Seton Hall used to be quite the regional power in college baseball under longtime head coach Mike Sheppard. In the 1970s, they made a couple of appearances in the College World Series. Through that entire decade and into the 80s, in fact, they were regulars in regionals. During the latter half of the 1980s, they had the likes of John Valentin, Craig Biggio, and Mo Vaughn come through the doors, even if they weren’t found in regionals quite as often as they had been before.
It’s a different college baseball world today, and it’s not quite as easy for once-proud northern teams to make their way to the promised land of the CWS (just ask Maine), so while the Pirates haven’t quite returned to those heights as a program, over the last several years, they’ve done a heck of a job re-emerging as a real player in the northeast under head coach Rob Sheppard, Mike’s son.
Perhaps the biggest catalyst for this recent success has been their ability to field outstanding pitching staffs seemingly year after year. Over the last two seasons, those staffs have included starting pitcher Shane McCarthy, the back-to-back Big East leader in ERA.
As a freshman in 2015, he found some immediate success. He appeared in 12 games (with ten of those being starts), putting up a 4-4 record and 2.19 ERA. He wasn’t overpowering, as he struck out just 29 in 65.2 innings of work, but he limited his walks to just nine on the season and opponents hit just .222 against him.
As a sophomore, as if that performance wasn’t enough, he made a jump across the board, going 6-4 with a 2.38 ERA. In 102 innings spread across 15 starts, he struck out 84, walked 18, and allowed opponents to hit just .229 against him. In short, he had become a more dominant pitcher without sacrificing his command or becoming any more hittable.
Heading into 2017, with the likes of Xavier and St. John’s once again set to field strong squads, the Pirates will be leaning on McCarthy to have a season similar to his first two. Every indication suggests that he’ll be up to the task.