STORRS, Conn. – With the fall season in the books, the UConn baseball team has tabbed Carson Cross, Bobby Melley and Jordan Tabakman as captains for the upcoming 2015 season. The captains were announced by head coach Jim Penders after a team vote at the conclusion of the fall training period.
“The captains were announced atop cemetery hill. A dawn workout concluding at the graves of the University founders, Charles and Augustus Storrs, has become a tradition to close out the fall training period for the baseball team,” Penders said.
“We always pay our respects to the two gentlemen that gave rise to our university before we go our separate ways for Thanksgiving. Those two leaders had vision and simply wanted to make better farmers. It took a lot of faith, trust, and sacrifice to build UConn. We will need the same things this season and beyond if we are to realize our goals. So, the players touch the monument atop the grave to remind us all that we’re part of something special and something much bigger than ourselves. If we follow our founders’ lead, anything is possible,” the 12th-year Husky skipper added.
The three UConn captains are each upperclassmen and have already seen tremendous success in Storrs, playing an integral part in UConn’s run to the Big East Tournament title in 2013 and the Huskies’ most recent NCAA Regional appearance. Cross (Exeter, N.H.) returns as a two-year captain, while Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) and Tabakman (Pompton Plains, N.J.) are first-time captains.
“The group spoke with one voice and chose three captains that all have differing skillsets and strengths. Carson, Bobby, and Jordan have all played integral parts in winning games in the postseason, and they share championship experience. I believe their range of personalities paired with their shared knowledge of what it takes to win will benefit us greatly in 2015,” Penders said.
Cross will return to the diamond in 2015 after missing the entire 2014 campaign after offseason shoulder surgery. The 6’6 right-hander was named 2014 Preseason American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after a star turn in 2013, emerging as UConn’s ace during his redshirt-sophomore campaign. In 16 starts, Cross tossed a team-high 110.2 innings and posted a 9-4 record with a 2.44 ERA and 86 strikeouts against a mere 24 walks. A Second Team All-Conference member, Cross tossed 15.1 innings in two postseason starts, allowing two runs in nine frames against Louisville in the Big East Championship and one run in 6.1 innings in the NCAA Blacksburg Regional vs. host Virginia Tech. Overall for his career, Cross has made 34 appearances and holds a 12-5 record with a 2.13 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 148.0 innings.
Melley was UConn’s Team MVP in 2014 after raking to the tune of a .359/.475/.502 slash line. The NEIBA New England Player of the Year, Melley was a First Team All-Conference, All-New England and ABCA All-Northeast Region selection following his sterling sophomore season. After a mild start, Melley hit .407 over the final 45 games of the season. He also set new career-highs and was among The American’s leaders in hits (75), doubles (16), RBIs (47) and walks (31). He showed postseason success at the tail end of 2013, when we went 7-for-14 in the Blacksburg Regional to earn a spot on the All-Regional Team.
UConn’s most experienced hurler; Tabakman has tossed 179.1 career innings and pitched in a variety of roles for the Huskies during his career. He made 14 starts a year ago, settling into the weekend rotation and compiling a 4-4 record with a 3.40 ERA in 76.2 innings of work. In 2013, he was an impressive 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA, making 22 appearances and seven starts while tying for the team-high with five saves. A late-season shift from closer to weekend starter saw him pick up the win in the Big East Championship semifinal game against Rutgers. He followed that up with another strong postseason outing, going nine innings against Oklahoma in the Blacksburg Regional. Overall for his career, Tabakman holds a 13-7 record with a 3.26 ERA and 104 strikeouts.
“I am looking forward to continuing to build a championship caliber team with these three captains and their teammates,” Penders said.
The Huskies open the 2015 season on Feb. 13 with a trip to Boca Raton, Fla. for a three-game set against Florida Atlantic.