The nationally-ranked Wake Forest baseball team is ramping up for their highly-anticipated 2020 season. With the Deacons bringing back a plethora of veteran talent, the team will start the season ranked No. 19 in the country. It won’t be an easy one, as Wake Forest will go through a gauntlet of a schedule which boosts five ranked teams including No. 1 Louisville.
Wake Forest’s 2020 roster does not lack in talent. From the plate to the mound, the Deacons will have their best roster since the 2017 season that made it to the NCAA super regional, according to junior DJ Poteet in an interview last week.
“This is the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been here. They are comparing us to the 2017 team who lost by one run to Florida and eventually went on to win the College World Series,” Poteet said.
Even with the high ranking and on-paper preseason stats, the Deacons face competition with some of the best teams in the country. Poteet emphasized the fact that a ranking means nothing at the beginning of the season.
“It’s exciting to get ranked high, but at the end of the day it doesn’t mean anything. We still gotta go out there and win,” he said.
The Deacons boast one of the top lineups in the country, which revolves around the 2019 ACC player of the year, junior Bobby Seymour. The first baseman will anchor the middle of the lineup, having batted a staggering .377 last season while driving in a whopping 92 runs. Along with Seymour, the Deacons can rely on an experienced group of juniors including infielder Chris Lanzili, outfielders Michael Louodwig, Poteet and two-way player Shane Muntz.
Poteet emphasized the lethality of this offense.
“I don’t think we are lacking in any category; we may have the best offense in the ACC and possibly the country,” he said.
This core group of juniors will be the leaders of the Deacs this year, according to junior pitcher Antonio Menendez.
“An X Factor on the team is leadership. [The] last couple years it’s been lacking. Now that we are upperclassmen, it’s our responsibility to get the morale and chemistry better,” Menendez said. “I think at least with the pitching staff I try and lead by example.” Menendez, a right-handed pitcher, was the top man out of the pen in 2019.
This season, Menendez is one of the four pitchers competing for starting spots. Besides him, the Deacs will be relying on juniors William Flemming and Jared Shuster, and sophomore Ryan Cusick. Menendez explained the pitching plan.
“We have four guys to start in the ACC, so the first couple weeks you will see us compete and they will pick the best three of us to continue on that path and the fourth person may be a weekday starter guy or maybe out of the pen,” he said. With all that being said, the Deacs have high hopes for the season. It is Omaha or bust.
“Not to get there; to win,” Poteet said.
Wake Forest will open the season hosting Seton Hall on Feb. 14 at the David F. Couch Ballpark.