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PETTYCORD: Evaluating Virginia baseball at the midseason mark

Checking in on the Cavaliers, who only have 22 games left in the regular season

<p>The Cavaliers need to channel the fierce energy they all had before the season began to finish out their last stretch of spring games.</p>

The Cavaliers need to channel the fierce energy they all had before the season began to finish out their last stretch of spring games.

The Virginia baseball team is just over halfway done with its regular-season slate — having played 28 games so far — and there’s a lot to reflect on. The Cavaliers are tied at an even 14-14 and their performances have been inconsistent, to say the least. As the team heads into the remainder of the season, it will be important for them to find their footing in sticky areas and maintain the pace in strong areas. 

What’s working well?

Midweek wins

The Cavaliers’ weekly schedule this season has consisted mostly of one weekday game plus a three-game weekend series. While the weekend series are crucial to a successful season, these midweek games are particularly valuable. They give Virginia more time to modify the batting queue to see who might deserve a higher spot on the weekend lineup. These one-off tilts also offer the chance to improve on mistakes from the weekend and try out new things against non-conference opponents.

This season, the Cavaliers have outscored their opponents 53-24 during midweek matchups and won six of those seven games. Before the loss to Liberty in late March, the team held a 20-game midweek win streak that went back to 2019. If Virginia can keep up the momentum in these matchups, it will have a positive impact on its confidence and fire that will, hopefully, begin to seep into the weekend.

Freshman catcher Kyle Teel

Coming into this year, Virginia fans were eagerly anticipating the debut of the team’s freshman class of 11 — including freshman catcher and infielder Kyle Teel. Teel hails from Mahwah, N.J., where he was named the No. 1 player in the state by Perfect Game and N.J. Gatorade Player of the Year in 2020.

Throughout this season, Teel has taken 70 turns at-bat, which have resulted in 22 hits and nine runs batted in. This is by far the most by any freshman on the team all year. Teel has made a huge impact on the team in each of the games he’s appeared in, and his future is undoubtedly promising. As long as Coach Brian O’Connor continues to utilize Teel’s talents to their full potential, only good things can come for the team.

What needs to be adjusted?

Establish direction

The mark of any team without clear direction is inconsistency, and this has been a characteristic trait of the Cavaliers this year. Notching wins against highly ranked teams like Georgia Tech but losing to unranked opponents like Liberty just goes to show how unpredictable the Cavaliers have been. To be a formidable team for postseason play, Virginia needs to establish a sense of direction and take advantage of its especially talented squad.

Eliminate early deficits

In some of the team’s most painful losses this year — markedly, those against Notre Dame and Florida State — the Cavaliers have tried to fight off early leads from their opponents. However, in the game they won against Florida State and other wins against teams like Towson, Virginia took that early lead for itself and ended up winning. Getting on the board quickly helps energize the team, which is exactly what Virginia needs to do throughout the rest of its games.

What’s to come?

18 conference matchups

Virginia is set to play 22 more regular season games this year — 18 of which are against ACC opponents who the team hasn’t faced yet this year. Notably, the Cavaliers will face a highly touted Louisville team in a few weeks, and a rising Virginia Tech team at the end of the month. In all these games, Virginia looks to turn its luck and increase the tally in the win column. Their first chance to do this comes Friday as the Cavaliers head to Clemson for a three-game weekend series against the Tigers.