|MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE|
|HOW THEY'LL FINISH|
|1. +Texas Christian (24)||17||5||39||23|
|2. San Diego State||14||8||23||36|
|3. Brigham Young||14||8||33||28|
|4. Nevada-Las Vegas||12||10||29||30|
|5. New Mexico||10||12||30||29|
|7. Air Force||1||21||10||38|
|Projected NCAA Teams (2): Texas Christian, San Diego State.|
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins March 15.
Conference Tournament: Seven teams, May 22-26 at Las Vegas.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMC--Andrew Walker, Jr., Texas Christian (.304-9-42). 1B--Jay Brossman, Sr., Utah (.354-10-57). 2B--Jordan Pacheco, Jr., New Mexico (.351-5-43). 3B--Ian Hollick, Jr., New Mexico (.376-11-65). SS--Bryan Kervin, Jr., Texas Christian (.329-2-41). OF--Austin Adams, Sr., Texas Christian (.347-4-27); Clint Arnold, Jr., Texas Christian (.291-3-43 at Arkansas); Keith Smith, Sr., Nevada-Las Vegas (.359-14-71). DH--Apana Nakayama, Sr., Brigham Young (.344-10-47 in 2005).
P--Jake Arrieta, Jr., Texas Christian (14-4, 2.35, 111 SO); Jesse Craig, Sr., Brigham Young (7-7, 4.70); Steven Hirshfeld, Jr., San Diego State (10-0, 1.57 at CC of Southern Nevada). RP--Sam Demel, Jr., Texas Christian (6-6, 4.08, 6 SV, 100 SO).
Player of the Year: Jordan Pacheco, 2b, New Mexico.
Pitcher of the Year: Jake Arrieta, rhp, Texas Christian.
Top Newcomers:: 1. Donnie Hume, lhp, San Diego State (Tr.--Long Beach State). 2. Troy Hanzawa, ss, San Diego State (Tr.--Yavapai, Ariz., JC). 3. Clint Arnold, of, Texas Christian (Tr.--Arkansas). 4. Steven Hirshfeld, rhp, San Diego State (Tr.--CC of Southern Nevada). 5. Chance Corgan, rhp, Texas Christian (Tr.--Texas A&M).
TOP PROSPECTS, 2007-08 DRAFTS
1. Jake Arrieta, rhp, Texas Christian
2. Andrew Walker, c, Texas Christian
3. Jesse Craig, rhp, Brigham Young
• The Mountain West Conference has expanded to a 24-game schedule this season, with teams playing two three-game series against a selected opponent to provide another weekend of conference action.
• Texas Christian coach Jim Schlossnagle says this year's Horned Frogs team is one of the most experienced he has ever coached, and a lot of that added experience will come from junior-college and four-year transfers. Junior RHP Jake Arrieta, who shared conference pitcher of the year honors last season after going 14-4, 2.35, returns to lead the pitching staff, but the arms behind him will be RHP Chance Corgan (from Texas A&M) and RHP Chris Johnson (from Logan, Utah, JC). Similarly, all-conference OF Austin Adams returns to anchor the lineup, but the team will also be counting on OF Clint Arnold, who comes over from Arkansas. TCU will also get a boost from DH Matt McGuirk, who hit .340 in 2005 but missed all of last season because of injury.
|San Diego: Toreros have become kind of a big deal|
|UCLA: John Savage's Bruins have established themselves as early 2008 favorite|
|Nevada: Victim of its own success, Wolf Pack loses recruits, seniors to pros|
|Washington: Lapped by Oregon State as top dog in Pacific Northwest|
• San Diego State got off to a terrible start last season but turned it on during the conference schedule, creating plenty of optimism for newly minted Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The team returns just nine lettermen from last season but has added plenty of talent, with 10 of the new players having been drafted at some point during their amateur days. The Aztecs will count on RHP Steven Hirshfeld, who went 10-0, 1.57 at the College of Southern Nevada last season, to stabilize their weekend rotation, and his Southern Nevada teammate Cam Johnson will man center field. 2B Garrett Green, who hit .383 last year at Cypress (Calif.) Junior College, and SS Troy Hanzawa, a defensive whiz from Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College, also will play key roles.
