The tradition of baseball excellence runs long and deep in the veins of the University of Miami. Bleeding orange and green is not just lip service, as players have given their heart and soul to put Hurricane baseball among the very best.
The expectations for this season do not deviate from this course, as many expect the Hurricanes to not only contend in a talented Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) but also in Omaha – home of the College Baseball World Series.
In five different preseason polls, the Hurricanes secured a top-15 ranking, as they were ranked No. 14 by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and Collegiate Baseball, No. 12 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association, No. 10 by Baseball America and No. 2 by rivals.com.
Additionally, Yonder Alonso, Dennis Raben, Blake Tekotte and Jemile Weeks were all named as preseason All-Americans by Baseball America, while Alonso and Weeks were also named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The Golden Spikes Award will be presented at the send of the season to the nation’s top player.
With all of this taken into consideration, how could expectations not be high? But then again, the expectations were similar, if not higher, going into last season, and the team was unable to live up to those expectations. Granted the team was slightly different, but in many key positions and even in terms of pitching, the team is pretty much the same.
This season’s squad has many returning players from last season. Although this could be seen as a negative, considering that these were the same players that did not make it happen last season, I do not think that it will be the case this year.
Last year pitching was an issue. This should be taken care of, as sophomore Eric Erickson, senior Enrique Garcia and freshman Chris Hernandez should be a solid 1-2-3 combo for the Canes. The team will also have John Housey, Jason Santana and Michael Rudman, who should be able to fill the 4-5 roles.
The Canes also have a lot more depth in the bullpen this season. This depth, along with a solid five man rotation, will surely be needed, as the team will be playing more games per week this season because of the shortened season.
Couple this with the preseason All-Americans that the team has at the everyday positions, and it is no wonder that this season’s Hurricane team comes in with such high expectations. Many might still be apprehensive, as they may remember images of last season’s team, but these images are also remembered by the veterans on this team, and it would be a major shock if they let last season’s woes carry into this one.
Final Verdict: Expect this team to finish in the top 15, nationally, and probably second in the ACC.
Pravin Patel may be contacted at email@example.com.