While David F. Couch Ballpark is known for being a hitter’s park, it was the impressive improvement on the mound in 2021 that fueled a 21-game improvement in the win-loss record a season ago for the Demon Deacons.
With new pitching coach Corey Muscara‘s leadership and the continued utilization of the state-of-the-art pitching lab, Wake Forest dropped its team ERA more than a full point on their way to earning an NCAA Tournament appearance.
With the weekend rotation and two of the top three relievers from last season returning, coupled with some key transfer additions, Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter is confident the best is yet to come.
“We brought in a transfer from Tulane, Michael Massey, who has had a great fall,” Walter said. “We really like him and the work he has done. He’s a 94-to-96 MPH kind of right hander who commands the ball really well, throws strikes to both sides of the plate, and has a good changeup and a good slider.
“Then you have the number one at Northwestern last year, Sean Sullivan, who’s kind of a unique unicorn type guy. He’s a lefty that throws from a kind of a funky arm slot but the ball rides. It’s almost like a version of Josh Hader (San Diego Padres) to some degree because it’s just really deceptive. It’s not what the hitter expects. So he’s had a good summer on the Cape and from all accounts he was the best pitcher in the Big 10 last year as a freshman.”
Sullivan was 5-2 in 13 starts last season for Northwestern, finishing the year with a 4.45 ERA. Massey had a better than 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio while finishing the 2022 campaign with three wins for the Green Wave.
“So we add those two guys, and have (Rhett) Lowder, (Teddy) McGraw, (Josh) Hartle and (Cam) Minacci who have all taken a really big step forward,” Walter said. “Seth Keener has also taken a really big step forward. Those are kind of our top seven guys and then you have guys like Reed Mascolo, who’s kind of a proven guy who’s just continuing to get better. You get Crawford Wade who had a good year for us last year, is now a year older. So that takes you to nine pitchers you can count on.”
It’s not just the talent on the mound that has Walter excited, but also the depth, and the ability to use that depth situationally during the 2023 season.
“Joe Ariola is a freshman lefty that got six-straight outs against Tennessee to close out…