The team is now tasked with filling that void. Of the eight returning pitchers, sophomore Davis Kirkpatick will be sidelined for the season due to injury. Senior Reid Love will lead the staff as the likely Friday-night starter.
“I did it in junior college,” said Love about taking on a leadership role within the pitching staff. “Now it’s just going to be more of a stretch with longer games. I just prepare like I would on a Friday.”
Love had a 5-3 record with a 3.02 ERA last season, which included a complete-game shutout in Chapel Hill. He will also get chances at the plate and in the outfield.
Junior David Lucroy is a returning starter poised to take on a larger role. He made 14 appearances (12 starts) last season and posted a 2-6 record with a 4.75 earned run average. He will have to return to the form that saw him set a freshman record with 82 strikeouts.
“He has to pitch better than he did last year,” said pitching coach Dan Roszel, who is returning to the role despite a revamped coaching staff. “His freshman year was unbelievable. He was one of our better pitchers. Last year he did show times where he looked to form.”
Roszel also said that he thinks Lucroy taking the summer off to rest mentally and physically should help him going into this year.
Evan Kruczynski didn’t have a very impressive freshman campaign, but he’s shown a lot of promise in the offseason. He started in the final game in the Purple-Gold World Series. He was credited with a loss, but had a strong showing by allowing a pair of runs (one earned) on three hits in five innings of work.
Jacob Wolfe, Nick Durazo and Luke Bolka are three other returning starters that will need to step up. Roszel hopes that the three of them, as well as the incoming freshmen, will factor in somehow.
Kirk Morgan will also get a shot on the mound. Head coach Cliff Godwin said that Morgan pitched some over the summer and called Roszel begging for a shot on the mound.
“My expectations are to go out there and win. We have a good group of guys that are working hard,” said Roszel. “There are no set roles yet. In the early spring scrimmages, we’re going to see who can battle it out and who got better from the fall.”