By results, the 2018 Virginia Cavaliers’ baseball season was the most disappointing of the Brian O’Connor’s coaching tenure. The team failed to reach 30 wins or make the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Coach O’Connor.
But that’s in the rear view mirror.
On the other hand, the 2009 season was one of the most memorable for many Cavalier fans. The 2009 team gave Coach O’Connor his first ACC Tournament Championship, and the first for the program since 1996, but also made the NCAA Super Regionals and College World Series for the first time in program history. It began a run of three straight years of the team making at least the Super Regionals, and four trips to Omaha in seven years; including the 2015 NCAA Championship.
But like this 2019 team, the 2009 team was young.
Entering the season, the 2009 team had lost 13 players from the previous year to the MLB Draft, graduation, or transfer, including three and a half starters in the field (Patrick Wingfield started many games but was not a regular starter), two starting pitchers in Jacob Thompson and Patrick McAnaney, their closer in Michael Schwimer, and a few other bullpen pieces.
They had also welcomed twelve new players to the program in 2008 and added twelve more in 2009. 23 players on the 2009 Cavaliers’ roster were either in their first or second years with the program (Ryan Smith only spent the 2008 season with the team before transferring to a Division III school while John Bivens picked baseball back up in 2009 as a third year).
The starting lineup would regularly feature eight players in the first or second years in the program to go along side third year shortstop Tyler Cannon.
As for this upcoming season, although the team did not have the success last year that the 2008 team had, the roster makeup is very similar.
The 2019 team will have to replace 13 players from last year’s roster, including Daniel Lynch and Derek Casey, who each started 13 and 14 games respectively, Andy Weber, who lead the team in hitting, Jake McCarthy, and many others.
They’ll welcome 15 players who will be experiencing their first season with the program this year, combined with eight second year players to make up nearly two-thirds of the roster.
Obviously the 2009 team had a plethora of future MLB talent in John Hicks, Phil Gosselin, Jarrett Parker, and Danny Hultzen, but that could be rivaled in 2019 by Tanner Morris, Zack Gelof, Griff McGarry, and Mike Vasil.
It remains to be seen how this year’s team will mesh and handle the stress of an ACC season, but the future is bright with the Hoos this season and could be on the verge of run similar to the one we watched just a decade ago.