When the Hurricanes baseball team suffered several devastating injuries to its pitching staff last season, they turned to an untested sophomore, Dan Touchet, to anchor their rotation. After impressing his coaches and teammates with his consistency and durability, Touchet locked up the No. 1 spot in the rotation and is looking to lead this year’s squad to the College World Series.
Coming out of nowhere in 2002, Touchet started 15 games for the ‘Canes and compiled a 6-2 record with an earned run average of 4.41. Despite not having much experience prior to being named the No. 1 starter last year, Touchet was not overly intimidated by the task at hand.
“Being added to the rotation last year was awesome,” Touchet said. “That was where I wanted to be all along. I just needed a chance to prove that I belonged there.”
Head coach Jim Morris was impressed with the way Touchet handled the pressure that comes with being a starting pitcher.
“Dan did very well last year when he was thrown into the No.1 role,” Morris said. “It is much different going from spot duty to being a key man in the rotation.”
Growing up in West Palm Beach, Touchet lettered all four years at Palm Beach Lakes High School. He played with Team USA in the Pan-Am Games and also saw some action with the football team.
As a freshman with the Hurricanes, Touchet did not play much, doing most of his work in long relief. A big reason for his emergence during his sophomore year was his hard work during the summer and fall. Touchet experienced a major growth process while playing in the Alaskan Summer League.
“The Alaskan league was amazing,” Touchet said. “It was unbelievable to see daylight 24 hours a day. That was where I got my work in after not playing much as a freshman. After that I was able to improve and have a great fall.”
Touchet points to last year’s regionals as his favorite college baseball experience.
“During the regionals I started two of the three games [one against FIU and one against Florida],” Touchet said. “I loved how close the games were and how intense it was.”
As far as this year’s team goes, Touchet is very impressed with how the ‘Canes are coming together as compared to the past two seasons.
“I think we are gelling more as a team this year,” he said. “In my freshman year we had more talent and last year we didn’t have what it took, but this year we are a team without superstars, just solid all-around players. We are more of a team this year.”
Touchet doesn’t have many personal goals for this season other than to lead his team to Omaha and make a run at a third national title under Jim Morris.
“I think we can go all the way this year,” Touchet said. “All we have to do is get to Omaha and then anything can happen.”
Touchet was really looking forward to last weekend’s series against San Diego State and its head coach Tony Gwynn – improving his record to 2-0 with a 6-3 win on Friday.
In his first two plus years as a pitcher for the ‘Canes, Touchet has experienced everything from being a seldom-used reliever to the leader of a rotation primed for a run for the national title. No matter what happens to the rest of the pitching staff this year, one thing Morris will be able to count on is that his No. 1 starter will continue to provide quality innings for the ‘Canes.
“I think our whole pitching staff looks solid this year,” Touchet said. “We are consistent, and that is what it is going to take to get us to Omaha.”
– Eric Kalis can be reached at email@example.com