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Aggies baseball to open season
Las Cruces, NM — The 52nd year of WAC baseball begins Friday, Feb. 14 when nine of the league's 10 teams will open regular season play. The WAC Tournament will be held in Mesa, Ariz. at Cubs Park, May 21-25. The top six teams from the regular season standings will advance to the double-elimination tournament.
Year two for Bakersfield in the Western Athletic Conference sees the Roadrunners as the defending regular season champions. The Roadrunners were the No. 1 seed at the 2013 WAC Tournament, going 2-1 during the meet. A school record five players were taken the 2013 MLB Draft including Cael Brockmeyer who went in the 16th round to the Chicago Cubs and advanced to Triple A last Summer.
The Roadrunners became the first, first year team in any NCAA Division I sport to defeat the defending national champion when the 'Runners handed Fresno State a 4-3 defeat Apr. 4, 2009. In 2012, Bakersfield baseball became nationally know when its "Dance-Off" against Nebraska during a rain delay in Lincoln became viral. Footage of the "Dance-Off" appeared nationally on ESPN and in 21 different TV markets across the United States.
Bakersfield Players to Watch:
Oscar Sanay - INF, R/R, 5-9, 190, Jr.
Oscar Sanay was selected 2014 second team preseason All-American by the NCBWA. He was named 2013 first team All-Conference and was the only Bakersfield player named to the All-WAC Tournament Team. An Academic All-Conference selection, Sanay was 1-of-5 players to reset the school record for most appearances in a season with 59. 1-of-2 players to start a school record 59 games, Sanay led Bakersfield in hitting for third consecutive season (.362) and was the team leader in slugging (.487) and on-base percentage (.446). He hit first career home run at Fresno State (Apr. 23) and tied the school record with six triples. Sanay was second on the squad in RBI's (45), walks (25), and HBP (14).
Taylor Aikenhead - P, L/L, 6-0, 175, Sr.
Taylor Aikenhead was hosen Academic All-Conference as a junior. Aikenhead tied with Dylan Christensen for the team lead in saves with five last season. He was third on the team in victories with five (5-2). His ERA (3.11) was the fourth best on the squad. Aikenhead appeared in a school record 26 games, starting six times in 2013.
The Cougars open a new $2.5 million on-campus stadium this spring. The venue brings baseball back to campus after years of off campus contests. Steve Joslyn is in his second season as Chicago State’s head coach. The former Northern Illinois University assistant coach guided the Cougars to a top four finish in the 2013 Great West Conference Tournament last season, the Cougars’ best performance in a conference tournament since 1999. Andrew Wellwerts threw seven complete games last season, which tied him for fourth in the nation. His final complete game of the year came in the Cougars’ 3-2 victory over now fellow WAC member Utah Valley in the GWC Tournament. Wellwerts and infielder Mattingly Romanin were named to the 2013 All-Great West Conference Tournament Team.
Chicago State Players to Watch:
Mattingly Romanin – INF, R/R, 5-10, 185
Romanin made the 2013 All-Great West Conference (GWC) First Team after leading the team in batting average (.284), total bases (62), slugging percentage (.383) and on-base percentage (.397). He also made the 2013 GWC All-Tournament Team after hitting .429 in four tournament games with six RBI and two doubles. He hit .311 in 2012 with 22 RBI, 14 doubles while recording a .408 on-base percentage. Romanin is a two-time Chicago State Scholar Athlete award winner.
Andrew Wellwerts – P, R/R, 6-0, 180
Wellwerts led the pitching staff in innings pitched (90.1), strikeouts (65), wins (4), complete games (7) and ERA (4.28) in 2013. His seven complete games ranked fourth in the nation. Wellwerts threw a complete game three-hitter vs. NYIT (Apr. 20). He was named 2013 GWC All-Academic and was a 2012-13 CSU Scholar Athlete.
