BOCA RATON – FAU’s beleaguered pitching staff will receive a boost this weekend with the return of weekend starters Jake Miednik and Mark Nowatnick.
Miednik, FAU’s ace, draws the start in Thursday’s series opener against Western Kentucky. Nowatnick will get the ball in Saturday’s regular season finale.
Vince Coletti, who started the previous two Friday night games in Miednik’s absence, will pitch on Friday with normal rest.
FAU coach John McCormack intends to treat this week’s final series of the regular season as though it is ace Jake Miednik’s rehab assignment.
Battling shoulder tendinitis, Miednik missed his last two starts and three of his last four.
McCormack hopes to use him in a limited basis against Western Kentucky.
“If I had my wishes and of course it’s up to his health, my wishes would be that he would start on Thursday and whatever we would get out of him, great,” McCormack said. “If we get five [innings], then we have 22 innings to worry about for the rest of the weekend.”
Miednik threw a bullpen on Monday and tossed again on Tuesday. He will be on a limited pitch count.
McCormack would like to use the lefty early in the series to ensure he gets work and to gain some certainty about the remainder of the weekend’s pitching plans.
A weekend appearance would also provide Miednik with some meaningful innings heading into next week’s Conference USA tournament.
Injured at the start of the season, Nowatnick began the year in the Owls’ bullpen. He moved into the weekend rotation following Kyle Marman’s season-ending elbow injury and pitched well until straining his oblique on April 22 against Rice. He hasn’t pitched since.
Having Miednik and Nowatnick healthy and back in the rotation should bolster an FAU team that’s battling to secure an NCAA tournament at-large bid. After a couple of tumultuous weeks, FAU steadied itself by taking two of three at Middle Tennessee this past weekend, improving its RPI to 29 in the process.
“It’s important that we continue to play well,” McCormack said. “Just for us in general to be heading to the conference tournament on a good note.”
Of course, the Owls could claim the bid guaranteed to C-USA by winning next week’s tournament. FAU enters the final weekend conference play with an outside chance of surpassing C-USA leader Southern Miss.
The Owls currently sit in second place, two-and-a-half games behind the Golden Eagles and a half game ahead of Louisiana Tech. Depending on the weekend results, FAU could finish anywhere from first to fifth in the standings.
A forecast filled with rain could also complicate this week’s play.