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UVa Baseball Hosts 12th Annual 'Step Up To The Plate' Fundraiser - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVa Baseball Hosts 12th Annual 'Step Up To The Plate' Fundraiser

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2006 ACC Player of the Year Sean Doolittle 2006 ACC Player of the Year Sean Doolittle

The UVa baseball team will start the season in a couple weeks as the #1 ranked team in America.

The team hosted its 12th annual 'Step Up To The Plate' fundraiser Friday at John Paul Jones Arena, and the event has gotten bigger each year.

The UVa baseball players signed autographs for the hundreds of fans in attendance, and lots of sports memorabilia was also auctioned off. 

The guest speaker this year was Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Farrell led the Sox to a World Series Championship last year in his first season as manager in Boston.

Farrell says, "To do it in a year where there was tragedy off the field and so much success on the field, how our team was able to bond with the city and our fans in a really unique way, just a special 2013."

Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor says, "He has an opportunity tonight to impart among our players and fans some great words of wisdom, someone who was a college baseball player, someone who played 13 years of college baseball, was a college coach, and now a World Series champion manager.  There's a lot of great baseball insight there."

John Farrell's son Jeremy played for Virginia from 2005-2008.

Former Cavalier and current Oakland A's pitcher Sean Doolittle was also at the event.

Doolittle was drafted in 2007 by Oakland, and has become a very solid middle-relief pitcher for the A's.

The lefty struck out 120 big-league batters in the last two seasons.

Doolittle says, "For me I've been in the league 2 years and both years we won the division so I realize how spoiled I am its not lost on me how incredible that is."

Doolittle had a great career at UVa where he both pitched and played in the field.  

He was a two-time All-American, and was named ACC Player of the Year in 2006.

"Going up to the facilities today and seeing all the changes that have been made to the stadium since I've played here, it's really exciting," says Doolittle.  "Both are really good examples of how this program has just continued to grow under coach O'Connor and his staff. I heard they're on like the third version of that scoreboard. They've got all the video cameras. The weight room underneath. The training room, the locker room, it's amazing."

UVa head coach Brian O'Connor says, "He's a great example of perseverance. We want our players to have that kind of perseverance. The fact that he came up as a hitter and had some injuries and turned himself back into a pitcher and is having a nice major league career. "

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