CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia baseball team opens its 2008 season this weekend, playing host to Lehigh at Davenport Field. The teams are scheduled to start the series at 4 p.m. Friday, followed by a noon doubleheader Saturday and a single game at noon Sunday. The series marks a busy start to the season, as the Cavaliers will play 10 home games in 10 days.
On Friday, parking will be limited to the cage and south University Hall parking lots because of the Van Halen concert at John Paul Jones Arena that night. Saturday, parking will be available in the University Hall and John Paul Jones Arena surface lots. Sunday, parking will be limited to the Emmet/Ivy Garage because of the men’s basketball game vs. NC State that afternoon. No parking will be available Sunday in the University Hall lots.
General Admission tickets are available for the games and are $7 for adults and $5 for youth, seniors, faculty and staff. One ticket gains admission to both games of the doubleheader. Tickets may be purchased by logging on to VirginiaSports.com or by calling the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 542-8821. Fans also may purchase tickets at the ticket booth at Davenport Field beginning two hours prior to the first game each day.
Virginia returns 15 letterwinners from the 2007 team and welcomes 16 newcomers, including 14 freshmen. The Cavaliers’ pitching staff again figures to be strong after losing just three key hurlers from last year’s team which posted the third-best ERA in the nation (2.81). UVa also returns the nucleus of its infield (David Adams, Tyler Cannon, Jeremy Farrell, Greg Miclat and Patrick Wingfield).
The outfield is a big question mark after all five outfielders from last year graduated or were selected in the MLB draft. Freshmen David Coleman, Jarrett Parker, John Barr and Dan Grovatt are in the mix to fill those holes, while Wingfield, freshman infielder Phil Gosselin and redshirt freshman Mark Riffee also could see time in the outfield.
UVa also will have a new catcher after losing both of its experienced backstops. Notre Dame transfer Ryan Smith and junior college transfer Franco Valdes are battling for a starting slot. Cannon also has spent time learning the position and will see some time there as well.
Virginia went 45-16 last season and finished second in the ACC Coastal Division with a 19-9 mark. The Cavaliers earned their fourth-consecutive NCAA tournament bid and played host to their third NCAA regional before succumbing to eventual NCAA champion Oregon State in the regional final.
Junior right hander Jacob Thompson and Adams have raked in several preseason honors. Both were named to the preseason Louisville Slugger All-America squad, with Thompson nabbing first-team honors and Adams taking third-team laurels, and both were named to the second team of Baseball America’s preseason All-America team. They also are both on the watch lists for the Brooks Wallace and Golden Spikes awards. Thompson also was a first-team NCBWA Preseason All-American.
Thompson, scheduled to start Friday, was a unanimous First-Team All-American last year and also earned First-Team All-ACC honors. He capped off his banner season by competing for the United States National Team at the Pan American Games, where he won a silver medal.
Virginia continues its homestand Tuesday, facing Coppin State at 4 p.m. The Cavaliers then will play Old Dominion at 4 p.m. Wednesday.