Today, the road to Omaha and the College Baseball World Series begins for about 300 programs. However, as only a select few can make it there, the road is tough. One team that fell just short in 2022 is No. 14 Virginia Tech.
The Hokies had a record setting year in 2022, on their way to a regular season ACC Coastal title, and hosting both a regional and super-regional in Blacksburg. When the Oklahoma Sooners ended their season on the way to a runner-up finish in the CWS, the Hokies knew they would lose some talent.
“I think if we had lost our whole team from last year, it would be a big time rebuild, but that’s not the case,” said sixth year head coach John Szefc. “Everyone we thought we would lose - we did. The guys we thought we would get back - we did.”
As Szefc said, the Hokies lost a lot, including five MLB draft picks. But they feel that the talent is still in Blacksburg, ready for a bigger season in 2023.
Tech is home to four preseason All-Americans in Jack Hurley (OF), Carson DeMartini (3B), Drue Hackenberg (RHP), and Kiernan Higgins (RHP).
The supporting cast is deep, as Szefc claims it may be the most talented team he’s ever coached. Obviously Griffin Green returns, and will help anchor Tech's starting pitching after guiding the Hokies to seven in-conference wins last season.
The lineup is supported by Carson Jones, an outfielder who slashed .327/.439/.800 to go along with eight homers in 2022. In addition to Jones, Eduardo Malinowski is back to make a big impact and build on a solid 2022 that started out big but ended quietly.
But what about the new guys?
Well, Tech brought in several transfers, but the guys talked about the most this offseason were RHP Anthony Arguelles, via Miami, who posted a 4.28 ERA in 2022, and new SS David Bryant, a grad transfer via Radford who is a career .300+ hitter.
Szefc expects Arguelles to be the Sunday guy, and talks about what he brings to the staff.
“He’s pretty advanced…a lot of velocity, a plus curveball, his changeup might be his best pitch…he can really command the zone,” Szefc said.
Bryant on the other hand has big shoes to fill with Tanner Schobel leaving after being drafted in the top 70 by the Minnesota Twins, but his teammates have been impressed with what they have seen thus far.
“David has been outstanding [in preseason],” Carson DeMartini raved. “I was not sure what we were gonna get from him this year just because [I’ve] never really seen him play. He came in here and just made an absolutely great impact. He’s got the potential to do some damage at the top of the order…”
As for freshmen who have stood out, Tech star Jack Hurley thinks infielder Garrett Michel is a name to watch out for.
“He’s had a monster preseason,” said Hurley. “I’ve never seen a better preseason since I’ve been here. Seven home runs this preseason. I hope he can keep it up, he’s definitely gonna be in the lineup and I think at the end of the year, Tech fans will know his name.”
The Hokies are on the road to open the season at College of Charleston for a three game weekend series. Green is set to match up against Ty Good of CofC in the opener. Good posted a 3.61 ERA in 15 starts for the Cougars last season. First pitch on Friday is set for 4 p.m.