The Grand Canyon University baseball team is making its return to the Western Athletic Conference in 2014 after having previously spent time in the conference from 1995-98. The Antelopes are coming off arguably their best season at the Division II level, having advanced to the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships for the first time in school history and boasting an impressive 40-19 overall record in head coach Andy Stankiewicz’s second season at the helm. GCU also won a share of the Pacific West Conference crown for the first time last season. GCU returns 18 players from last year’s roster and welcome 17 new additions. Six starting position players and four starting pitchers are among those returning to the squad this season. The ‘Lopes face a tough schedule in 2014, playing 33 of their 52 games on the road, including their season-opener at Louisiana-Monroe on Feb. 14.
Grand Canyon Players to Watch:
Jorge Perez – RHP, R/R, 6-2, 205, Jr.
For the Antelopes last season, Jorge Perez went 8-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 16 games (15 starts), collecting three complete games while tossing a team-high 107.0 innings. Perez was named to the NCAA Division II West Region Championship All-Tournament Team after allowing just 2 earned runs in 12.0 innings, including a complete-game victory over Sonoma State and his first career save in the championship-clinching win over Chico State. He also tossed a complete game versus Coker College in GCU's 10-2 win at the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships in Cary, N.C. He collected a season-best nine strikeouts on Feb. 22 vs. Colorado Mesa and allowed three earned runs or less in 13 games. Over the summer, the right-hander was tabbed as the second-best prospect from the West Coast League according to Baseball America and Perfect Game Crosschecker.
Andrew Naderer – LHP, R/L, 6-2, 170, So.
Lefty Andrew Naderer led the GCU baseball team with nine wins, five complete games, and 87 strikeouts during the 2013 season en route to being named the Pacific West Conference Freshman of the Year. He also garnered Rawlings/ABCA Division II Gold Glove honors as the best defensive pitcher in the country after collecting eight putouts and 28 assists in 36 chances without committing an error, serving as the lone freshman on the Gold Glove team. Among his many other accolades, Naderer was named to the Rawlings/ABCA Division II West All-Region Second Team and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-West Region Honorable Mention. He struck out a career-best 10 batters on May 3 vs. Dixie State and allowed three earned runs or less on 13 occasions throughout the season, including six straight to end his freshman campaign.
New Mexico State
Head coach Rocky Ward, the winningest coach in program history (432 wins), begins his 18th season at the helm of the NM State baseball program. Ward and the Aggies finished the 2013 season with a 29-28 record, marking the fifth-consecutive season the NM State squad finished with a winning record. The Aggies finished one win short of also making it five years in a row with at least 30 wins. NM State did, however, mark its first win in the WAC Tournament since 2009, defeating Texas-Arlington, 4-3. For the second-straight year, three of Ward’s players were either drafted or signed free agent contracts with a Major League team in 2013 (Ryan Beck, Parker Hipp, Tanner Rust). The Aggies had four players collect 2013 All-WAC honors, including returning outfielder Michael Medina who was a second-team selection. NM State’s 2013 team led the WAC in runs scored (394), RBIs (357), walks (317) and was second in the conference in home runs (53). Medina, along with fellow senior Quinnton Mack, will be tapped to lead a 2014 Aggie team that lost all of its starting rotation and most of its top hitters.
New Mexico State Players to Watch:
Christopher Bradley – LHP, L/L, 6-0, 175, Sr.
Bradley appeared in 25 games in 2013, including seven starts, and finished with a 5-5 record, one save and a 4.99 ERA, which was third-best on the team. His five wins were tied for third-most on the Aggie pitching staff while having the second-most appearances and fifth-most starts. Bradley’s five wins included going 3-0 in WAC play. He had 48 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched on the season, which was also good enough for fifth-most on the Aggie roster.
During his first start as an Aggie, versus UW-Milwaukee (Feb. 15), Bradley pitched five strong innings, only allowing two runs, one earned, while striking out a season-high seven batters, a feat he would accomplish again at Texas Tech (Apr. 23). Bradley also closed out the season strong, picking up NM State’s final victory of the season, a 4-0 victory over Seattle U (May 17). Bradley went 6.1 innings versus the Redhawks en route to a three-hit, six-strikeout shutout.
