The weather is getting warmer. The seats at Davenport Stadium are getting harder to come by. And the games on the field are getting more important.
It's getting to be Brian O'Connor's favorite time of the year.
"We're really looking forward to it. I know our fans are looking forward to it," O'Connor said on Thursday, as his Virginia baseball team prepared to host a three-game series at home against Clemson this weekend.
"We have beautiful weather here in Charlottesville," O'Connor said. "Two really good ballclubs. Clemson's got a very, very good team. They're a veteran team, position-wise. It will be a great test for both ballclubs, and should be a fun weekend."
Clemson comes to Charlottesville this weekend ranked No. 14 in the country, according to Baseball America. The Tigers will take the field on Friday in third place in the ACC Atlantic Division at 9-5, with a 4-1 record on the road in the conference.
UVa is 12-3 in the league, and starts the weekend a game in front of Miami for first place in the Coastal Division. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 2 by Baseball America this week -- and on Thursday the website had UVa as the No. 1 national seed in its midseason projection for the NCAA field of 64.
"We're just excited. We feel prepared; we're ready to go," UVa sophomore infielder John La Prise said Thursday. "We'll have a nice, good practice today. And just not change anything. Just keep everything simple. Just have fun, do what we do every day."
La Prise was a freshman the last time the Cavaliers lost an ACC game at Davenport Field -- a 4-3 loss to Miami on March 31, 2013. Since that game, UVa has won 12 straight home games against conference opponents, including a three-game sweeps of Boston College and Virginia Tech this season.
UVa's last ACC series loss at home was a three-game sweep by North Carolina two years ago this weekend -- April 13-15, 2012.
"It definitely gives us a lot of confidence," said La Prise. "Just always playing the game the right way -- hustling, working hard every day at practice, game speed every day, so that when we get in the games, you're just having fun and you're used to it."
"I'm looking forward to our guys going out there and competing," said O'Connor. "When you have veteran leadership like we have, that has been in the trenches and these big ballgames, I'm confident that they'll be ready to perform."