Hurricanes return 2 starting pitchers in 2016 season

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Freshman third basemen Romy Gonzalez (10) passes a ball to senior pitcher Thomas Woodrey (43) for him to sign during the Fan Fest celebration at Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Stadium Saturday afternoon. Evelyn Choi // Staff Photographer

Freshman third basemen Romy Gonzalez (10) passes a ball to senior pitcher Thomas Woodrey (43) for him to sign during the Fan Fest celebration at Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Stadium Saturday afternoon. Evelyn Choi // Staff Photographer

Last year, the Hurricanes ranked No. 4 in the ACC in earned run average (ERA) with a team average of 3.15. A large part of that success can be attributed to the Canes’ starting pitchers from a season ago. When the Hurricanes take the mound for the first time this weekend, the team will feature two of last year’s starting pitchers, senior Thomas Woodrey and junior Danny Garcia.

Last year’s ace, Andy Suarez, was taken with the 61st pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. The Canes planned to bring back senior Enrique Sosa, but he tore a ligament in his pitching shoulder during the off-season and is out indefinitely. Sophomore Michael Mediavilla and either freshman Andrew Cabezas or sophomore Jesse Lepore, who are in the middle of a heated position battle, will fill the remaining two starting pitcher positions.

Woodrey is expected to be the Canes’ Friday-night starter this year, as he was for most of last season. Woodrey had a strong 2015 season, registering a 2.88 ERA, the lowest among the Canes’ starting pitchers, and earning second-team All-ACC honors. He consistently tossed pitches over the plate as he only walked 24 batters in 103 innings pitched. Woodrey should be able to have another strong year and finish his Hurricane career on a high note.

Mediavilla is entering his first season as a starter after finishing last year as the team’s top left-handed reliever. As a reliever, he held batters to an outstanding .187 batting average. If he can translate his success as a reliever to his newfound starting role on Saturday, he should have a strong year for the Canes.

As a sophomore, Garcia served as both the Canes’ No. 4 starting pitcher and the primary left-handed long reliever. The Miami native started 11 games for the Canes last season and made a total of 23 appearances. His top performance last year came when he struck out 11 batters in seven scoreless innings against Stetson University in March. The new Sunday starter aims to build off of a successful sophomore campaign in which he led all Miami pitchers with 80 strikeouts.

Either Cabezas or Lepore will fill the final mid-week starting position. Cabezas was drafted in the 34th round of the 2015 MLB Draft coming out of Coral Gables High, but opted to play for Miami. Lepore saw playing time in only 10 games last season.

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