Pitching carrying USF baseball’s hot start


With a 22-3 record, USF is off to its best start in school history.

The hot start stems partly from the Bulls' dominance on the mound, with USF pitchers producing stats in 2017 that are comparable to those of the highest-ranked teams in the nation.

Thus far in the season, the Bulls rank in the top 10 in four different pitching categories – ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio and strikeouts per nine innings.

With starters Phoenix Sanders and Shane McClanahan leading the way, the Bulls collect more strikeouts per nine innings than any other team in the country, averaging 11.3 per game.

Sanders, by himself, records an average of 13.15 strikeouts per game, putting him at No. 16 in the nation individually, with McClanahan not far behind in 24th.

“He throws a lot of pitches for strikes and that’s what makes him what he is,” coach Mark Kingston said after a March 17 win against Harvard. “He’s not scared to compete, and he’ll throw any pitch to anybody.”

To go along with the strikeouts, the Bulls are consistently keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard.

Allowing an average of 2.05 earned runs per game, the Bulls have the second lowest ERA in Division I baseball, with No. 1 overall Oregon State being the only team ahead of them.

The low ERA has been the biggest improvement for the Bulls' pitching staff from last season, where the Bulls allowed an average of 4.43 runs per nine innings pitched, which ranked 126th in the country.

Despite the phenomenal pitching from the Bull, USF, for the most part, is on the fringe of the most recent rankings.

Of the five rankings listed on NCAA.com, the Bulls are only ranked in the top 25 of the RPI rankings at 15, and 25th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s poll.

Despite what the rankings read, the Bulls aren’t too concerned.

“We just take each game one game at a time,” USF starter Ryan Valdes said after defeating Jacksonville. “We’re not worried about a streak, or what the rankings say. We’re focused on the next game.”