2011 PREVIEW: Pitching
Feb. 14, 2011
ARLINGTON, Tex. - Ask one week who will make up the UT Arlington starting rotation in 2011 and you might get an entirely different answer the next.
UTA coach Darin Thomas feels good about his pitching staff as the Mavericks prepare to head to Houston to open the season this weekend. That doesn't mean he knows exactly who will take the ball on what specific day.
There is no shortage of candidates.
Brody Walker enjoyed a strong fall and seemed like a contender for the top pitching spot. Senior Mark Picca will also get early opportunities to win a starting job. Calan Pritchard has all the makeup - and the repertoire - to be a starter in Southland Conference play.
Then there are the newcomers, led by freshmen Kasey Merck. Some within the program think Merck has a Big 12-caliber arm and should be a strong starter immediately. Michael Oberto, another junior-college transfer, is expected to contend for a spot as could Adam Westbrook and Michael Morales.
The bullpen will be a hodgepodge of pitchers who don't make the rotation and several other short-inning specialists.
Adam Boydston is back after missing most of the 2010 season. He provides great experience out of the bullpen. The southpaw enters this season tied for fourth on the UTA all-time saves list with nine.
Preston Beck could possibly come in from right field and throw significant innings in the late innings. Sam Hansen strung together an impressive fall and an impressive spring and is certainly in the mix for a late-inning role.
Freshman John Beck has emerged this spring as someone who could get important outs for the UTA bullpen.
Regardless of who fills what role, the fact that UT Arlington lost 75 percent of its innings pitched last year means there will be plenty of new faces out on the mound.
Which specific faces are out on the mound remains subject to change.