UVa baseball team set to open ACC play against Maryland - Cavalier Insider: Cavalierinsider

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UVa baseball team set to open ACC play against Maryland

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Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:00 pm | Updated: 11:49 pm, Thu Mar 7, 2013.

Nick Howard had to chuckle a little bit.

Virginia’s multi-talented baseball player finally gave up a run during Sunday’s 9-1 win over Bucknell and a reporter wanted to know what the heck happened.

“Yeah,” Howard said with a grin, “I guess I’m human.”

Finding flaws in this 2013 UVa baseball season has been a challenge.

The No. 17 Cavaliers are 12-0 with a team ERA of 1.92 and a batting average of .334. Opponents have come within three runs of them on just two occasions.

It’s been a breeze, really.

“We’ve definitely come out hot,” said Howard, the third baseman/Sunday starter who is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA. “We’ve just been executing on the mound and defensively and hitting. With our lineup, you feel pretty comfortable going on the mound knowing that you’re going to get some support.

“We’re off to a hot start and we look forward to keep it going.”

Which brings things this weekend when the Wahoos will begin the meaty part of their schedule starting with a three-game set against Maryland (9-3).

The Atlantic Coast Conference season is here. The first pitch of the conference campaign will come from Davenport Field on Saturday as part of a doubleheader. Friday's scheduled game was postponed due to poor field conditions.

“Our league is challenging every weekend,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “It’s a dogfight every weekend in this league. It’s one of the top leagues for college baseball year-in and year-out, and this year’s going to be no different.

“We’re going to have to certainly continue to play good baseball to do what we want to do in this league.”

The Cavs went 18-12 in the ACC last season, good for a second-place finish in the Coastal Division. They were 7-4-1 at this point, but eventually made their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I think they’re highly comparable,” said sophomore left fielder Derek Fisher when asked to size up lineups from this year and last. “We’re great in all the aspects this year. We came in wanting to replace the C.T.s [Chris Taylor] and the [Stephen] Brunos and all those guys. And we came in and did a great job of that.”

Virginia has four players in the ACC’s top 25 in batting (Branden Cogswell, Brandon Downes, Nate Irving and Howard) and two in the league’s top six for ERA (Howard, Brandon Waddell).

Waddell, one of Virginia's starters, is third in strikeouts with 27.

And he admits that’s not even his style.

“I’m not going to blow it past you,” said the freshman lefty. “I’m not really going to surprise you with a huge heater. I’m really there just trying to get contact that’s not good.

“My mentality isn’t to go out there and get a bunch of strikeouts in a game. It’s to get out there and get bad contact, get it to where our guys can make routine plays behind me.”

The Terrapins, who debuted at No. 30 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball News Top 30, were a preseason pick to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division. UVa took two out of three in a series in College Park last May.

Maryland is headlined by Charlie White, a .432 hitter and the ACC’s leader in stolen bases with 15.

Virginia is headlined by any number of players. Through a dozen games, the winning vibes have hit just about everybody on the roster.

“I think we’ve played a really high brand of baseball these first couple of weeks,” said first baseman Jared King. “With that said, we still obviously know we have a lot of work to do, but it’s exciting to know that every day we’re coming to the park with the idea that we still want to get better.”

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