Dec. 23, 2013
STORRS, Conn. -- UConn redshirt junior tri-captain Carson Cross (Brentwood, N.H.) was named Preseason American Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, the league announced Monday (Dec. 23) afternoon. Cross was also named to the Preseason All-Conference team and the Huskies were tabbed to finish tied for second in the league in a vote of the conference’s coaches.
Cross, a 2013 All-BIG EAST Second Team member, is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign last season. The righty made 16 starts for Connecticut, compiling a 9-4 record with a 2.44 ERA. In 110.2 innings of work, Cross compiled 86 strikeouts against just 24 walks, holding opponents to a .246 batting average. He finished second in the league in strikeouts and third in innings, and had big-time performances in UConn’s postseason run. The 6’5 hurler tossed nine innings of two-run ball against top-seeded Louisville in the BIG EAST Tournament, then went 6.1 allowing one run against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Blacksburg Regional.
Following the season, Cross was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June, but elected to return to UConn for his redshirt junior season. Head Coach Jim Penders awarded Cross with the 2013 James Allen Pitching Award at UConn’s Alumni Game on Sept. 23.
UConn was projected to finish in second place in the league, tied with Houston and UCF behind projected league favorite Louisville. The Cardinals received eight of nine first place votes, with the lone other going to Houston. This year will be UConn’s first in the nine-team American Athletic Conference.
The Huskies went 35-29 last season, finishing eighth in the BIG EAST with a 9-15 league record. UConn then went on a run to win the BIG EAST Tournament and earn its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. After a 12-inning upset of top-seeded Louisville in the first round of the tournament, UConn defeated USF and Rutgers by one run apiece before dominating Notre Dame, 8-1, in the tournament final. The Huskies then went on to the NCAA Blacksburg Regional, winning their first game against host-Virginia Tech but then dropping a 12-inning affair to Oklahoma before being eliminated by VT.
In addition to Cross, UConn returns three other members of the pitching staff who made at least seven starts a year ago in tri-captain Anthony Marzi, Jordan Tabakman and Brian Ward. The Huskies also bring back bullpen ace David Mahoney and will have six position player regulars back in the lineup, led by tri-captain Tom Verdi and rising sophomores Vinny Siena and Bobby Melley.
Cross, Penders and the Huskies open the 2014 campaign at the Port Charlotte Tournament from Feb. 14-16. UConn will visit Port Charlotte, Fla., where they will take on Ohio State, Indiana State and Auburn.
2014 Preseason American Athletic Conference Baseball Coaches’ Poll
*1. Louisville (8)
T2. Houston (1)
Preseason American Athletic Conference Player of the Year:
Jeff Gardner, OF, Louisville
Preseason American Athletic Conference Pitchers of the Year:
Carson Cross, P, UConn AND Jimmy Herget, P, Louisville
2014 Preseason All-American Athletic Conference Team
P Carson Cross, RJr., UConn
P Anthony Kidston, So., Louisville
P Kyle Funkhouser, So., Louisville
P Jimmy Herget, So., USF
RP Nick Burdi, Jr., Louisville*
C Carter White, Jr., Memphis
1B Tucker Tubbs, Jr., Memphis
2B Nik Alonso, RSo., USF
SS Sutton Whitting, Jr., Louisville
3B Justin Montemayor, So., Houston *
OF Jeff Gardner, Sr., Louisville
OF Ian Happ, So., Cincinnati
OF Cole Sturgeon, Sr., Louisville
OF Vinny Zarrilo, Jr., Rutgers
DH Bret Gordon, Sr., UCF*
* - unanimous selection