Wake Forest Starts To Harness Its Big PotentialColumns
DURHAM, N.C. — We had high hopes for Wake Forest heading into 2019, ranking the Demon Deacons No. 20 in our preseason Top 25 rankings, even though they were coming off a losing 2018 campaign. We believed in Wake’s emerging talent, depth and leadership, so Wake’s uneven first month was a disappointment. After four weeks of play, Wake was just 9-8 overall, having opened ACC play with a surprising home series loss to Notre Dame.
Since then, the Deacs have started to right the ship. Two weeks in a row, Wake Forest has lost its series opener but bounced back to win the next two games of conference series. This weekend on the road at Duke was particularly impressive, as Wake got pummeled 16-2 in Friday’s opener, then fell behind 4-1 early on Saturday but rallied back to win that game 9-8. The Demon Deacons then earned a gritty 5-4 win over five grueling hours and 12 innings in Sunday’s rubber game.
This club is showing some toughness and resilience, and its talent remains very exciting. At 15-10 overall and 5-4 in the ACC, Wake Forest is getting itself back into position to make a run at regionals in the second half. They’re still not a Top 25 team right now — not yet — but they could well find themselves back in the rankings in a few weeks. After watching the Deacs most of this weekend, I remain convinced that they are primed for a big second half, and capable of making some noise in June.
“We’re swinging the bat better, which we needed to do,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “We’re not a team that’s built to win 3-2. It puts too much pressure on our pitching, too much pressure on our defense, and that’s just not how we’re made. So we’ve got to swing the bats to score runs. I like where our offense is headed, Michael Turconi, Brendan Tinsman, those freshmen have really come on. Bobby (Seymour) and Chris (Lanzilli) in the middle are swinging the bat well. So I like where this offense is headed, and that’s the key for us.”