Dec. 23, 2008
The WCC has placed two teams on the Collegiate Baseball News preaseason poll, with San Diego coming in at the No. 17 spot, while Pepperdine was ranked No. 23. Also included in the poll were Santa Clara and San Francisco as teams receiving votes. The recent preseason nominations come on the heels of a number of individual player recognitions as the WCC placed two players on the NCBWA Preseason All-America Team and eight on the 2009 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List.
The Toreros, under the guidance is the 2008 WCC Coach of the Year Rich Hill, posted a program-best 44-17 overall record this past season, won its second consecutive WCC Championship and advanced to the Long Beach Regional championship game.
Now in his 11th season, Hill will have a solid core of returning players including Team USA gold medalist AJ Griffin and first-team All-WCC performer James Meador.
Pepperdine is coming off a second place finish in the conference last season, finishing with a No. 19 national ranking. Highlighting the returnees for the Waves is reliever Nick Gaudi, who is the only other WCC player to be named a preseason All-American.
Gaudi's honor is the first preseason accolade collected this winter by Pepperdine, which is expected to contend with San Diego for the WCC title and go deep into the 2009 NCAA postseason. The Waves also return a number of players from last season's All-WCC first team in 1B Ryan Heroy, 3B Bryce Mendonca, and RHP Nathan Newman.
The Broncos return 2008 Freshman of the Year, Thain Simon, but will also return All-WCC first team members in senior 2B Brady Fuerst, sophomore RHP Nate Garcia, junior SS Jon Karcich, and junior C Tommy Medica. Santa Clara was one of the best offensive teams in the league, leading the conference in team batting average and homeruns.
The Dons had one of the better pitching units in the league last season, ranking second in team ERA as well as earned runs allowed. Headlining the list of returnees are 2008 WCC All-Freshman team members Matt Lujan and Connor Bernatz.