• An experienced, deep pitching staff gives Brigham Young reason to hope for a return to regional play. Three seniors will play important roles, with RHP Jesse Craig serving as the Friday starter and RHP Josh Barrett as the closer. The lineup is much younger but could have more talent, with only one upperclassman expected to get regular at-bats. That would be senior DH Apana Nakayama, who missed last season with a knee injury but hit .344-10-7 in 2005. He's a disciplined line-drive hitter with power.
|WEST COAST CONFERENCE|
|HOW THEY'LL FINISH|
|1. Pepperdine (19)||15||6||42||21|
|2. San Diego||13||8||33||25|
|4. Loyola Marymount||11||10||24||32|
|5. Santa Clara||9||12||28||26|
|7. Saint Mary's||9||12||26||25|
|Projected NCAA Teams (3): Pepperdine, San Diego, San Francisco.|
Conference Schedule: 21 games. Schedule begins March 30.
Conference Tournament: Best-of-three series between top two teams, May 25-27.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMC--Jordan Abruzzo, Sr., San Diego (.314-8-58). 1B--A.J. LaMonda, Sr., Loyola Marymount (.273-2-25). 2B--Eric Farris, Jr., Loyola Marymount (.332-1-28, 18 SB). 3B--Chase d'Arnaud, So., Pepperdine (.282-2-22). SS--Danny Worth, Jr., Pepperdine (.310-3-38). OF--Josh Romanski, So., San Diego (.287-4-20); Adrian Ortiz, Jr., Pepperdine (.340-1-28, 10 SB); Shane Buschini, Sr., San Diego (.290-5-32). DH--Sean Dovel, Jr., Loyola Marymount (.311-2-26).
P--Aaron Poreda, Jr., San Francisco (8-5, 2.49); Brad Meyers, Jr., Loyola Marymount (8-4, 3.23); Brian Matusz, So., San Diego (4-3, 4.25). RP--Brett Hunter, So., Pepperdine (5-3, 2.83, 11 SV).
Player of the Year: Eric Farris, 2b, Loyola Marymount.
Pitcher of the Year: Brian Matusz, San Diego.
Top Newcomers:: 1. Tommy Peale, rhp, San Francisco (Tr.--Long Beach CC). 2. Jon Harmston, lhp, Pepperdine (HS--Fresno, Calif.). 3. Angelo Songco, of, Loyola Marymount (HS--Granada Hills, Calif.) 4. James Meador, of, San Diego (HS--Ramona, Calif.). 5. Eric Thames, of, Pepperdine (Tr.--West Valley JC).
TOP PROSPECTS 2007-08 DRAFTS
1. Brad Meyers, rhp, Loyola Marymount
2. #Brian Matusz, lhp, San Diego
3. Brett Hunter, rhp, Pepperdine
4. Aaron Poreda, lhp, San Francisco
5. Eric Farris, 2b, Loyola Marymount
• Pepperdine won the West Coast Conference regular season title last year and hosted a regional as a No. 1 seed--before getting upset by No. 4 seed Missouri--and returns much of the talent from that team, so the Waves will have even higher expectations this season. Dynamic junior CF Adrian Ortiz hit .340 last season and stole 10 bases, and he has the speed to change the game on offense and defense. Junior RHP Barry Enright is back as the Friday starter after going 13-2 last season. Closer Brett Hunter was a second-team Freshman All-American last year, and he fronts a class of sophomores that should make Pepperdine a formidable team for the next two years. Four other sophomores will start in the field, including 3B Chase d'Arnaud and DH Eric Thames, who hit .376-8-31 last season.
