Four reasons to attend a UNCW baseball game...
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 14:02
As the calendar turns and the students of UNCW shed their light winter coats for even lighter spring coats, all eyes start to turn towards that magical time of the year.
Spring time at the beach symbolizes the very beginning of summer, something I don’t feel the need to stress the importance of. So break out those quarters for the meter and get ready to give your best Tony Stewart impression as the fighting for the 3 parking spots at Wrightsville Beach soon begins anew.
If achieving peak July-sunburn in mid-March isn’t exactly your cup of tea, don’t worry- Wilmington offers plenty of other outlets for those who want to being to thaw from all those rigid 50 degree nights.
For instance, you could check out UNCW’s baseball team. They happen to be pretty good. 2012 CAA Champs, in fact. If you’re not one to be swayed by past accolades, that’s okay too. UNCW Baseball was chosen as the 2013 Pre-season CAA Champs, and while you might consider that all bark and no bite, it is an excellent indicator of the level of play Seahawk fans should come to expect from their squad. Still not convinced? Here are four more reasons why you should head out to Brooks Field at some point this season.
UNCW Baseball is good.
UNCW students have a very active love-hate relationship with the athletic program. Love-Hate meaning that the students love to hate on UNCW athletics. It is with some legitimacy too, as the grand majority of teams have struggled in seasons of late. With a down year from the UNCW soccer program and a “wasted” year for UNCW basketball- the team is ineligible for post-season play- it has almost been a calendar year since there was sport that fans could get excited for.
That sport is baseball. UNCW finished with a 39-23 record, a good record that looks great when you see that they went 24-6 in CAA play. They have even loftier expectations this year, and are even referring to themselves as the “Omahawks,” a statement speaking to the very realistic goal of making it to the College World Series, played annually in Omaha, Nebraska.
UNCW can pitch.
These guys can throw. A brief look at last year’s CAA baseball stats will tell you that. Just because I know you guys might not want to pour through endless pages of baseball numbers in 10pt. Helvetica font, here are some stats that stand out.
3.16: That was the collective ERA of UNCW pitchers last year, 2nd in the CAA.
.260: That was the average batting average of teams hitting against UNCW, also 2nd in the CAA.
416: That is the number of strikeouts the UNCW pitching staff had last season, and yep, you guessed it- 2nd in the CAA.
UNCW also finishes either 1st or 2nd in innings pitched, (550.5) wins, (39) and runs allowed, (221) to name a few. Oh yeah, UNCW also returns three starters from last season.
The heart of their order can rake.
Talking to a UNCW pitcher the other day, he told me there was going to be a much larger emphasis on playing “small ball” this year. Gone are the days where the team will be able to wait until the 6th inning to plate five runs. Bunting, moving runners over, and playing mistake-free situational baseball are going to be what “feeds the dragon”- a popular expression among the players- this year.
With that said, the middle of the Seahawk’s order is still incredibly potent. Hitting 3rd in the order is first baseman Hunter Ridge, a patient hitter who hits for average. Hitting .340 last year, the ‘Hawks will need Ridge’s dependable consistency once again this season. Behind him hits Tyler Molinaro, the free-swinging right fielder. Molinaro hit 16 home runs last year, ranking him first in the CAA and 15th nationally. A 2013 pre-season All-American, Molinaro has already contributed greatly to this year’s campaign, hitting a 10th inning walk-off home run to give the Seahawks a victory in the opening game of their season against Kent State, a team that made it to the College World Series last year. Both will be heavily needed for offensive production as the Hawks make another run.
Brooks Field is lovely.
For spending most of its tenure as athletically irrelevant, UNCW has absolutely phenomenal athletic facilities.
Similar to its basketball-housing brother about 200 yards away, Brooks field is a true gem, and the pride of CAA Baseball fields. A stone’s throw from freshman housing, the field is easily accessible and a delight to all who watch a game there.
Bringing the family/annoying brat you’re babysitting? Brooks always has great seats available. Close to the field and protected by a large net, Brooks gives you the perception of being right on top of the action with the safety of sitting on your couch at home.
Looking for a something a little more exciting? Move on down to the bleachers on either sides of the field and sit with the students (who got in for free, might I add) and cheer with the devoted, as UNCW’s most diehard watch from the right field bleachers located right above the home dugout. Dollar hotdog days are frequent, and the weather is always nice.
A great baseball team, great weather, and $1 hot dogs. Plus, you don’t come home from a baseball game with sand all over the inside of your car.