Posted: 11:00 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014
Pitt's baseball team had a banner season last year with 42 wins. At one point in the season, the Panthers were ranked in all of the five major Top 25 polls and were starting to get quite a bit of respect nationally. The team faltered late and missed out on the NCAA Tournament, but still showed plenty of promise.
That momentum, though, has stalled a bit and the Panthers were left out of the USA Today preseason Top 25 rankings. Not only that, but Pitt didn't even garner a single vote. It's hard to believe when we're dealing with sub zero temperatures here in Pittsburgh lately, but baseball season will be here in only a few weeks.
All in all, that's not too surprising, however. Pitt was questioned last year because of their schedule in playing in the weak Big East. With the move to the ACC, it will be much harder to remain competitive. As I wrote a little big ago, the team really has a killer schedule this season.
Also, Pitt will be without some key contributors. Pitt lost starting catcher Elvin Soto and their best pitcher, Ethan Mildren, to the MLB Draft, and those are big losses.
All of that said, don't count the team out. The Panthers also have some promising position players back, including preseason All-American, Casey Roche. Roche made the All Big East First Team last season and also back are all of the team's five Second Team selections, including Wotherspoon, Aldenhoven, Steven Shelinsky, Boo Vazquez, and Stephen Vranka. Shelinsky, in particular, led the conference in home runs last season, while batting over .300. Lots to like on the current team.
Six ACC programs made the Top 25, and Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State were all in the top ten.