UConn has been blessed recently with some elite starting pitchers. First it was Matt Barnes, then Carson Cross, then Anthony Kay. They dominated at UConn and two were first round selections. Now that Kay has moved on to the professional ranks, it’s Tim Cate’s turn.
The sophomore left-hander from Manchester, Connecticut burst onto the scene last season and started against Georgia Tech in the first game of NCAA Regionals last year.
“A year ago at this time we didn’t know when we would see him on the mound,” head coach Jim Penders said. “He was not making the first trips, we left him behind because he wasn’t in shape. His body was in shape but his arm wasn’t prepared.”
He completed the year with a 5-1 record in 14 appearances, 13 of which were starts. Cate had a very impressive strikeout rate, notching 101 in 82 1⁄3 innings, trailing only Kay who had just 10 more in 36 2⁄3 more innings. Cate posted an ERA of 2.73 on his way to earning American Athletic Conference’s freshman pitcher of the year and all-conference second team honors.
Cate will be followed up by junior Wills Montgomerie on Saturdays.
“Tim Cate and Wills Montgomerie are battling out for the ace of the staff and I think they’re both capable of being Ace One and Ace Two on any given week,” Penders said. “Who cares what order they’ll be in, they’ll both be pitching on the weekends.”
As for who will take that Sunday slot, there are multiple choices for Penders and his staff, including a pair of left-handers in freshman Mason Feole and senior Doug Domnarski as well as right-handed redshirt junior Sam Nepiarsky.
“Doug Domnarski has a real steadying influence on our team. He pitches to contact but [Sunday] he threw the best he’s thrown all preseason,” Penders said. “Sam Nepiarsky has had a pretty good preseason as well, so there’s some options there.”
Penders spoke about Feole at length, yet another left-hander to come to Storrs. He was the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year in Rhode Island.
“He has an electric left arm and an electric personality. He’s a very dynamic kid on the mound,” Penders said. I enjoy watching him compete.”
Susi feels the same way.
“He’s a great left-hander and he does a really good job of controlling the zone with his fastball,” he said. “He’s got a really good curveball and an even better changeup and he does a good job of keeping guys off balance.”
Andrew Zapata is also a candidate to start, after making seven starts last season and posting a 4-1 record with an ERA of 4.97 in 29 innings.
Penders says the rotation to begin the year will be Cate, Montgomerie and Domnarski, but that is always subject to change, especially because UConn will be playing four games their first weekend, including a doubleheader on Saturday.
Projected Weekend Rotation:
Friday - Tim Cate
Saturday - Wills Montgomerie
Sunday - Doug Domnarski