Michael Medina – CF, L/R, 5-10, 175, Sr.
Medina was the Aggies’ starting right fielder from day one during his first season with NM State. He was one of only three Aggies to play in all 57 games during the 2013 season. Medina led the WAC in total walks with 45 on the season. He had 19 of those walks during WAC play to place him second in the conference. Medina also had 67 hits on the season, second-most on the NM State squad, and an on-base percentage of .454, which ranked him second in the WAC behind teammate and former Aggie Tanner Rust.
Medina’s 54 runs scored tied him for the team lead with Rust. The teammates were tied for second-best in the WAC in the category. Medina, however, topped the list by himself of runs scored during WAC play with 30 runs scored. Medina’s batting average of .324 was third highest on the team. During WAC play, he improved his average to .369, which put him in a tie for fourth-best in the WAC during conference play. Medina had seven doubles, two triples, which tied him for a team high in triples, and finished in a tie for fourth on the NM State team with 31 RBIs on the season.
UND enters its first season in the WAC after four seasons in the Great West Conference. UND returns eight positional starters and the entire starting rotation to a team that enjoyed its first winning season in its NCAA Division I era last season (25-22-1). The 2013 team overcame a brutal schedule that saw it play 31 consecutive games away from home to start the season. Once the weather cooperated for UND to play a home game, it took advantage by winning 10 of its final 13 games en route to a five seed in the Great West Conference Tournament. Once there, UND won its first two games at the postseason tournament for its third straight season. Included in the wins was a victory over three-time defending league champion Utah Valley, who had not lost a game in the tournament's history. UND then defeated top-seed Northern Colorado before dropping a semifinal to eventual-champion Houston Baptist and losing a rematch with UNC in the loser's bracket. UND’s 25 wins were the most since 1998 and two of UND's wins found the record books for most runs scored. North Dakota scored a dozen runs in the ninth inning en route to a 23-7 win over Northern Colorado (April 14) and less than a month later, UND piled-up 25 runs in a rout of New Jersey Tech (25-5, May 10). Both of those run totals rank in the top 10 in school history for a single game.
North Dakota Players to Watch:
Andrew Thome - RHP, R/R, 6-4,210, Jr.
North Dakota’s ace started 12 games on the mound, going 6-5 with a 4.14 earned run average. He was named to the All-Great West Conference Second Team after collecting 57 strikeouts in his 78.1 inning pitched. Thome twirled a complete game no-hitter in the season opener vs. Mount Marty, the sixth no-no in UND history and first in 10 years. He threw four complete games in 2013 to give him 10 for his young career. Thome also led the team as a freshman with five wins, 65 strikeouts and a 3.58 earned run average and set the UND single-season record with 93 innings pitched. As a frosh, he fired six complete games and was the only freshman hurler in NCAA Division I baseball to toss three nine-inning shutouts in 2012.
Jeff Campbell - INF, RHP, R/R, 6-4, 225, Jr.
Campbell came on down the stretch to .271 with a team-high-tying four homers and a team-best 43 runs batted in. He hit .379 over his last 28 games and was named to the Great West Conference All-Tournament Team. At the tourney, he hit .438, slugging .625 with three extra-base hits in UND's four games, reaching base 11 times. Campbell earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America accolades in 2012, becoming the first UND player to do that in the Division I era and the first UND All-American since 2004. He was named the Great West Conference Newcomer of the Year and earned a first-team spot as a utility player on the All-GWC team.
Northern Colorado won the regular season title in its final season of the Great West Conference and played in the championship game of the Great West Tournament. The Bears return 15 letterwinners from last season’s 33-24 team, including the Great West Player of the Year in OF Jensen Park and the player of the year according to College Sports Madness, OF/P Nick Miller. A year ago, the Bears had the top three hitters in the Great West Conference in Jensen Park, Colby Harrison and Nick Miller and all three return in 2014. The trio all ranked in the top 75 in the nation in batting average.
Northern Colorado Players to Watch:
Nick Miller - INF/LHP, L/L, 6-4, 205, Sr.
