In 2017, UConn baseball’s best players were its starting pitchers. Tim Cate (4-3, 3.33 ERA) and Mason Feole (7-4, 3.38) landed on the American Athletic Conference’s all-conference first team while Wills Montgomerie (6-3, 3.73) was on the conference’s second team. Feole also won the rookie pitcher of the year award.
Montgomerie is on to the professional ranks after the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him with their sixth-round pick (190th overall) in the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft, but Cate and Feole return and with new faces the Huskies look to have another strong year from their starters.
Cate, a junior left-hander, will be starting on Friday nights and has been piling up the All-America awards, getting second team nods from D1Baseball.com and Baseball America as well as being named to the third team by Perfect Game. MLB.com has also named him their No. 33 MLB Draft prospect in addition to owner of the best curveball in the class.
Despite the national notoriety and attention Cate has been facing, his attitude about the game has not changed.
“If you ever had a heart-rate monitor, I don’t think it’ll ever change,” head coach Jim Penders said. “He’s always been able to limit distractions.
“He’ll never throw another game without scouts there. I think he’s handled it extremely well.”
Fellow southpaw Feole will be following him in his sophomore campaign on Saturdays. A strong 2019 MLB Draft prospect, the 6-foot-1 left-hander from Wakefield, Rhode Island owns a strong fastball and changeup combination to keep hitters off balance.
With Montgomerie’s departure, there are multiple new faces that will be competing for that final role on weekends.
Jeffrey Kersten, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher, is an efficient junior college transfer from Sierra College in California and 6-foot-7 left-hander Chase Gardner, a transfer from the College of Marin, have the inside track for the Sunday role.
“[Kersten] is a guy we haven’t had in awhile,” Penders said. “He can get outs early in counts and doesn’t rely on the punch out.”
Should Gardner earn the role, the Huskies will have an all-left handed rotation on weekends.
Colby Dunlop, a freshman from Dover Plains, New York, is pushing the pair of juniors as well.
“He’s got three pitches, he’s very competitive. Every time out he seems like he gets better,” Penders said.
This depth will potentially serve UConn well once the regional midweek games begin, as they finished just 6-5 in midweek games, 5-4 against the RPI sub-150.
The Huskies begin their season on Friday against Kennesaw State at Fred Stillwell Stadium. First pitch is at 4 p.m.