Jan. 20, 2009
The preseason accolades continue to roll in for the West Coast Conference as yet another publication, Baseball America, has awarded two WCC teams a spot in its preseason top 25 poll. The University of San Diego comes in at No. 11, its highest preseason ranking to date, while Pepperdine checks in at No. 17. San Diego, ranked No. 15 in Rivals.com top-25 poll, are 17th in Collegiate Baseball News and No. 18 in the NCBWA preseason poll. Pepperdine also has its share of preseason accolades as the Waves were ranked No. 21 by the NCBWA and No. 23 by Collegiate Baseball News.
San Diego (44-17), fresh off its fourth WCC Championship, ended last season ranked No. 18 by the NCBWA. San Diego went 3-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year, losing to eventual College World Series champion, Fresno State in the regional championship. Led by 11th year Head Coach Rich Hill, the Toreros will have a solid core of returning players including Team USA gold medalist AJ Griffin (JR., RHP), first-team All-WCC performer James Meador (JR., OF), All-WCC honorable mention honorees Kevin Muno (JR., OF) and Jose Valerio (SR., 1B) along with All-WCC Freshman team performers Sammy Solis (SO., LHP) and Kyle Blair (SO., RHP). Griffin has already received recognition as he was named a first team pre-season all-american by the NCBWA, and along with Solis and Bair, was named to this year's Brooks Wallace Award watch list.
Pepperdine (38-21) is coming off a runner-up finish in last season's WCC Championship Series and went 2-2 in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament, losing to host Stanford in the championship game of the regional. Pepperdine ended the season receiving votes in the last NCBWA poll. The Waves will be led by sixth-year Head Coach Steve Rodriguez, and return 19 letterwinners and six position starters. Highlighting the list of returnees is Nick Gaudi (JR., RHP), who was named a 2009 second-team preseason All-American by the NCBWA. The Waves also return a number of players from last season's All-WCC first team in Ryan Heroy (SR., 1B), Bryce Mendonca (SR., 3B), and Nathan Newman (SR., RHP).