UVa Baseball Opens Practice with the 'Best Performance in 15 Years'

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The thirteen UVa freshman sang 'The Good Old Song' before the start of practice on Friday The thirteen UVa freshman sang 'The Good Old Song' before the start of practice on Friday
Brian O'Connor is in his 16th season at UVa Brian O'Connor is in his 16th season at UVa
Sophomore outfielder Alex Tappen Sophomore outfielder Alex Tappen
Senior outfielder Cam Simmons Senior outfielder Cam Simmons
Sophomore shortstop Tanner Morris Sophomore shortstop Tanner Morris

The Virginia baseball team has thirteen true freshman on the roster this year, and before the start of the first official practice of the season on Friday, head coach Brian O'Connor had the rookies serenade their teammates with 'The Good Old Song.'

"Wow, that's the best in fifteen years!" head coach Brian O'Connor exclaimed after the performance.

The first-year players will be expected to make an impact in the box score this season.

"I was in their position last year, coming in with a head full of steam," says sophomore outfielder Alex Tappen.  "It kind of starts off as a blur."

Tappen started every game for UVa as a freshman last season, and led the team with thirteen doubles, while Tanner Morris was second on the team with a .298 batting average in his first season of college baseball.   

Outfielder Cam Simmons says, "Those two guys are going to be some of the most important players on our team this year.  I think they're ready to make that jump, kind of like I did from my freshman year to my second year."

Simmons missed all of his junior season with a shoulder injury, but he's ready to make an impact this year.

"I don't really set too many expectations, I just want to win," says Simmons.  "I think I'm going to have a good year.  Just do whatever I can to help the team win.  Build off what I built my first two years, and show everyone I'm the same person I was before I got hurt."

Head coach Brian O'Connor says, "He's got the most experience out of anybody in our lineup, from an at-bat standpoint.  From power, from having experience hitting in the middle of our lineup.  I think he'll make a huge impact for us, offensively."

Virginia did not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in Brian O'Connor's tenure last season, and they begin this year unranked.

Junior pitcher Noah Murdock says, "Keeping the expectation standard of being a powerhouse in the nation is what we're building off of, so coming in this year and continuing the legacy that the teams before us has left is kind of important to us."

O'Connor adds,  "We're just focused on getting better, and we know that the teams that are typically ranked are teams that return a lot from the year before.  We've got a great challenge in front of us, and we're looking forward to it."

UVa begins the season on February 15-17 at the MLB Collegiate 4 Baseball Tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Cavaliers will play Vanderbilt, TCU, and Cal State Fullerton at the Arizona Diamondbacks spring training facility.