On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by Connecticut coach Jim Penders to discuss the excitement around his 2021 team, the program’s new stadium, the move to the Big East and working in the world of politics right out of college.
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UConn had some ups and downs in 2020, but it was clear the talent was there for the Huskies to be a regional team once again. That potential (and then some) exists for the 2021 season also. The lineup looks more physical than it has been in the past thanks to the presence of Erik Stock, the Fedko brothers, Christian and Kyler, Reggie Crawford and Chris Winkel.
On the mound, they have to replace Nick Krauth, their top starter from a year ago, but they return veterans like Joe Simeone and Colby Dunlop with plenty of starting experience. In the bullpen, Crawford, who made just one appearance last season, has a big arm and could help lock down the back end.
The move back to the Big East will be a big change for the Huskies. Not only does it feel more like home for a university more closely associated with the Big East than the American Athletic Conference, but it promises to reduce travel expenses for the baseball team and make travel easier for a team used to spending huge chunks of time on the weekends sitting around airports coming to and from far-flung conference series. The quality of baseball might not quite be as good in the Big East as the AAC, but that shouldn’t hold UConn back from continuing to be a consistent postseason team.