After two wins at Charlotte Friday and Saturday, the USF baseball team’s confidence didn’t need much of a boost before facing the Army Black Knights tonight at 7 at Red McEwen Field.
The Bulls (13-6) will get an additional confidence boost by knowing that the Black Knights have had to deal with numerous cancellations and a young team.
The majority of Army’s team consists of underclassman. In fact, there are only one junior and one senior on the roster. Last year’s team consisted mostly of seniors, who have left and made a void in the roster.
The Black Knights (1-3) cannot get the sophomores the experience they need because they’ve had six games this season canceled due to weather.
Their first three games were canceled, and last week’s series against St. Joseph’s was canceled as well.
“(Missing games) disrupts continuity,” USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. “It isn’t good for baseball.”
Army is a non-conference opponent for USF (the Black Knights are a Conference USA member in football only), but every non-conference game counts in case an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament is needed.
The Bulls are well aware that winning the C-USA title would get them an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, because the last two seasons they reached the NCAAs through an at-large bid.
Cardieri is pleased with his team’s pitching, and knows that they will need it if their hitting ever goes into a slump.
Despite the pitching satisfaction, Cardieri wants to see his team become more consistent defensively. He said he feels as they are committing more errors than they should.
“(Shortstop) Myron (Leslie) is good. (third baseman Jeff) Baisley is good.They just have to calm down and make plays,” Cardieri said. Pitcher David Austen will start tonight for the Bulls since he did not get a chance to pitch in Charlotte due to a rain cancellation. Austen is 4-0 with seven starts; he has 41 strikeouts and has allowed only 15 runs.
Chris Wagenheim covers USF baseball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org