'Hoos return from exams on NCAA bubble

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The Virginia baseball team will return from its layoff for final exams with a doubleheader at home on Friday against the No. 6 team in the country.

The Wahoos will take the field for the first game against Louisville at 10-14 in the ACC -- good for fifth place in the Coastal Division. As of Thursday afternoon, the Cavaliers sat at No. 59 in the NCAA's RPI.

In other words, squarely on the NCAA bubble with two weekends to go in the regular season.

"It's a longshot, but yeah, I think they're still in it," Aaron Fitt, co-editor and national writer for D1Baseball.com, told CBS19 Sports this week. "If they can get to 15 or 16 wins in the league, they probably have a shot."

To get to that win threshold, the Wahoos would have to win at least five of their last six ACC games. They'll end the regular season at Virginia Tech next week. But first, they've got two games at Disharoon Park on Friday and another on Saturday against the Cardinals -- who, at 39-10 overall and 18-6 in the conference, have the best record in the ACC this spring.

"When you're on the bubble, it helps to have opportunities against really good teams," Fitt said. "It's a double-edged sword, because it's harder to win those games. But what they need to do is make a splash, and when you play an elite opponent it gives you a chance to do that."

The UVA program's streak of 14 straight NCAA regional appearances ended last year. Now they're in danger of missing the tournament again. Fitt pointed to the Cavaliers' inconsistent pitching staff, which ranks in the bottom half of the ACC in statistics like team ERA (4.41), batting average against (.255) and walks allowed (228).

"This was an elite pitching program for 15 years, and the last two years it just hasn't been. For whatever reason," Fitt said. "Injuries have played a part, and guys just haven't developed maybe as quickly as Virginia was hoping."

"The talent is still there. They're just under-performing."

But Fitt -- who watched the Wahoos during both their season-opening weekend in Arizona, and their late March visit to NC State -- says he is a fan of the UVA lineup, and believes they're a strong defensive team as well. So there's still a chance the Cavaliers can get hot at the right time.

"It's just a matter of putting it together these last two weeks," Fitt said. "Stranger things have certainly happened. And I think that coaching staff is still one of the best out there, and they haven't forgotten how to coach. So I wouldn't put anything past them, but it's not going to be easy."