• San Diego also will aim higher in 2007 after reaching regionals last season but going out in three games. Second-team Freshman All-American Brian Matusz emerged as the best pitcher on the staff last year, so he'll occupy that role from the beginning of the season this year, backed by fellow sophomore (and lefty) Josh Romanski. Upperclassmen will dominate the lineup, with three seniors--C Jordan Abruzzo, 1B Daniel Magness and OF Shane Buschini--providing plenty of sock from the left side (Abruzzo is a switch-hitter).
|The top 5 non-conference series involving
rivals? Hardly, but we like it|
|Texas at Long Beach
when Augie Garrido goes back to Cali|
|Wichita State at
|Shockers bring West Coast style from Great
Diego State at Southern California|
|Big league alumni coaches face
|UCLA at Cal State
will have their defensive chops tested|
• San Francisco was the league's surprise team last season, winning 39 games, tying for the regular season title and then beating Pepperdine in the conference championship series to win the school's first-ever regional bid under coach Nino Giarratano. The Dons will try to build on that this year with a veteran pitching staff led by junior LHP Aaron Poreda, who went 8-5, 2.49 last season. Poreda has a big league body at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds and throws in the low 90s, but he hasn't received as much draft hype as some other players because he did not play last summer. The team's No. 2 starter is junior RHP Tommy Peale, who compiled a 16-0, 1.48 record last season.
• It's not clear that Loyola Marymount will have enough depth to challenge for the league title, but the Lions have two strong players to lead the way. RHP Brad Meyers may be the best professional prospect in the conference, but his 3.23 ERA is more than a run better than any other pitcher expected to have a prominent role on this year's staff. Like Poreda, Meyers did not pitch last summer, but he was one of the top prospects in the Cape Cod League in 2005 after his freshman season. His brother Greg is also on the team. The offense will be led by 2B Eric Farris, who went from a temporary contract in the Cape Cod League last summer to batting .298 for Cotuit and winning all-league honors at second. Again, though, the rest of the lineup is unsettled heading into the season, with at least two freshmen being counted on to step right in: OF Angelo Songco and 3B Ryan Wheeler.
• If you're looking for a team to watch for the future, then monitor the progress of Saint Mary's this season under fourth-year coach Jedd Soto. The team will be dominated by freshman and junior-college transfers this season and could take its lumps in what should be a strong year for the league, but players like RHP Sean Gleason and 1B Michael Gonzales have upgraded the team's talent level.
|WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE|
|HOW THEY'LL FINISH|
|2. Louisiana Tech||11||13||33||25|
|5. San Jose State||12||12||33||26|
|6. Sacramento State||8||16||20||37|
|7. New Mexico State||6||18||19||36|
Projected NCAA Teams (2): Hawaii, Louisiana Tech.
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins March 2.
Conference Tournament: Seven teams, May 24-27 at Reno (Nevada).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMC--Adam Harvey, Sr., New Mexico State (.333-12-54). 1B--Albie Goulder, Sr., Louisiana Tech (.290-6-40). 2B--Gary Johnson, Sr., Sacramento State (.312-2-18). 3B--David Flores, Jr., Sacramento State (.331-3-28). SS--Erik Wetzel, So., Fresno State (.325-1-27). OF-- Ryan Angel, Jr., San Jose State (.318-5-36, 16 SB); Jericho Jones, So. Louisiana Tech (.357-16-56); Steve Susdorf, Jr., Fresno State (.329-14-49, 63 R). DH--Justin Frash, Sr., Hawaii (.359-3-56, 49 R).
P-- Luke Burnett, So., Louisiana Tech (4-6, 4.23); Matt Daly, So., Hawaii (6-2, 3.25); Ryan Rupert, Sr., Louisiana Tech (3-6, 4.83 in 2005). RP--Brandon Hudson, Sr., Louisiana Tech (2-0, 2.25, 21 SV).
Player of the Year: Jericho Jones, of, Louisiana Tech.
Pitcher of the Year: Luke Burnett, rhp, Louisiana Tech.
Top Newcomers:: 1. Tom Mendonca, 3b, Fresno State (HS--Turlock, Calif.). 2. Konrad Schmidt, c, Nevada (Tr.--Arizona). 3. Rod Scurry, rhp, Nevada (Tr.--Sierra, Calif., JC). 4. D.J. Butler, 1b, Fresno State (Tr.--Arizona State). 5. Kyle Bellows, inf, San Jose State (HS--San Jose, Calif.).
