Feb. 13, 2009
Head coach Jedd Soto enters his sixth season at the helm of the Saint Mary's baseball program with his sights set on propelling the Gaels into the national spotlight. With a loaded squad of seasoned starters and a host of younger talent pushing for playing time, the 2009 team is now in prime position to stake their claim as a WCC power in both this season and for years to come. In Coach Soto's estimation, "This is the deepest squad, both on the mound and in the field, that I have ever had the opportunity to field in my tenure at Saint Mary's."
The always steady field general Ryan Mulligan returns after another successful campaign as the Gaels' primary backstop. Mulligan posted a .329 average hitting primarily out of the two-hole in coach Soto's lineup, where he utilized his advanced feel for the strike zone to work deep into counts. The junior backstop drew a team-high 28 walks while striking out only 15 times in 149 at bats in 2008. Junior Thomas Chadwick provides an excellent bat and much needed depth at the catcher position. Toby DeMello joins the team as a stalwart defender, and will likely serve as the primary backup for Mulligan. Sure handed freshmen backstops Jordan Heil and Riley Heinzer will also contend for time behind the dish.
Headlining the Gaels' stellar outfield is 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Candidate Kyle Jensen, who returns to Moraga after a torrid 2008 campaign in Gael pinstripes. The junior outfielder, who possesses raw power to every part of the ball park, clubbed out a Saint Mary's College single season record .421 batting average, while pacing the team in doubles (17), home runs (13), and RBI (52). Jensen appears poised to improve upon his fantastic 2008 season in which he was named to a Rivals.com Second Team All-American, ABCA/Rawlings All-American First Team (All-Western Region) and West Coast Conference All-Conference Team. Jensen's exceptional speed and strong throwing arm will allow him to patrol the gaps at Louis Guisto from the center field position. Sophomore Justin Fazio exploded onto the scene for the Gaels in 2008, garnering selections to both the WCC All-Freshman Team as well as the Third Team All-Ping Freshman squads. The left handed hitting outfielder slugged his way to a .379 average and a .978 OBS in his 23 starts, serving as a both a terrific table setter and run producer for Coach Soto, earning himself a starting spot in the corner outfield. Senior speedster Cory Miller returns to the Gaels after an impressive 2008 season in which he hit .327, while pacing the club with 12 steals. Primarily used as a leadoff hitter, Miller produced 14 multi-hit games while patrolling in center field with above average range and instincts. The senior will continue to contend for innings in the Gael's loaded outfield, particularly against right handed pitchers. Senior Ryan Young, freshman Donald Collins and junior Conor Larkin will push for innings in right field as well, particularly against left handed pitchers.
A difficult slate of games awaits the Gaels in 2009, which includes 29 games at the friendly confines of Louis Guisto Field. Six of the Gaels' 2009 opponents have garnered a spot in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top 40, highlighted by a match up on March 3 with Stanford who sits at fifth in the nation to start the year. Opening day will feature the University of Oregon's first baseball game since 1981, as the Ducks travel down the coast to Moraga for a series from February 20-22. The WCC championships will take place on May 22-24.