5P Primer: Virginia
An old coach used to always hammer the 5 "Ps": Prior planning prevents poor performance. Not just a fancy slogan that gets a High School football coach/Driver's Ed instructor through the day; it's also a good way to know what to expect from upcoming Auburn opponents. Here's your 5 "Ps" for Auburn's next opponent: The University of Virginia
The University of Virginia. Call them the Hoos. You might know them as the Cavaliers or "Cavs" but the go-to nickname and one that gets bandied about the Baseball team is the Hoos. Short for Wahoos. The origin is actually steeped in the baseball history:
What Is A Wahoo?
The most prominent and widely accepted nicknames of Virginia athletic teams are "Cavaliers", "Wahoos", and "Hoos".
Legend has it that Washington and Lee baseball fans dubbed the Virginia players "Wahoos" during the fiercely contested rivalry that existed between the two in-state schools in the 1890's. No doubt this was a reference to the carp of the same name found in the waters of Virginia which is capable of retaining a prodigious amount of liquid to increase its size and fend off enemies. By 1940 "Wahoos" was in general use around the grounds (campus).
Today the University faithful or "Hoos" for short, embrace and celebrate the "Wahoos" spirited capacity to prevail as their athletic teams continue the proud tradition of success and achievement at UVA.
Basically it's a frat-boy fish. One that drinks twice it's body weight and uses the "added" liquid to fend off enemies. Still, it's a nice tie from UVA to Auburn. Today, think of "Hoos as their version of Auburn's Plainsman.
The Hoos have a bit of nice MLB 3B talent, too. Mark Reynolds and Ryan Zimmerman.
UVA comes into this weekend ranked pretty his in all polls. 15 in Baseball America, 17 in Collegiate Baseball, 13 in the NCBWA, and 14 in USA Today/ESPN. They are also a pretty good lock to host a Regional.
Last year was a banner year for UVA. The Hoos went 51-14 and set a school record for wins. They won the ACC Coastal, won their Regional, and advanced to Super Regional. All that success was thanks to a school record 9 players that were selected in the 2010 MLB Draft. RHP Tyler Wilson and C Kenny Swab decided to return. So yeah, these guys are good.
Overall, Auburn holds a 9-3 Edge in the Series and has won the last four meetings. The last time the two met was in 1988 when Auburn won 13-8.
There's one name you need to know when it comes to Virginia. Danny Hultzen. The guy is a complete stud. 1st Team All-American from each of the major polls. The Junior LHP is the ACC Pitcher of the Year and posted an 11-1 Record with a 2.78 ERA in 2010. He led the ACC with 11 wins and 123 Strikeouts. Thankfully though, Auburn will miss him this weekend. He's pitching today (Friday) in his normal spot. The only space we may see him is if he grabs a bat, where Superman becomes a bit more human ).281 ave, 0 HR, 10 RBI).
Instead, Auburn will focus on Tyler Wilson. A RHP who is moving into the rotation after 51 consecutive relief appearances. He's made 3 career starts but his last one came in 2009. Wilson was a Reds draft pick and has a bit of overpowering stuff. He has an 8-4 Record with a 3.41 ERA last year.
Fans expecting fireworks might want to stay at home. This is going to be a low scoring game on Saturday. UVA has one of the best pitching staffs in the nation and led the NCAA in ERA the past six years. UVA returns 5 position starters and 10 pitchers who saw action last year. The bullpen is solid and their only question is at closer. The Offense isn't a powerful attack but the get on base and they are peppered with experience. They only bit of breaking in they will have to do is in the middle infield. Stephen Bruno (SS), Chris Taylor (DH/SS)and Reed Gragnani (IF/OF) were groomed last year to take over their respective roles in 2011. The strategy is simple. Be patient and let Wilson work his pitch count up. Manufacture runs in the early innings and hope for an explosion later. Defensively, this will be a huge test for Auburn. UVA puts a lot of pressure on pitchers with motion and steals. Any error on Saturday will be costly.
The Hoos are going to be the toughest team Auburn faces for a couple weeks. A win and it's time to rev up the prediction train with the hope caboose early. A loss? It's not the end of the world. I'm going to say UVA will take this game but Auburn will make it close.