Just a few weeks ago the Cavaliers were sitting pretty in the ACC standings. Leading the Coastal division, 4-1 in ACC series on the season, and ranked in the top 5 of most polls.
Since then, the Hoos have struggled dropping their last three series to Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Duke, have fallen to a game and a half behind Duke in the Coastal, and No. 21 in this week’s D1Baseball poll. Most prognosticators have UVA on the outside looking in in terms of regional hosts for next month’s NCAA Tournament.
With six ACC games left to play and a still strong RPI ranking at 13, UVA still has a chance to bolster its resume and possibly win the Coastal division after all.
This week, they’ll host Louisville in the final ACC series in Charlottesville.
Coming in to 2023, most considered Louisville a contender if not a favorite to win the ACC. D1Baseball pegged them at No. 16 in the preseason poll.
But the season has not gone according to plan and the Cardinals currently sit at 29-19 overall with just a 9-15 ACC record having only won two ACC series all season.
Despite a strong pitching staff, the offensive production has been average. With a .285 team average, they rank 8th in the conference, and their .389 on base percentage is better than just four other teams in the ACC. Despite the lackluster team numbers, the Cardinals’ catcher, Jack Payton, is one of the best hitters in the country with a .383 average. He leads Louisville in average, slugging (.678), OPS (1.167), hits (57), and is second on the team with 36 RBI and 11 home runs.
What the Cardinals lack in offensive production, they make up for with their pitching staff that features a 4.06 ERA, which is good for 4th in the ACC, and a .238 opponent batting average. The two starting pitchers Louisville has announced for this weekend, Ryan Hawks and Carson Liggett, have combined for a 12-2 record and feature a 3.93 and 2.31 ERA respectively. The back half of the Cardinals staff is where UVA will have to take advantage as most relievers will have ERAs in the 4s. If UVA can get past Hawks and Liggett to the Louisville bullpen, it will be a good sign for the weekend.
UVA needs to get off the mat and make a statement this weekend. They have the undefeated out of conference record to rely on, but need to show the first half of the ACC season was no fluke.