Round table: Grading baseball’s opening weekend sweep
How do you rate the team’s performance in the opening series?
Staff writer J.D. Smith: They played as they were expected to. A top-15 team against a team that isn’t projected to do well in its conference should lead to blowouts, even in baseball. The pitching performance was spectacular, though, and could lead to big things this season.
Staff writer Reagan Earnst: A+. The Cougars were simply dominant in their opening series against Villanova. Winning the series by a combined score of 27-4 makes it impossible to even form an argument otherwise. Getting the sweep in their opening series will definitely set the tone for what looks to be a strong 2016 campaign.
Who was the team’s MVP?
JS: Besides the rotation as a whole, catcher Connor Wong provided a spark at the top of the roster, leading off the first two games with a home run and a double. Despite only going 3-12 in the series, he made the hits count and picked up four walks.
RE: There are a number of players to choose from, but I was personally impressed by Corey Julks. After the first series, his batting average is sitting at .500 (6-12), and he displayed his ability to hit for power by hitting a deep home run Saturday night as well as two doubles on Sunday. Julks’ speed was on display all weekend long in left field as he tracked down tough fly balls with ease.
Did the team perform to your expectations, better or worse?
JS: They performed to expectations. The question going in was how the rotation was going to respond following Romero’s indefinite suspension, and they proved just how deep and talented they are.
RE: As the Cougars entered their opening series with Villanova, I thought being able to take at least 2/3 of the games would be ideal. I assumed the team would still have some rust from the long offseason, and Villanova is not a familiar opponent for the Cougars. With that said, my expectations were greatly exceeded when the Cougars won all three games in deciding fashion.
How do you think the Cougars will fare against McNeese State University?
JS: They should handle them easily and build on that win streak and momentum going into this weekend’s Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic.
RE: I expect the Cougars to take care of business against McNeese State. The Cougars have now moved into the AP Top 10 rankings and are expected to take care of seemingly inferior opponents such as MSU. The Cowboys also won their opening series against Southern Illinois but did drop the Saturday tilt by a score of 2-1. I would expect a big win by the Cougars, but baseball is a sport that allows for underdogs to frequently surprise you.