With a lineup full of fresh faces, the USF baseball team has struggled to find consistency on offense in the first half of the season.
The Bulls are averaging just over four and a half runs per game, but have been held to three runs or less in 13 of their 29 games.
What success USF has had at the plate this year can be credited in part to the power of a pair of freshmen: third baseman David Villar and left fielder Chris Chatfield.
The Bulls finished 2015 with four players hitting at least .290, but Villar is the lone Bull to accomplish that feat thus far. Aside from hitting for average, Villar also leads USF in runs (19), doubles (8), and trails only Chatfield in RBI (14).
The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Villar began playing varsity baseball in eighth grade and was a first-team all-county player in his junior and senior seasons at American Heritage High School.
Unlike Villar, Chatfield has had trouble getting on base at times, sporting a .226 batting average, the worst of any regular starter. But for what the 6-foot-3, 194-pound Chatfield lacks in average, he’s more than made up for in power.
Needing only two more home runs to tie last year’s leader at nine, Chatfield has been a constant threat to change the game with one swing of the bat. As a by-product of his seven homers, he also leads the team in RBI with 20.
After being honored as a first-team all-county player in his senior season at Spoto High School for hitting .441 with 25 RBIs, Chatfield was drafted in the 23rd round on the MLB draft by the San Diego Padres.
Nearly halfway through the season, the two have combined for 10 homers, roughly a third of the 32 hit by the team last season.
If Tuesday’s 5-1 loss against Stetson is any indication of things to come, the Bulls will need Villar and Chatfield to build on their early success to catalyze a young lineup featuring seven newcomers at times.
USF (15-14) and its freshmen duo will look to rejuvenate its offense Friday when the Bulls begin a three-game series against Memphis at the USF Baseball Stadium.