Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Chris Rotondo leads Villanova
Chris Rotondo will lead the Wildcat offense. | Photo: Villanova Athletics
Villanova enters 2022 with an opportunity to make some noise in the Big East, despite losing some top-notch talent. 

Gone are hurlers Gordon Graceffo and Jordan Kingsbury, both now in the professional ranks. Graceffo posted a 1.54 ERA over 11 starts last season before being drafted in the fifth round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Kingsbury, meanwhile, made 16 appearances while pitching to a 4.87 ERA before being selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 17th round. 

The club finished 21-14 overall last year, but skidded to a 9-12 mark in conference play.

"We lost some guys, but we have faith in the arms that we have here and that they are going to be solid and get us outs," said head coach Kevin Mulvey. 

The Wildcats added junior Cole Patten as a transfer from Seton Hall. He's a quality arm that likely will play a pivotal role as a swing guy for the staff. 

"He'll have a chance to show right away what he's capable of," Mulvey said. "He pitched really well for us in the fall, and he's looking really good in our workouts right now." 

Another arm to keep on the radar is sophomore right-hander Cade Udell, a transfer from Duke. He can hit the upper-90's with a lively fastball and could be a significant weapon late in games for the Wildcats. Junior left-hander Danny Wilkinson picked up seven saves last year and will also be a key late-inning guy. Fifth-year left-hander Tyler Arella pitched well over eight starts last season, posting a 3.47 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. He'll open the season in the rotation along with sophomore right-hander Devin Rivera who made four starts a year ago while pitching to a 4.80 ERA. 

"We have some options with the talent we have," Mulvey said. "We lost some guys, but we believe there's talent still here to compete." 

Nick Lorusso led the team last year with a .306 average but transferred to the University of Maryland. so the offense hinges on senior Chris Rotondo. The outfielder hit .272 last year while leading the club with seven homers and 23 RBI's. He also stole seven bases. 

"He has the tools and a ton of potential, plus he's a student of the game," Mulvey said. "We believe he's going to have a great year. He's looked good all winter. He's a leader and the captain and does everything we ask of him and more." 

The Wildcats hit .224 as a team last season and just .215 in conference play. Rotondo is the only returning starter that hit over .225 last season. Grad student Pat O'Neill hit .278, but his year was cut short due to an injury after 22 games.  

"It's tough to get the bats ready," Mulvey said. "It's always going to be a grind to score runs in the northeast with the weather. These conditions don't help produce a ton of offense, especially early on. Clubs have to grind it out and see pitches, work the count, and scratch across a run here or there. That's what we have to do, and that's what we can do." 

The Wildcats open the 2022 season in Malibu on Friday when they begin a three-game set with Pepperdine. Mulvey and Co. will then head south for a three-game set with The Citadel, and a one-off with Charleston Southern before finishing their season-opening road trip with a series at Georgia State. The Wildcats return home on March 9 for a contest with Lafayette.

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis