NCAA College World Series: Previewing the Virginia Cavaliers

Now that the UNC Baseball team has clinched a spot in the College World Series, let's preview the Tar Heels first opponent in Omaha: The Virginia Cavaliers.
North Carolina v Virginia
North Carolina v Virginia / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Once again, Boshamer Stadium was home to some dramatic finishes in the NCAA Super Regional round.

The UNC Baseball team was on the right side of those finishes, just as they were the week before. This time, Vance Honeycutt provided the two-run walk-off home run to give the Tar Heels the 1-0 series lead, and then Dalton Pence slammed the door on the West Virginia Mountaineers with the bases loaded to send North Carolina to Omaha.

While the Tar Heels are traveling more than 1,200 miles from home, they will see some familiar names and faces in the College World Series. It will be an ACC versus SEC challenge for the National Championship, and North Carolina is on the side with 2 other ACC teams: Florida State and Virginia. Time to get to know (or, in this case, review) the first opponent for the Tar Heels: the Virginia Cavaliers.

How They Got Here:

Virginia has put together a 46-15 overall record with an 18-12 record in ACC Play this season. That record earned them a top-four seed at the ACC Baseball tournament in Charlotte, where they went 1-1, with a 13-0 win over Georgia Tech and a 12-7 loss to Florida State.

During the regular season, the Cavaliers earned notable series wins over Wake Forest and North Carolina, both at home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Their overall performance this season earned them a No. 12 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament and guaranteed them a chance to host an NCAA Regional.

They rolled through their regional with a 3-0 record, racking up wins over No. 4 seed Penn and two wins versus No. 2 seed Mississippi State. The No. 4 National Seed Arkansas, paired with the Charlottesville Regional, was upset by Kansas State allowing Virginia to host a Super Regional. The Wildcats didn't have much answer for the Cavaliers, and Virginia advanced to Omaha behind 7-4 and 10-4 victories.

Virginia has made its way to the College World Series behind the offense. They are second in the nation in batting average (.336), 4th in runs per game (9.44), 6th in on-base percentage (.428), and 11th in home runs (116 in 61 total games). In the NCAA Tournament, they are averaging 7 runs per game.

The Cavaliers' weakness is their pitching staff. They are 141st in hits allowed per nine innings (9.75), 112th in strikeout-walk ratio (1.89), 131st in WHIP (1.58), and 88th in team ERA (5.39).

Key Players to Know:

Evan Blanco

Evan Blanco is a sophomore left-handed pitcher for the Cavaliers and will likely start Game One in the College World Series versus the Tar Heels. Blanco has started 17 games this season, compiling an 8-3 overall record in 92.2 innings pitched. He has an ERA over 3.69, which is by far the best of any Virginia pitcher with more than 30 innings pitched (and he is one of three pitchers to pitch more than 50 innings this year).

He averages approximately 86-90 pitches per game, and the deepest into a game he has gone is 7.1 innings earlier this year. He started game two versus North Carolina earlier this year when he pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just six hits and two earned runs while striking out seven Tar Heels.

In the NCAA Tournament, he has started two games against Mississippi State in the Regionals and Kansas State in the Super Regionals. Against the Bulldogs, he pitched six innings, allowing eight hits, four runs, and striking out seven. Against the Wildcats, it was a similar performance, allowing five hits, four runs, and striking out nine.

Harrison Didawick

Harrison Didawick is a sophomore outfielder for Virginia and may not be a name you expected to see on this list. For any Cavalier with more than 160 plate appearances, he ranks as the worst when it comes to batting average (0.297). He has played and started in every game this year.

However, like Reed Chumley from West Virginia in the Super Regionals last weekend, he is an all-or-nothing power hitter. Didawick leads Virginia in runs scored (78), home runs (23), tied for first in RBIs (68), and total bases (152). He also has the most strikeouts of any Cavalier this year with 67.

Versus the Tar Heels during the regular season series, Didawick was 2-10, with four runs scored, four RBIs, three strikeouts, and four walks. With the huge outfield at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, he will definitely be someone to watch for against the Tar Heels pitching staff.

Henry Godbout

You really could choose just about anyone in the Virginia lineup to highlight offensively, we're going to point out Henry Godbout here. He is tied for first on the team in batting average with Bobby Whalen - both players hold a .370 batting average in 165 total plate appearances.

Godbout is a sophomore infielder for the Cavaliers who was named to the All-ACC Third Team in 2024. He is tied for third on the team in doubles with 18 on the year and leads the team in on-base percentage with 0.468. What makes Godbout so good offensively? He puts the ball in play and has an extremely low strikeout rate. He has struck out just 19 times in 165 total at-bats this season (11.5%), by far the lowest of any Virginia player.

Godbout never faced the Tar Heels during the regular season due to suffering a foot injury against George Washington earlier in the season and then re-injured the same foot later. As a result, he was held out for three weeks in April.

Godbout has been solid for the Cavaliers in the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA Regionals, he was 2-9, scoring three runs, walking three times, and racking up three RBIs. Against Kansas State in the Super Regionals, he really put on a great performance, going 3-7 at the plate with four runs, three RBIs, and two walks. He has only struck out twice in the post-season.