Miller was named to the 2013 ABCA All-Midwest Team, as well as the Great West Player of the Year according to College Sports Madness and a Second-Team All-Conference selection by the Great West. He also earned Great West All-Tournament team honors after hitting .520 with a slugging percentage of 1.160. For the season, Miller hit .375 with a team-high 18 doubles, five triples and six home runs. On the hill, he went 6-4 with a 4.58 ERA, pitching 70 2/3 innings, walking just 26 and striking out 50.
Jensen Park - OF, R/R, 5-10, 166, Jr.
Park was named the Great West Conference Player of the Year in a vote by the coaches and was a Great West All-Tournament selection. Last year as a sophomore he led the team with a .397 batting average, playing in 53 games, starting in 51. At the Great West Tournament, hit .423 with two home runs and 10 RBI, getting named to the All-Tournament team In 2012, he was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball after earning Great West All-Conference Second Team Honors.
The Hornets return seven starting position players, three starting pitchers, and their closer from the 2013 squad that went 34-25 overall and 14-13 in the WAC. It was the program’s second consecutive winning season and back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time in over 20 years, as strong pitching in 2013 helped the team set single-season records in opponent batting average (.255) and shutouts (9). Among the returners are 2013 Freshman All-American outfielder Chris Lewis and closer Sutter McLoughlin as well as 2012 Freshman All-American Rhys Hoskins. Along with the veterans are 12 newcomers, including 11 true freshmen, while 30 of the 32 team members are from the state of California. Sacramento State has 32 home games in 2014 and will play an unprecedented seven games under the lights at Raley Field, home of the AAA Sacramento Rivercats, including a matchup with 2013 College World Series semifinalist Oregon State.
Sacramento State Players to Watch:
Sutter McLoughlin – RHP, R/R, 6-5, 225, So.
McLoughlin enters his sophomore season as an NCBWA 2014 Preseason All-America Third Team selection. He earned Freshman All-American honors from the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger while also being named to the All-WAC First Team last season. He was the first freshman (along with Chris Lewis) in program history to be an All-WAC first team selection after shattering the single-season program record and leading the WAC with 17 saves. He made 28 total appearances, the third most appearances in a season in program history, and led all WAC relievers with five or more appearances with a 2.11 season era. McLoughlin had a .196 opponent batting average in 38.1 innings pitched while allowing just nine earned runs with 26 strikeouts and nine walks.
Chris Lewis – OF, R/R, 6-1, 190, So.
Lewis was named the 2013 WAC Freshman of the Year and was an NCBWA and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. He also earned First Team All-WAC honors, becoming the first freshman (along with Sutter McLoughlin) in program history to be an All-WAC first team selection. In 2013 Lewis led the team with a .349 batting average, .484 slugging percentage, .396 on-base percentage, and 75 hits. He also tied for the team lead with 15 doubles and was second with 46 RBIs. He started and played in 57 games, with 48 at designated hitter and nine at first base. Lewis hit third 17 times and fourth 14 times while scoring 33 runs and totaling four home runs and one triple.
The Seattle University baseball team enters the 2014 season with a renewed focus after falling just short of qualification for the WAC Baseball Tournament last year. Six members of the 2013 starting lineup return for the Redhawks, as do six pitchers who started 53 of the team’s 54 games last season. One significant area that needs to be filled is the closer role, as Eric Yardley moved on to the San Diego Padres Rookie League team after serving as the team’s closer over the past two seasons. Besides the 27 conference contests, Seattle U once again faces a challenging non-conference schedule, highlighted by road games at top-five school Oregon State and top-10 team Oregon. Washington, Washington State, Portland, BYU, Cal Poly, UC Davis, and Cal State Northridge are also on the docket for the Redhawks this season. An improvement on last year’s 21-win season and a spot in the 2014 WAC Baseball Tournament are the goals for this year’s Seattle U squad.
Seattle U Players to Watch:
Chase Fields - OF, R/L, 5-8, 150, Sr.
