The USF baseball team is coming off its first sweep of the season and will have an opportunity to extend the streak to four games when it travels to Daytona to play Bethune-Cookman, which has won only three games.
Despite losing 12 of its first 13 games, Bethune-Cookman (4-13) took two of three in its most recent series against North Carolina Central.
Junior pitcher Ryan Valdes, who is in his first year with the team, will start for USF (9-6-1) when the teams play at 6 tonight.
Valdes played his first two years of collegiate baseball at State College of Florida in Sarasota. The right-hander has appeared in seven games for the Bulls, posting a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings.
He has started two games so far, giving up two runs on five hits in five innings at No. 19 Florida State in his most recent start March 4. He exited the game with a lead, but the bullpen could not hold it, and the Bulls lost 7-3.
Valdes will be backed up by the two hitters at the top of the Bulls’ lineup, freshman Kevin Merrell and junior Kyle Teaf. As the first and second batters in the lineup, the two lead the team in batting average, with Merrell batting .292 and Teaf hitting .273.
Teaf has been on a recent tear, batting .389 over the last five games. The shortstop is also on a 15-game on-base streak.
The Wildcats have struggled on the mound, with a team ERA of 5.41, but have had success at the plate. Five players are batting over .290 and have accounted for 45.5 percent of the team’s hits.
Sophomore Zach Olszewski and junior Nathan Bond lead Bethune-Cookman’s offense, batting .367 and .333, respectively.
Following the one-game series, USF will return for a five-game home stand, which will begin with a three-game series against FAMU on Friday at 6:30 p.m.