Cavalier Corner

April 2016

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BY MIKE SCANDURA T HE LAST THING University of Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor wants to do is think about what may have happened if then-rookie Pavin Smith hadn't been able to play in the College World Series that the Cavaliers captured a year ago. During the course of last season, Smith ex- perienced soreness in his left elbow. Instead of immediately undergoing Tommy John surgery, an operation was postponed until July. "I think it would have been significantly more difficult to win the national champion- ship without him," O'Connor said. "He was a middle-of-the-order hitter and had a fantastic College World Series [Smith hit .302 with seven RBI]." As for Smith, the possibility of season-end- ing surgery was put in the rear-view mirror. "I wasn't concerned," Smith said. "Dr. [James] Andrews has done numerous Tommy John surgeries. His timeline was six months. "I had the operation last July, so I knew I would be able to play this season." All Smith did last season was become the first rookie to lead an NCAA championship team in hits (83) since at least 2000; become the first first-year to lead Virginia in hits since Bill Narleski in 1984; rank second on the team with 23 multiple-hit games; hit a team-high .341 after the exam break (he finished the sea- son at .307 with seven homers and 44 RBI); earn Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America, D1 Baseball and Louis- ville Slugger; and land a spot on the ACC All- Freshman Team. "He certainly had one of the best first-year seasons we've ever had," O'Connor said. "The expectations coming into this season were high. He's a very talented, capable player who benefitted from the experience he had last year. "As great a year that he had last year, he do- ing even better this year. He has a better under- standing of what to expect and what pitchers are trying to do to him." ANOTHER LEVEL After Helping UVA Win The National Championship, Pavin Smith Has Elevated His Play Even More

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