For coach Eddie Cardieri, the baseball season can’t start soon enough.
After countless inter-squad games, the USF baseball team opens the season tonight against East Tennessee State. The teams will play a three game series with two other games on Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re ready to go,” Cardieri said. “We’re tired of inter-squad games, and we’re ready to play.”
Going into the games this weekend, Cardieri said that he is not worried about the opponent but about how his team performs.
“The thing is we want our guys to go out and play a good game of baseball,” Cardieri said. “Regardless of who our opponent is, we want to play well because we feel like if we pitch it good and catch it good and hit it good, then we can win against anybody we are playing.”
Whether or not they will be able to “pitch it good” is still in question, however. The bulls are returning only two pitchers who started at least one game last season, none of whom will start this weekend. Cardieri said Georgia Tech transfer Kyle Schmidt will get the nod in tonight’s opener. Schmidt is coming off an encouraging summer in the Cape Cod league where he managed 63 strikeouts in 48 innings with a 0.55 ERA.
Freshman Casey Hudspeth will start Saturday afternoon. The 6-foot right-hander out of Sarasota high school brings a low-90s fastball and a mean curveball to the mound. Sunday’s start will go to freshman southpaw Nick Managanaro. Cardieri said if his pitchers perform like they have been taught, the Bulls should win.
“If pitchers, no matter who they are facing, command the outside corner, get a breaking ball over for a strike and then go inside once in a while when they need to, they can beat anybody,” Cardieri said.
He added, “The first series is always getting the guys feet on the ground. We have to start getting a more solid starting lineup, and this first series is kind of important to get everybody’s feet wet.”
Softball teams braces for weekend tourney
The USF softball team is in for a tough weekend at the USF-Wilson Tournament at the USF softball complex, as three of the Bulls’ five games in the tournament will be against teams that made last year’s NCAA tournament.
Michigan State, Florida and Hofstra each made the NCAA Regional last year. Seton Hall finished with a 37-14 record, while Jacksonville went 22-33 in its first season.
The Bulls own the all-time series edge against every team but the Gators in this tournament, but USF defeated Florida 2-1 last weekend at the GRU-Classic in Gainesville.
The Bulls are off to their second-best start under Coach Ken Eriksen and are riding a seven-game winning streak after a perfect 5-0 mark last weekend.
Adam Adkins contributed to this report