Pair of Freshmen Leading Cavaliers Offense Early In Season

Pavin Smith -Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Whenever you lose eight players to the professional ranks as the Virginia Cavaliers did a year ago, you knew there was going to be a need for some players to taking on a bigger role the following year.

Throw in the fact that the player they thought was going to lead their team is currently out with an injury, there were going to be a lot of new faces in the UVA lineup early in the season taking on big roles.

For two freshmen, not only have they placed into a huge role they have excelled in it.

After Brandon Downes was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the seventh round of last year’s draft, the Cavaliers filled the hole in center field with true freshman from Rochester, New York Ernie Clement. They have wasted no time getting Clement acclimated with the college level, putting at the top of the lineup for all seven games this season.

The three time All-State selection from Brighton HS has answered by leading the team in hits and at-bats. After playing shortstop in high school, Clement made the move to the outfield with Daniel Pinero already entrenched at the position.

Four of his seven games this season have been multi-hit games, including a four hit performance in Virginia’s 18-inning marathon game on Sunday. He has also hit his first home run against La Salle in the first game of a double header.

While Clement has been plugged into the top of the lineup, Pavin Smith has already found himself in the middle of the Cavalier’s lineup.

The Jupiter, Florida native is tied with Kenny Towns for second on the team in hits and has slugged nearly .800 seven games into the season. Seven of his twelve hits have gone for extra bases, including two home runs (Friday against Marist, and Saturday against La Salle) and five doubles.

After going 4-for-12 in the opening series against East Carolina, Smith broke out over the weekend by hitting .470 which included six of his seven extra base hits on the season.

Virginia registered 29 runs over the weekend; Smith knocked in four of those and scored four by himself.

The Cavaliers will still be without Joe McCarthy for a significant amount of time but as long as Smith and Clement continue to contribute the way they have it will make the time without their preseason All-ACC outfielder that much easier.

About the Author

Anthony Murphy
Anthony was born in Hawaii to a military family and has lived up and down the East Coast until settling in Virginia, where he has lived the majority of his life. He developed his love for baseball watching the Pirates play with his grandfather, soaking up his stories and knowledge of the game. There wasn’t a day during any of his summer break as a kid where he and his brother didn’t have a glove in their hand, even if it was just to play catch. While he has written on several websites about various other sports, baseball is his first true love in the sporting world. Anthony will be covering the University of Virginia and the rest of the ACC for College Baseball Central, and you can follow him on Twitter: A_Murphy88.