Sunday, February 15, 2015

Strong start for Wofford baseball a sign of the times

The temperature may have dipped into the low thirties; the biting winds may have brought shuddering effects. For a select few, though, that braved the elements at Russell C. King Field for Wofford baseball's season-opening weekend slate, there was a decided hint of assurance that this program is back in full force.

As recent as two years ago, however, it wasn't necessarily a pretty sight. Wofford failed to notch ten league victories in every season from 2008-2013, and in all but the 2008 campaign were sternly denied a bid to the conference tournament in Charleston. That's a postseason drought of five consecutive seasons; in each, the Terriers averaged a SoCon record of 9-21. 

Last season, though, it became quite apparent that things were turning around in Spartanburg. With a 32-28 overall record and 12-14 league mark, Todd Interdonato's squad became the first outfit from the school to finish with a winning record since 1992 -- a good twenty-three years ago. The Terriers capped off the campaign with a decent run into the SoCon tournament, posting a 2-2 mark.

One of the mainsprings of last year's squad, closer Will Stillman, has already proven himself as a game-changer this season. The Matthews, N.C., native earned the save in both of his appearances this weekend, in the come-from-behind triumphs over Boston College and Dayton. In the ninth against the latter opponent, he retired the side with relative ease, effectively sealing a Terrier comeback from three runs down.

Freshman Adam Scott made his collegiate debut this afternoon, hurling seventy pitches and giving up five runs on seven hits in his three innings of work. Connell Anderson took over for the next two-and-a-half innings, in which the right-hander recorded four strikeouts. Connor Foltyn and Elliot Lance each faced a batter, while Spencer Kulman came into pitch the seventh and eighth innings. The sophomore from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., earned the win and directly preceded Stillman's appearance.

The previous day, starter Luke Leftwich earned the win in five innings of work, while just one reliever, sophomore John Caskey, followed behind. Both pitchers struck out nine Xavier batters, and Caskey gave up only two hits, both of them singles.

On the other side of things, Wofford's timely batting power has led them to several comebacks already this season. The Terriers have already hit fifteen doubles this season, along with three homers, all of which came in the 11-3 rout of Xavier. One good example of a player making a difference on multiple fronts is undoubtedly catcher Carson Waln, who has displayed a talented approach from both behind and at the plate.

All in all, the Terriers stand at a proud 3-0 on the season, a hard-fought mark achieved by skill, determination, and smart play. Once again, things are looking up in Spartanburg.

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