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Friday Items

-- The baseball team's 1 PM Saturday matchup with Maryland will be televised by Raycom, which I assume means you can find the game on FSN South. There's a good piece in the N&O today about pitching coach Tom Holliday:

Holliday worked with Shunick on his arm angle, on his delivery and on getting his elbow up. They worked on improving his breaking ball and changeup, and on honing his split-finger pitch.

"His split is major league," Holliday said. "No one has hit it on the nose this year."

Shunick has been the Pack's starter on Fridays for ACC series and will be on the mound today as State (33-15, 15-8 ACC) plays the first of three games at Maryland (28-24, 8-19). Freshman Jake Buchanan (1-1, 2.51) will start Saturday, and Sogard (3-1, 2.70) will go Sunday.

Buchanan replaces Eric Surkamp, a junior lefty who made the All-ACC second team last season but has had his ups and downs during this campaign. Senior right-hander Eryk McConnell was the Sunday starter, but his struggles caused Holliday to turn to Sogard.

Holliday said Surkamp (4-2, 4.81) has a small flaw with his release point that causes wildness but also may be fighting "junior-itis" -- too many thoughts about being eligible for the Major League Baseball draft after the season and trying to impress pro scouts.

Surkamp's walk rate has jumped considerably, from 2.5 BB/9IP in 2007 to 4.3 BB/9IP in 2008. But he's also striking out more guys--10.7 K/9 this year versus 7.9 K/9 last season--which makes up for some of the increased wildness. He's also been unlucky with regard to hits on balls in play.

While Surkamp misses a lot of bats and maintains a good K/BB ratio despite the control issues, the same can't be said for McConnell, who is both walking more batters and striking out fewer guys since moving from the bullpen to the rotation:
 K/9 BB/9
2007 6.0 1.9
2008 4.1 3.3
It's tough to be a successful starter with peripherals like that.

-- Softball won its ACC tournament opener against Georgia Tech yesterday on the strength of more great pitching from the groundball machine herself, Lindsay Campana. Have I mentioned lately that she kicks ass? The Pack will face UNC at 5:30 this evening.

-- JP Giglio paints a pretty bleak picture for ACC football in 2008.