The University of Virginia has yet to win a national title in college baseball, but that very well could change if the Cavaliers meet expectations in 2014, as they enter the season as the nation’s top-ranked team in the Perfect Game Preseason College Top 25.
The Cavaliers enter the spring with a strong mix of production and experience. The Hoos have an exceptional outfield with Derek Fisher and Brandon Downes leading the charge, while first baseman Mike Papi and shortstop Branden Cogswell spearhead the infield. On the mound, the Cavaliers will have a stout weekend rotation with rising junior Nick Howard, and talented sophomores Brandon Waddell and Nathan Kirby leading the way, while Josh Sborz, who had a strong fall, is another sophomore arm to watch.
While the Cavaliers lead the charge in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league has plenty of representatives in the inaugural 2014 rankings — six to be exact with Florida State (4), North Carolina State (10), North Carolina (13), Clemson (14) and Miami (Fla.) (20).
To no one’s surprise, the Southeastern Conference leads all conferences with seven teams in our rankings — Mississippi State, last year’s national runner-up, as the ringleader at No. 6. South Carolina comes in at No. 7 and is expected to get back to Omaha this season, while other ranked squads include Vanderbilt (11), LSU (12), Florida (15), Texas A&M (19) and Alabama (21).
The conference tally breaks down like this: SEC (7), ACC (6), Pac-12 (4), Big 12 (3), Conference USA (2), American (1), Big West (1) and Big Ten (1).
The Perfect Game College Top 25 is released every Monday morning during the season.