Just a day away from Virginia Baseball’s 2023 season, the anticipation of another successful effort can be felt around Grounds. The Cavaliers’ Division I preseason ranking of 19 cements them as one of seven ACC teams ranked within the top 25. The Hoos are set to take on the Navy Midshipmen tomorrow, Friday, February 17th to open the season. The Cavaliers start at home at Disheroon Park, the game moved from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, a neutral site hosting the Hughes Bros. Challenge Tournament. Games against UNC-Wilmington and Ohio University are to follow, closing out the weekend.
Cavalier faithful have plenty to be excited for this season. Returning for his twentieth year is the club’s manager, Brian O’Connor. Proving his successful managerial practices over the past two decades, O’Connor led the team to supreme victory in Omaha in 2015, capturing the World Series Title. After a heartbreaking World Series loss in 2021 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and a disappointing end to the 2022 effort, fans of Virginia baseball are hoping for some magic – and flashes of talent – to lead the Hoos back to the top.
Some new faces have made it to the Virginia lineup this season. Aidan Teel, brother of standout catcher Kyle Teel, comes to the roster as a RHP and utility man. 6 foot 4 inch Freshman Kevin Jaxel ranked the number 65 RHP in the county prior to committing to the Hoos. Jack O’Connor (no relation to Brian O’Connor) promises to do good work for the Cavaliers, ranked the No. 1 RHP in Virginia and the No. 2 overall player during his high school career.
Familiar names can also be found on the roster this season, spearheaded by Junior Jake Gelof. Earning Second Team All-America honors from ABCA/Rawlings, Gelof carried the Cavalier offense through the 2022 season. Slashing 21 home runs, batting .377, and starting all 58 games last season, look for Gelof to be Virginia’s ironman once again. Two-sport standout Jay Wolfolk will hang up the football pads for the next few months and dig in at the mound. Wolfolk fanned 55 batters in 37.2 innings pitched last season, earning him Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
The offensive prowess of the Hoos carried over from last year, coupled with the new names in the pitching rotation have Virginia baseball fans excited for the start of the 2023 season. The Hoos will have to dig in deep for a three game series at UNC in mid-March followed by a weekend matchup at N.C. State. Florida State comes to Charlottesville on March 24 for a three game series followed by the annual Commonwealth Clash against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Hoos enjoy an extended homestand in April, taking on Richmond, Mount St. Mary’s, Pitt, Miami, and Duke. ACC rivals Georgia Tech host the Cavaliers to close out the regular season in Atlanta. The ACC Tournament kicks off shortly after on May 23. If all goes well, the Hoos will be Omaha Bound once again and make a run for another title.
With a promising roster and manageable schedule, the upcoming season looks bright as we hope for a return to form for the Cavaliers.