FACT:’Canes look poised to make late season run
Here we go again! It’s South Florida sports, nothing less would be expected. And, I’m not talking about the sports teams or individual players; I am talking about the fans.
The season isn’t even over yet, but like typical South Florida fans, people are jumping ship on the University of Miami baseball team. When will people learn?
Everyone is too bogged down by the team’s record. The Hurricanes are currently 25-17. Although this isn’t the world’s best record, it’s not a record that yells, “IT’S ALL OVER.” Last season’s team, which made an unexpected run at the College World Series, was only slightly better at this point in the season, at 27-15.
Granted, the Hurricanes have underperformed, but to think that this team doesn’t have what it takes to make another run to Omaha is absurd! This is a team that was ranked No. 2 by Baseball America coming into this season. This is a team loaded with talent, through and through. This is a team that simply started off slow, got hit by a couple injuries and is now healthy and poised to make a run.
The Hurricanes just got back second baseman Jemile Weeks and, the ace of their rotation, Eric Erickson. Weeks has not played to par thus far this season, but one must expect that a player of Weeks’ caliber will turn it on, similar to the way he turned it on for the stretch run last season.
Additionally, the sophomore duo of Yonder Alonso and Blake Tekotte, as well as freshman Mark Sobolewski, are playing phenomenal baseball. All three are batting over .300, while remaining three of the team’s top four RBI guys. Add in the expected resurgence of Weeks and the power numbers sophomore Dennis Raben has put up, and the ‘Canes feature a formidable lineup that could give any opposing pitching staff fits.
In terms of pitching, yes the Hurricanes have struggled this season, but they seam to be getting things together. The starting pitchers seem to be getting into their own, and the bullpen is starting to come around. With Erickson and junior Enrique Garcia, the Hurricanes have a lethal one-two punch. If junior Scott Maine performs anywhere close to pre-season expectations, he could give the Hurricanes a rotation to be reckoned with.
Raben and sophomore Jason Santana have been strong out of the bullpen, but there is no question that others, specifically David Gutierrez and Danny Gil, must step up.
This is where the Hurricanes stand with a little less than one month left in the season. Their record might not be where everyone expected it to be, but the players on the field remain the same-talented, resilient and battle tested (especially since the ACC is arguably the most lethal baseball conference in the NCAA).
A series sweep against Virginia Tech was exactly what the doctor ordered. This gives the Hurricanes some momentum, and as we all know, momentum is god when making those late season runs.
For all those that still say the Hurricanes can’t do it, think again. We live in an area where the Florida Marlins have two World Series titles in seven years, the 1972 Dolphins went undefeated, Hurricane football won five national titles within 20 years and the Miami Heat defied odds to win it all. As the Adidas ad states, “Impossible is nothing!” Despite my efforts, though, for all those who are still dead set on jumping ship, I hope you can swim, because this ship is headed to Omaha!
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FICTION: An inconvenient truth; don’t bet on Omaha
Ever since last June, when the University of Miami was eliminated from the 2006 College World Series, I told friends to wait until the spring. When football disappointed every ‘Cane fan, I said, “Wait until the spring.” When basketball was crippled by injuries and suspensions, I said, “Wait until the spring.” Well, spring has come, and it appears all I waited for was more frustration.
I was eagerly anticipating baseball’s return to Coral Gables, Fla. fueled by Baseball America ranking the ‘Canes No. 2 in the nation. The hope that was created by last year’s improbable run to the CWS was promptly shattered after a two-game sweep by Mercer in January-a team the ‘Canes had lost to once in 28 meetings. If not for a rainout on a travel day, it probably would have been a three-game sweep.
More disappointment followed, capped off by an absolute debacle against North Carolina State two weekends ago. The coup de gr