The Virginia baseball team is coming off the best season in program history, winning a school-record 56 games, and coming up one win shy of the championship round of the College World Series.
But the Cavaliers will have a much different look this season, as the pitching staff which sported the best ERA in the nation last season loses its top four starters.
Head coach Brian O'Connor says, "We have quite a bit of turnover, but that's what the professional draft does to college baseball programs."
Junior pitcher Branden Kline says, "When we first got here in the fall, I was looking around the locker room, going, 'I don't know you, I don't know you, I don't know you,' and then being like, 'There's one I actually do know.'"
Kline tied the school record with 18 saves as a closer last year, but will move out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation as the ace of the staff this year.
"All the guys that left, I learned a lot from them," says Kline, "like Danny, and Tyler, and Will."
The changing of the guard will open up a lot of opportunities for first-year players, and veterans who have been waiting for their chance to take the diamond at Davenport Field.
Junior infielder Stephen Bruno says, "Some of us are rookies on field, but we have three years of veteran experience to step in, and not have that worry or nervousness that some rookies may have."
Shortstop Chris Taylor adds, "There's no question we lost a lot of great players last year, but we have a lot of great players coming in too."
Freshman Derrick Fisher says, "Being able to pick their brain about virtually anything: school, baseball, just curious questions. The older guys, the veterans, make this transition a lot easier."
The Cavaliers are ranked 17th in the nation in the preseason coaches poll, and will open up the season Friday in South Carolina against Boston College.
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