Baseball Preview: Pitching
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
The Seahawks will again look to their starting rotation to spearhead another run at a conference title in 2013. UNCW starters fashioned a 3.94 ERA overall in 2012 and 3.27 against CAA opponents. The Seahawks did lose Tyler McSwain (9-4, 3.18 ERA, 15 starts), who anchored the staff as its Friday night starter, but return a combined 38 starts from 2012.
First-year assistant coach Robert Woodard inherited a pitching staff that dominated the conference and compiled 3.58 ERA against a schedule that included 11 opponents who played in the NCAA tournament.
Mat Batts, a third-team All-CAA selection in 2012, returns to the rotation along with Jordan Ramsey, who earned All-Rookie honors. The duo is joined by Blaze Tart, who missed the 2012 season following surgery during the middle of the 2011 season. Prior to his injury, Tart was the Seahawks top pitcher, moving into the starting rotation early in the schedule after opening in the closer's role and posting five saves.
The duo of Batts, who is the league's top returning ERA leader at 3.04, and Ramsey comprised two-thirds of the weekend rotation for the Seahawks, a rotation that helped post a 24-6 record, second most wins in CAA history. Ramsey allowed just one home run last season. During the summer, he gained experience pitching for Cotuit of the Cape Cod League.
In the bullpen, Ricky Holden, Kelly Secrest and William Prince return following solid sophomore seasons. Holden made a career-high 26 appearances and posted a 3-0 record and tied for the staff lead with four saves. Opponents hits just. 225 against him and at one point, Holden strung together 26 consecutive shutout innings. Secrest also set a career-best with 30 appearances and fashioned a 5-2 record and a 2.12 ERA. He struck out 45 in 51 innings and limited opponents to a meager .193 average. Rounding out the backend of the pen was Prince, who collected four saves in 21 outings, all in relief. Prince struck out 21 in 26 innings.
Also returning to the deep staff are righthander Jack Lane and southpaw Christian MacDonald. Lane appeared in 27 games for the Seahawks and went 3-0 with a 4.07 ERA. MacDonald made 14 appearances and is coming off his best fall performance in his time with the Seahawks. With his fall performance, he pushed for a spot in the starting rotation. Justin Livengood also is back for the Seahawks after giving them a lift late in the season, including a 2 1/3 inning stint of shutout baseball against Delaware in the championship game of the CAA tournament.
Sophomore righthander Ryan Mayhew made just one appearance in 2012, but like many Seahawks, was able to make the most of his summer opportunity by playing for Front Royal of the Valley League. In 15 2/3 innings, Mayhew struck out 31 batters, averaging 17.8 strikeouts per nine innings. During the Blue-Teal World Series in the fall, he served as Blue's closer and recorded four saves.
Joining the Seahawks this season are five freshmen who will have an immediate impact on what already is a deep and talented staff. Ryan Foster, Jared Gesell, William Shepley, Nick Monroe and Evan Phillips will aid the Seahawks in a multitude of ways as rookies. Foster was an All-State selection and Central Piedmont Conference Pitcher-of-the-Year twice. Gesell was a four-year starter at High Point Christian and earned All-Conference honors twice. Shepley, a southpaw, helped Salisbury Prep to a ranking of 28th nationally his senior season while going 7-0 with a 0.46 ERA. Monroe, meanwhile, finished his prep career with a pair of All-State honors and 387 strikeouts. Rounding out the newcomers is Phillips, who was drafted by Kansas City in the 2012 MLB Draft. He posted a 5-2 mark with 109 strikeouts in 61 innings for Clayton.
Tentative dates for preview on catchers/infielders - Jan. 17; Outfield - Jan. 22.