FAU's Francisco Urbaez is having a strong season. (FAU photo)

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Early Struggles Fuel Florida Atlantic’s C-USA Surge

Weekend Spotlight

All Florida Atlantic needed was a little extra motivation to get the ball rolling this spring.

FAU is a proud program and expects to get off to quick starts. The Owls put together an impressive 2018 campaign, and they ended the season with a trip to the Gainesville Regional title game. Though they lost some key cogs from last year’s club, they once again were expected to be solid and in the thick of the Conference USA title race.

But let’s be honest, things looked pretty bleak through the first three weeks of the season. FAU swept Cincinnati in impressive fashion to begin the season, but that’s when the struggles began. It lost a midweek bout to Miami before getting swept at home by a solid Illinois club. Just a couple of days later, the Owls dropped back-to-back midweek games to North Florida.

It was uncharted territory for head coach John McCormack. Not only were his Owls struggling. They were 3-6 on the young season, and they needed something to change.

So, McCormack made change happen. Later in the week after losing those two games to UNF, McCormack walked out to the practice field with papers in his hand. Those papers were FAU’s statistics up until that point. McCormack proceeded to shred those papers in front of his players, signifying that from that point on, what happened in the past simply didn’t matter anymore.

FAU’s players certainly have heeded that advice, as the Owls are one of the nation’s hottest teams, sitting at 23-9 on the season with an 11-1 Conference USA record. They’re also riding a seven-game winning streak entering this weekend’s C-USA showdown against Louisiana Tech.

“There wasn’t really a specific moment that we turned the switch. We just know we needed to make plays to get out of innings and we weren’t doing that,” McCormack said. “That Friday after playing UNF, I took the stats out to the field and just ripped them up. I just told our guys all of this is behind us and we’re going to work to get better from this point forward. We were going to go out there and make the plays needed to get out of innings.

“The pitching has gotten a little more confident and the offense has done a pretty good job the entire season,” he continued. “We won that Friday after that speech and everyone just kind of took a deep breath. I just reminded our guys that we have some pieces to the puzzle here, and we’ve been fine since.”

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