follow with three and two, respectively. Junior Kyle Kochevar led the Cavaliers at the Yale Spring Invitational, pocketing a career-best sixth-place individual finish as well as recording the best tournament and single-round scores of his career.

A Cavalier win would give Virginia both ACC tournament titles this season, as the women’s team captured its first-ever conference crown last weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

Men’s Tennis

What: No. 5 Virginia (20-3, 12-0 ACC) vs. Florida State (19-9, 6-6 ACC) at the ACC Championship

Where: Cary Tennis Park, Cary, North Carolina

When: Friday, 9 a.m.

The Skinny: The Virginia men’s tennis team competes at the ACC Men’s Tennis Championship this weekend at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, North Carolina. The No. 5 Cavaliers (20-3, 12-0 ACC) — the tournament’s No. 1 seed — just finished up their ninth consecutive regular season without a loss in conference play, and have won a record 136 consecutive ACC matches.

Virginia — which has not lost since falling 4-3 to top-ranked Oklahoma (22-2, 4-1 Big 12) on March 10 — enters the tournament as the prohibitive favorite. The Cavaliers have won eight consecutive ACC tourney titles, a feat topped only by North Carolina, which won nine in a row from 1970-78. Coach Brian Boland — now in his 14th season at Virginia — has led his team to a 33-3 ACC tournament record.

Quarterfinal opponent No. 8 seed Florida State downed No. 9 seed NC State Thursday morning in Cary. Virginia bested the Seminoles (19-9, 6-6 ACC) last Friday in Tallahassee, securing the doubles point and five of six singles matches. Only No. 44 junior Benjamin Lock prevailed for Florida State, defeating No. 21 senior Mitchell Frank in straight sets at No. 1 singles.

If the Cavaliers top the Seminoles, they will play a semifinal match Saturday at 10 a.m. The finals are scheduled for Sunday at the same time.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

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