For the last weekend of the regular season, the USF Bulls will play host to the UConn Huskies. To return the favor, we hosted Nathan Bond, who covers USF baseball for our friends at The Daily Stampede for a Q&A about their squad.
1) What is the team’s biggest strength?
TDS: The biggest strength for the team is the top of the order of Kevin Merrell (.323/.424/.411, along with 16 steals) and Luke Maglich (.292/.398/.435 and 23 steals). Merrell is on an 11-game hit streak and a 17-game on base streak. He makes the offense tick. Also, Joe Genord and Luke Borders have come on as of late. Borders won the Player of the Week award for his efforts against UF and ECU (three HR's) last week.
On the pitching side, Phoenix Sanders is a great ace and Brandon Lawson isn't far behind him. Tommy Eveld is virtually lights out coming out of the pen.
2) How about the team's biggest weakness?
TDS: There is no consistent power threat on offense. On defense, they can get a bit erratic at times. The absolute biggest weakness is after Eveld, you can't really trust any reliever and lately it has been especially bad.
3) What does the weekend rotation look like?
TDS: I'd expect it to be Sanders Thursday, Lawson Friday and Joe Cavallaro on Saturday. But it wouldn't surprise me to see Sanders and Cavallaro switch spots, so in the event Saturday is a must-win to avoid Tulane in the first game of the conference tournament, they throw out their best pitcher.
4) How will the Bulls beat UConn in this series?
TDS: The starting pitching has to get deep into the game for USF to have any chance. I don't trust the bullpen outside of Eveld and he is very capable of getting two-inning saves if needed. Maglich and Merrell need to continue to get on base and wreck havoc once they get on. Borders needs to keep up the hot hitting, as well.
Thanks to Nathan for the questions. You can read my answers to his questions here.