Home Jay Woolfolk tweaked his knee last week: Is he ready to go at the College World Series?
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Jay Woolfolk tweaked his knee last week: Is he ready to go at the College World Series?

Chris Graham
jay woolfolk
Photo: Chris Graham/AFP

Jay Woolfolk, who got a visit from the trainer after landing awkwardly following a pitch in the third inning of Virginia’s 10-4 win over Kansas State in the Super Regional clincher on Saturday, was wearing a protective sleeve during UVA’s open practice at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha on Thursday.

The right knee could affect the drive leg providing the power for a right-handed pitcher.

You see this, and you’d be concerned that Woolfolk might not be at 100 percent heading into the 2024 College World Series, if he’s available to go at all.

Good news: “He’s great. He’s ready to roll.”

That was UVA coach Brian O’Connor at today’s post-practice press conference.

Sigh of relief there, right?

Woolfolk has been the difference-maker for the UVA pitching staff in the 2024 postseason, getting wins in both of the clinchers as the ‘Hoos have played their way into their seventh CWS appearance in 15 years.

The junior, who began the season as the third starter in O’Connor’s weekend rotation, was demoted to the bullpen after a series of rough starts in February and March, and didn’t exactly pitch his way back into O’Connor’s and pitching coach Drew Dickinson’s good graces.

In 24.2 innings out of the bullpen after the demotion, Woolfolk pitched to a 5.84 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP, with 20 walks in those 24.2 innings.

What he’s done the past two weekends, then – Woolfolk went eight-plus in the 9-2 win over Mississippi State in the Regional clincher, giving up two runs on eight hits, striking out seven and walking one, and gave up three runs on six hits in six and a third in the win over K State, striking out seven and walking two – is nothing short of remarkable.

Not only did Woolfolk get the Ws in both of the clinchers, but he’s eating up innings, and doing so efficiently and effectively, as have the other two UVA starters, Evan Blanco and Joe Savino, which has allowed O’Connor to get the ball to the back end of his bullpen – freshman Matt Augustin, who seems to have taken over the role of closer, lefty short man Angelo Tonas and righty setup man Chase Hungate.

The result: the pitching staff had a team ERA hovering near 6.00 most of the 2024 season; in the postseason to this point, the staff has a 3.00 ERA, and the bullpen has been lights-out, allowing just one run in 12 innings, for a 0.75 ERA.

Woolfolk’s emergence as a viable #2 starter is why this Virginia team has gone from #12 national seed to a College World Series berth.

That’s why the sleeve on his right knee at today’s practice got my attention.

“I talked to him today after he threw. He felt great,” O’Connor said, stressing that the sleeve is “just a little precautionary.

“He is ready to go in the World Series and will be pitching for us. There’s no issue from that standpoint,” O’Connor said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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