College Preview Capsules: No. 16 Southern California

No. 16 Southern Californiasoutherncalifornia
2015 Record (Ranking): 39-21. RPI: 25.
Coach (Record at school): Dan Hubbs (88-81, 3 years).
Postseason History: 37 regionals (active streak: 1), 21 CWS trips (last in 2001), 12 national titles (last in 1998).

After 10 long years, Southern California finally worked its way back into the NCAA tournament in 2015, relying on a mix of veteran leadership and draft-ready athleticism to get there.

The Trojans were on the cusp of advancing to a super regional but fell to eventual national champion Virginia in a topsy-turvy 11-inning regional battle. Despite the loss, the Trojans return this season hungry to get back to the tournament for a second straight year.

2016 Lineup
C Jeremy Martinez, Jr. .296 .395 .367 1 45 0
1B Dillon Paulson, Fr. HS—Solana Beach, Calif.
2B Frankie Rios, R-So. DNP—Injured
3B Adalberto Carrillo, So. .245 .302 .347 1 3 1
SS Reggie Southall, R-Jr. .250 .362 .320 1 19 10
LF Corey Dempster, Jr. .179 .207 .179 0 4 4
CF Timmy Robinson, Sr. .295 .391 .442 7 53 19
RF A.J. Ramirez, Sr. .259 .307 .476 9 45 9
DH David Oppenheim, Sr. .284 .406 .392 3 27 3
Pos. Name, Year W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Kyle Davis, Sr. 3 3 4.05 94 45 6
RHP Mitch Hart, So. 7 3 4.07 86 51 0
RHP Brent Wheatley, Sr. 4 4 4.50 70 63 0
RP Marc Huberman, Sr. 6 4 2.36 50 48 4

“I think the thing we’re trying to focus on now is last year is last year, and we have to be the best team we can be this year,” coach Dan Hubbs said. “They’re not going to give you a ticket to the regional because you went last year. And the mark of a good program is going to be: Can you repeat it?”

The Trojans bring back much of last year’s group, including seven key senior returnees, although they face the tough task of replacing first-team All-America catcher Garrett Stubbs (.346/.435/.434) and left fielder Bobby Stahel (.376/.419/.514) at the top of the order.

USC could have an answer in switch-hitting shortstop Reggie Southall, who “played out of this world” in the Lake Elsinore Regional last year, Hubbs said. Southall has the most speed on the team but needs to cut down on strikeouts in order to better utilize it. He could hit at the top of the order with junior left fielder Corey Dempster, whom Hubbs said took major strides in the fall.

“His skill set is similar to Bobby (Stahel)’s in that he can be a sparkplug,” Hubbs said. “The same issues that Bobby had early in his career, striking out too much, trying to do too much, Corey’s had, but I think we’re seeing some signs of him breaking out of that.”

The middle of the order should be set with the return of seniors Timmy Robinson and A.J. Ramirez, while freshman first baseman Dillon Paulson showed enough in the fall to be considered for the five-hole. Junior Jeremy Martinez shifts from DH to catcher to try to fill Stubbs’ shoes.

Where USC should be strongest is on the pitching staff, which returns ace righthander Kyle Davis, standout freshman Mitch Hart and veteran righthander Brent Wheatley.

Due to an ankle sprain and, later, a groin pull, Davis spent last season split between the rotation and the closer’s role. But Davis has frontline stuff, which he showed by throwing six no-hit innings against Virginia in the regional last year.

“He’s been great. He’s been healthy,” Hubbs said. “The biggest thing with him is he’s never really had that week-after-week grind for 15 weeks.”

Junior lefthander Bernando Flores, up to 95 mph, and touted freshman righthander Marrick Crouse could both see starts this year, as well. The Trojans also have experience in the bullpen with senior lefthander Marc Huberman at the back end and arms like Brooks Kriske, Andrew Wright and Jeff Paschke capable of filling late-inning roles.

“I think more than anything, there’s a lot of depth, a lot of flexibility in position players,” Hubbs said. “We have a good combination of power and pitchability on the mound, so I’m excited about that.”

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone