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Cavalier Weekend Preview: Monmouth

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

After two straight weekends of playing teams that could compete in June, the Cavaliers take their foot a bit off the gas this weekend when Monmouth comes to town.

That is not to say the Hawks should not compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Monmouth is projected to finish in the top 3 of the MAAC, but have not been to a regional since 2009.

The Cavaliers do not have too much of a history with Monmouth having only played the Hawks 6 times in program history, but all six of those matchups have come during the Brian O'Connor era in Charlottesville with UVa winning all 6. The most recent series came in 2014 and saw UVa score 5 or more runs in each and hold Monmouth to 3 or fewer.

This season, Monmouth is off to a disappointing 2-5 start, although they do have a opening night win over Penn State and a Friday night win last week over UNC Asheville.

On the mound, Monmouth will feature Anthony Ciavarella, who d1baseball tabbed as the best prospect in the MAAC entering the season. Ciavarella has not quite lived up to that billing thus far this season posting a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 innings over two starts. The surprise on the mound would certainly have to be their Friday night starter, Frank Trimarco. The short lefty has started both games Monmouth has won on the season and is the only starter to hold opposing batters to under a .300 average.

For Monmouth to make any sort of run this season they'll also need to improve at the plate. The Hawks hit just .248 as a team last year and are batting just .220 this season. Seemingly the lone bright spot would be Sr. outfielder Christian Holland who has hit .296 on the season and features a .444 slugging percentage thanks to two doubles and a triple early in the season.

Perhaps the best news for UVa is who Monmouth has already played. The Hawks played Army during the first weekend of the season and lost 5-6 to the Cadets. While that might not seem like much, former Cavalier SS Tyler Cannon is currently an assistant at West Point and likely shared some quality information with Coach Mac and the rest of the staff.

First pitch on Friday is at 3, while Saturday and Sunday start a little earlier at 1.