Seton Hall managed to finish their 2015 campaign at a rock solid 25-25, going 9-9 in BIG EAST play as well. The Pirates were lucky enough to start the season against perennial powerhouse North Carolina last year, a foe that isn't easily vanquished as the Pirates soon found out, as the results were not in the Pirate's favor. From then on Seton Hall's schedule got a bit easier and they proceeded through the season winning games they should've as well as facing the same fate for games lost.
The Pirates are tasked with filling the shoes of DH Sal Annunziata, C Alex Falconi, 3B Kyle Grimm, RHP Anthony Elia, and SS D.J Ruhlman. With little experience on the offensive side of the diamond, the Pirates make up for it in spades with a well traveled pitching staff that should be able to shore up a bulk of the inexperience faced across the board.
Seton Hall always seems to have a pretty good team, so what will their competition look like? Who will be their key players?
Non-Conference Key Games
- Missouri - 30-28 - #56 RPI
- Indiana - 34-21 - #31 RPI
- Ohio State - 35-20 - #40 RPI
- Iowa- 39-16 - #29 RPI
SP Shane McCarthy- McCarthy doesn't have filthy stuff that strikes guys out, but relies on inducing weak contact for his defense to clean up. The sophomore righty put up some pretty incredible numbers last year to the tune of a 2.19 ERA over 65.2 innings pitched, giving up a single dinger, walking only 9 and striking out 29. McCarthy was also able to complete two games over the course of the year.
SP Zach Prendergast- Prendergast threw two innings less than McCarthy, but was still able to strike out 16 more batters. With a 5-3 record and a 3.84 ERA, Prendergast used a good mix of pitches to strike out opposing batters but was touched for 3 home runs and 17 total extra base hits. If Seton Hall expects to keep this guy in the weekend rotation, he'll need to cut down on his mistakes.
OF Zack Weigel- Weigel played an intricate role in the offensive behemoth Seton Hall became later on in the 2015 campaign, putting up a slash line of .287/.389/.397 while leading the team in triples (3) and maintaining a healthy K/BB ratio (28-27). If last year is any indication of how good Weigel can be, especially when the pressure is on, then I'd say he's got a pretty decent shot at making a run for BIG EAST Player of the Year.
Best Case Scenario
Rob Sheppard's Pirates don't skip a beat, even after losing seemingly half of their team, and go on to rout the weaker parts of their non-conference schedule (when I say weak... oh man, there's a lot of 200+ RPI teams in that schedule) only to get to conference play and put up pretty stiff competition to both Creighton and St. John's. Eventually Seton Hall rounds themselves out into a 3 seed come conference tournament time, and proceed to win the title with their sublime and experienced rotation.
Seton Hall gets lucky and draws an ACC team in their regional, and the baseball curse of the Atlantic Coastal Conference begins anew. Then, Seton Hall most likely loses in the Super Regional to a SEC team.
Worst Case Scenario
The offense never really picks up, the pitching never comes together, and they lose a handful of non-con games to nobody teams. They get walloped by their B1G foes and never seem to get their game together. Sheppard hits the panic button and starts to play nothin' but sophomores as he prepares for the future. Seton Hall limps into conference play and gets beat by Xavier three times, falling ever deeper into the cellar, miss out on the tournament, and spend the summer watching baseball from South Orange.
What will probably happen
Prendergast and McCarthy will be realized as true Friday-Saturday talent and get some unexpected wins throughout the season. Weigel will be the best offensive tool the Pirates possess and they'll likely lean on him when they need a spark; unfortunately one man can only do so much and the offense never really comes around. The pitching and defense can stop runs for a while, but the frustration caused by Seton Hall's inability to score will begin to seep into the psyche of the pitching staff. Seton Hall will just barely get the #3 seed in the conference tournament but will be quickly dispatched by both St. John's and (probably) Georgetown.
2016 Record - 23-27 - 9-9