Fall Report: UNC WilmingtonFall Report
WILMINGTON, N.C. — Coming off back-to-back regional finals and bringing back loads of offensive firepower heading into 2017, UNC Wilmington had high hopes that the program was finally ready to get over the hump and win a regional for the first time in ever. The Seahawks ranked No. 24 in the D1Baseball Preseason Top 25 a year ago, but an early eight-game losing streak put them behind the eight-ball, and a six-game skid in late March/early April dropped them to 11-16 midway through the season.
UNCW turned the season around, winning its final seven weekend series to finish with a winning overall record (30-29) and a 16-8 record in the Colonial Athletic Association, just a half-game out of first place. The strong second half was encouraging, but the Seahawks failed to win the CAA tournament and were left out of regionals for just the second time in the last six years. It was a disappointing end for a program that has gotten used to competing in the NCAA tournament and established itself as a solid top-50 program in college baseball.
So what should we expect from Wilmington in 2018? Perhaps a bit of a reversal from the norm. The Seahawks typically rely heavily upon a powerful offense, which tends to carry them to plenty of slugfest victories at their hitter-friendly home park. UNCW ranked fifth in the nation with 85 home runs last year, but it must replace seven of its nine everyday players, led by sluggers Casey Golden (21 HR), Nick Feight (15 HR) and Brian Mims (8 HR). But Wilmington might have one of its best pitching staffs of the 27-year Mark Scalf era.
“I definitely feel like our depth on the mound is as good as we’ve had,” Scalf said after a recent scrimmage. “Knock on wood, you’ve got to stay healthy and hope guys continue to make some progress. Even some young arms have some things to clean up, but they have an opportunity to help add some additional depth.”
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