TOP PROSPECTS, 2007-08 DRAFT
1. Jericho Jones, of, Louisiana Tech
2. David Flores, 3b, Sacramento State
3. Ozzie Lewis, of, Fresno State
4. Luke Burnett, rhp, Louisiana State
5. Justin Wilson, lhp, Fresno State
• Defending conference champion Fresno State will rely on sophomore Erik Wetzel and a veteran offense to get back to regionals. Wetzel batted .325 as a freshman, while playing second base, and he could slide over to shortstop this season. Junior outfielder Ozzie Lewis came on strong at the end of last season, winning MVP honors in the Western Athletic Conference tournament, and he was the team's best player in regionals. Senior Brandon Miller will have to step in as the Friday starter after the Bulldogs saw all three of their weekend starters from last season drafted last June.
• Louisiana Tech will look to make a move back into regionals as the steady progress under coach Wade Simoneaux continues. Simoneaux, whose first season at Tech was 2003 after he served as Tony Robichaux's top assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette, had the Bulldogs on top of the WAC halfway through the conference schedule last year, but they faltered down the stretch and finished fifth. Tech has not been to regionals since 1987, but has legitimate hope this year with an offense led by dynamic right fielder Jericho Jones and a pitching staff fronted by righthanders Luke Burnett and Ryan Rupert. Jones was a second team Freshman All-American last year after batting .357 with 16 home runs. Burnett is also a sophomore and struck out 73 in 72 innings last year. Rupert was the staff ace two years ago, striking out 80 in 82 innings, but he missed last year because of injury. Simoneaux has also spearheaded renovations at J.C. Love Field, with a new paint job, new locker room and new outfield fence, and almost all of the work has been done by the coaches and players.
|The five programs in the West that score highest in our programs of the decade study:|
|4. Cal State Fullerton||Big West|
|10. Southern California||Pac-10|
|13. Arizona State||Pac-10|
|15. Long Beach State||Big West|
Louisiana Tech baseball is also a family affair, with three sets of brothers on the 2007 squad: Albie and Ollie Goulder, Drew and Patrick Thomas, and Dennis and Kevin Winn. At least one of each duo is expected to start: Albie Goulder at first, Drew Thomas at catcher and Dennis Winn--a senior transfer from Western Kentucky--at shortstop.
• The five-year plan at Hawaii worked perfectly for coach Mike Trapasso, who guided the Rainbows to their first regional appearance since 1993 last year in a 45-17 season that included a regional final loss to eventual national champion Oregon State. Continuing that success in year six will fall to senior DH/third baseman Justin Frash, who hit .359 last year, and righthander Matt Daly, who hopes to build on a solid freshman year when he went 6-2, 3.25.
• Nevada coach Gary Powers said he expects to have a deeper, more experienced team than the 2006 squad that went 26-28, and if that turns out to be the case it will be thanks to an influx of junior college talent and two Division I transfers. Except for senior righthander Ryan Rodriguez, who will be the Friday starter, just about every other significant pitcher on the staff will be a juco transfer. The group is led by righthander Rod Scurry, who helped Sierra Junior College to the California juco final four last season. Two seniors, catcher Konrad Schmidt from Arizona and shortstop Chris Siewert, will be expected to bolster the lineup.
• Coach Sam Piraro returns for his 20th season at the helm of San Jose State, and he welcomes the progeny of a former Spartans coach into the program. Righthander Scott Sobczak, who comes in from Skyline (Calif.) Junior College, is the grandson of Ed Sobczak, who was San Jose State's coach from 1957-69. He'll have to battle for innings on a senior-dominated pitching staff that will be led by righthander Josh Amberson, who went 6-4, 4.22 last season. The offense will be led by Ryan Angel, a versatile athlete who can play five different positions but should man center field most of the time.
+ 2006 conference tournament
champion; 2006 NCAA regional participants in bold; 2006 records listed;
2007 national rankings in parentheses