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Baseball Opens West Coast Conference Play

March 27, 2006

This Week in Gaels Baseball: The Saint Mary's baseball team will open West Coast Conference play this weekend against No. 25-ranked San Diego after playing a non-conference contest against San Jose State. All four games will be on the road beginning with a night-game on Tuesday, March 28 against the Spartans at 6 p.m. from Municipal Stadium. SMC will begin its conference slate against USD in a weekend series. The two WCC foes will clash, beginning on Friday, March 31 at 2 p.m. from Cunningham Stadium.

Scouting San Jose State: Saint Mary's looks to sweep the season series against San Jose State in the second and last meeting between the two teams this year. Last time out, the Gaels defeated the Spartans 5-2 at Louis Guisto Field. The Spartans currently hold onto a 19-10 mark and a 16-6 home record. SJSU is hot as of late and has won 10 of its last 12. The Spartans are coming off a series victory over Louisiana Tech. Offensively the Spartans are led by Greg Fyfe. In 22 game played this season, Fyfe is batting .373 with three doubles and 10 RBIs. Brandon Fromm leads the team with 19 batted in and currently posts a .265 batting mark.

On the hill, SJSU holds onto a 3.54 team ERA. Out of the pen, Steve Jones leads the team with four saves and an unblemished 0.00 ERA in 10 appearances. Starter Brandon Dewing leads the team with a 5-2 record and a 1.22 ERA. Dewing has made eight starts and has tossed two shutouts and struck out 31 in 59 innings pitched.

Scouting San Diego: The Toreros returned to the rankings this week after sweeping UNLV this past weekend. USD currently sports an 18-10 record and an 8-1 home mark. Offensively the Toreros are led by Steve Singleton. The junior shortstop is batting .408 in 28 starts with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Jordan Abruzzo leads the team with four home runs and 25 RBIs.

On the mound, starter Josh Butler leads the team with a 6-2 record and a 0.95 ERA. Butler has tossed a complete game shutout and has fanned 49 in 56.2 innings pitched. Matt Couch holds a 3.38 ERA and is a perfect 4-0 on the year. Out of the pen, Josh Romanski leads the team with four saves. Romanski, who is a two-way player holds a 4.44 ERA and has fanned 21 in 24.1 innings pitched.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's senior pitcher Corey Madden has been throwing electrifying stuff this season. The senior threw his second consecutive double-digit strikeout game by fanning 10 Utes in six innings of work. Against Utah, Madden allowed only three hits and only walked two on top of his 10 Ks. On the season, Madden leads the team with a 2.80 ERA and 45 strikeouts.

At the plate, seniors Sam Carter and Adam Hicks had good weekends. Hicks led the team with a .462 batting average and six hits. Carter batted .455 and added a team-leading four RBIs. The senior clubbed his sixth home run on the year and slugged 1.000 over the course of the week.

A Little History: The Saint Mary's baseball team is off to one of its best starts in recent memory. The last time the Gaels won 12 of their first 20 games was back in 1978 when they started 13-7. In 1977 the Gaels raced off to a 15-5 start in their first 20 games. That season, SMC finished a school record 41-13. This past weekend the Gaels earned their 11th home victory on the year. The home wins this season ties last years home total.

Canned Heat: Saint Mary's senior Corey Madden has been sitting down opposing hitters at an alarming rate. The senior is averaging 11.46 strikeouts per nine innings and has struck out more than 10 three times this season. His last outing, Madden fanned 10 in only six innings. The outing prior to that, the senior sat down 11 in only 5 2/3 innings. On the year, Madden leads the Gaels with a 2.80 ERA and 45 Ks in 35 1/3 innings.

Carter Atop The WCC: Senior outfielder Sam Carter is off to a huge start for the Gaels and is currently ranked in several offensive categories in the WCC. Carter is one home run shy of teammate Preston Young for the home run lead. Carter is also second in the league in runs batted in with 33. The senior is currently fourth with 63 total bases and second in the league with a .656 slugging percentage.

Young Smashes His Way Into The Books: Senior Preston Young is rapidly moving up the SMC career home run list. With his three home runs against Southern Utah, Young now has seven on the season and 22 for his career. His 22 career home runs moved him into sole possession of third place in the record books, surpassing Curt Cannedy who belted 21 in the 77-78 seasons. The seven home runs this season surpasses his single season best of six, which he has accomplished twice.

His seven home runs also currently leads the WCC. Young is tied atop the conference home run list with Jackson Brennan of Gonzaga.

Home Cooking: Saint Mary's continues to stay hot at home establishing an 11-4 mark at Louis Guisto Field. With the 11 wins, SMC tied last years win total at home and there is two months remaining in the season. The 11th win came in a 5-4 victory over Utah.

Head Coach Jedd Soto: Soto enters his third year as head coach at Saint Mary's College. After two seasons at the helm, Soto has had seven players earn West Coast Conference accolades including three first-team selections in 2005, the most at SMC since the 1991 season. In addition to the conference awards, Soto had four players selected in the 2005 amateur draft and eight players selected in previous drafts.

This season Soto has already had two players named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week. In Saint Mary's opening week, senior Delaney Gallagher nabbed the honor while senior Joel Fountain was named Pitcher of the Week for his one-hit complete game shutout against Georgetown.

Last season Soto led the Gaels to their first 20 win season since 2002 and his six win improvement is the most by any single coach at Saint Mary's since Jim Jones accomplished the feat in 1987.

Soto has been instrumental in bringing in the top talent to Moraga and his 2006 recruiting class is no different. Soto inked 14 players in the early signing period including 10 Northern California players. Several of Soto's signee's are ranked among the best in the nation.

Soto was hired on July 1, 2003 as a unanimous choice of the players, coaches, administrators and the search committee. At 29 years of age, Soto was the youngest head coach hired in the West Coast Conference.

Coach Soto comes from a coaching tree that includes Smoke Laval: current head coach of LSU, and Jim "Skip" Walker: 1000 game winner at the collegiate level and hitting pioneer. With the implementation and combination of the systems used by Laval and Walker, Soto's style of play is bred for success.

Next Week: The Gaels will continue on the road next week with four games away from Moraga. SMC will open the week in Reno against the University of Nevada on Tuesday, April 4. Saint Mary's will continue conference play in a three-game weekend series against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.