The Division I college baseball season is two months old, with the homestretch in sight. As teams fight for conference crowns and jockey for positioning in the NCAA Tournament, several programs throughout the Mid-Atlantic and southeast are enjoying strong rookie seasons from former Dirtbags. Performing in ways which would have opposing coaches question their freshman status, here’s a look at a dozen standout seasons from former Dirtbags in their first college season.
Philip Clarke, Vanderbilt
From Franklin, Tenn., Clarke, when not behind the plate for the Commodores, has been a force at the plate for head coach Tim Corbin. Clarke’s .301 batting average ranks third on the team, with eight doubles and two home runs helping him slug .425.
Jarrad DeLarso, Richmond
A native of Marlton, New Jersey, DeLarso’s career is off to a solid start in the Commonwealth State. The right-handed pitcher has been called on 11 times out of the Spiders’ bullpen, pitching 13 innings. DeLarso holds a a 4.85 ERA with a .269 batting average against with nine strikeouts.
Zach Franklin, Western Carolina
The numbers jump off of the page when checking in on Franklin’s first season as a Catamount. In 27.1 innings, the right-hander has struck out 35 batters, nearly tripling the number of walks issued, 12. Although he has yet to record his first collegiate victory, Franklin has recorded as a save and dons a team-leading 3.29 ERA.
Gage Herring, North Carolina-Wilmington
Herring has appeared in 10 games for the Seahawks, making four starts to total 26 innings of work. With the way he’s pitched, it’s only a matter of time until Herring is a full-time starter. With a microscopic .169 opponent’s batting average, Herring 2.08 ERA leads pitchers with at least 25 innings of work. The right-handed has racked up 22 strikeouts to 15 hits surrendered in 26 innings.
Mason Hickman, Vanderbilt
Like Clarke, Hickman opted to stay in-state for college, heading to Nashville from Hendersonville. The 6’6 right-handed pitcher has often treated SEC hitters like the preps he once dominated, racking up 40 strikeouts to 13 walks in 39.1 innings. With a 4.35 ERA, Hickman sports a team-best 6-1 record.
Bryce Jarvis, Duke
The Blue Devils lead the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division, and the Blue Devils’ 30 wins are the most in the ACC. Having no problem stepping into a key role and coming up big for one of the country’s top clubs is Jarvis. Making four starts over 14 appearances, Jarvis has a 2.49 ERA over 25.1 innings. The righty has recorded 39 strikeouts to just 13 walks, stymieing the competition with a .138 batting average against.
Reid Johnston, North Carolina State
Racking five times as many strikeouts to walks issued is usually the sign of a polished pitcher. That’s what Johnston is doing as a freshman in Raleigh. The Rocky Mount Academy product has logged four saves over 13 appearances while also sporting a 4-0. But most impressive, even more than his 2.48 ERA in 29 innings, is the 21 strikeouts to four walks for the rookie.
Josh Madole, North Carolina-Greensboro
Appearing in every game this season for UNCG, Madole is showing the plate presence of a player beyond his years. The first baseman from Hampstead, N.C., has eight doubles and a triple while batting ..288, but his on-base percentage jumps to .408 when adding the 21 walks to 18 strikeouts, one of only two Spartans with more walks than strikeouts.
Keir Meredith, Clemson
Although he has been limited to 19 at-bats in five starts, Meredith has shown glimpse of the promise which made him a highly-sought recruit. In five hits, Meredith has a triple and home run, slugging .526, next to a .440 on-base percentage, while stealing four bases in five attempts, more than all but one Clemson Tiger.
Landon Roupp, North Carolina-Wilmington
The second of two Dirtbags shining as freshmen at UNCW, an 0-1 record doesn’t do justice the season the native of Rocky Mount, N.C., is having for the Seahawks. Appearing in seven games, all starts, Roupp sports a 3.03 ERA over 32.2 innings. The right-handed pitcher has struck out 34 batters, leading to a .191 batting average against.
Sam Weatherly, Clemson
A Dirtbag all the way from Michigan, Weatherly has shown the strikeout stuff which made him one of the Midwest’s top 2017 MLB Draft prospects. Weatherly has punched out 12 of the 41 batters he’s faced this season, holding a .293 batting average against over 10.2 innings in three starts.
Bryson Worrell, East Carolina
Worrell has made two start for the Pirates, appearing in 18 games total. A solid .261 average over 23 at-bats rests for the backstop from Sims, N.C., composed of three singles, a double, a triple, and a home run, leading to a .522 slugging percentage.