After transferring from junior college, Chase Fields made an immediate impact on the Seattle U baseball team, earning the starting centerfielder position. His speed and intelligence allowed him to cover a lot of ground at Bannerwood Park’s spacious outfield. At the plate, he batted .305 with 53 hits, 37 runs scored, a .407 on-base percentage, and 14 stolen bases. He will be looked to at the top of the batting order to set the table for the hitters behind him.
Andrew Olson - LHP, L/L, 6-1, 205, RSr.
Andrew Olson recovered from early struggles during the 2013 season, regaining his spot in the weekend starting rotation during the conference season. He became the first Seattle U pitcher to throw a complete game shutout since the program returned to competition in 2010, allowing just four hits while striking out eight batters last April 21 against UT Arlington. Olson finished the 2013 season 7-5 with a 4.18 ERA, and he will be counted on to continue his strong effort in the 2014 campaign.
UTPA enters its first season in the WAC after finishing in second place in the Great West Conference in each of the last two seasons. Last season, the Broncs ranked 57th in the NCAA in total double plays turned (52), 59th in double plays turned per game (0.9), 35th in sacrifice flies (31), 53rd in sacrifice bunts (56), 82nd in batting average (.284), 88th in on-base percentage (.366), 104th in runs scored (312) and 38th in strikeouts per nine innings (7.6). The Broncs are a historically strong team, having participated in 13 NCAA Regionals and one College World Series. The Broncs reached all 13 of those tournaments by earning an at-large bid as an independent team. The 1971 squad shutout Texas in consecutive games in the District VI round, marking the first time that had happened in 62 years. The 1983 Broncs went 64-19-1, finishing the regular season by taking three out of four at No. 1 Wichita State, before going 2-2 in the NCAA Regionals. Since 1970, 32 Broncs have been selected in the MLB Draft, four of whom made the majors. The Broncs currently have three players in affiliated baseball, right-handed pitcher Dusten Knight, who helped lead the Arizona League Giants to a championship, Michal Zouzalik, who reached advanced A ball last season with Myrtle Beach in the Texas Rangers organization, and Angel Ibañez, who helped the short-season A Greeneville Astros to a runner-up finish in the Appalachian League last season.
Texas-Pan American Player to Watch:
Sam Street - P, R/R, 6-3, 220, Sr.
During his first season with the Broncs, Street raked up the accolades, finishing second in the NCAA in complete games (eight), 27th in wins (10), 25th in strikeouts (104), 59th in WHIP (1.03), 89th in hits allowed per nine innings (7.1), and 170th in ERA (2.73). He pitched a complete game or at least nine innings in six-straight starts, including two shutouts, from March 22 through April 26. He did not allow an earned run in five of his complete games. In total, Street pitched 115.1 innings, the second-highest single-season total in program history. He struck out 104 batters, the seventh highest single-season total in program history. Street earned Great West Conference Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year as well as All-GWC First Team honors, Madness Great West Conference Pitcher of the Year and All-GWC First Team honors, five GWC Pitcher of the Week awards, and two Madness GWC Player of the Week awards.
Alberto Morales - C, R/R, 6-2, 215, Sr.
During his first season with the Broncs, Morales ranked 110th in the NCAA in home runs per game (0.16), 116th in total home runs (Great West Conference-leading eight) and 142nd in slugging (.525). He earned All-GWC First Team, Madness All-Great West Conference First Team honors and one GWC Player of the Week award. Morales was instrumental in the Broncs’ first-ever wins against conference rival Utah Valley, hitting his first grand slam in the first game, lunching a three-run home run to provide all the offense in the second game, and doubling to leadoff a two-run ninth during a comeback win in the third game of a four-game series.
Utah Valley University enters its first season in the Western Athletic Conference after winning three Great West Conference regular seasons and tournament titles in four seasons. Eric Madsen is entering his sixth season as head coach and has a record of 165-116 (587). During a three-year stretch from 2010-12, the Wolverines went 123-51 (.707), winning an average of 41 games per year while twice leading the nation in team batting average. The 2012 team also led the country in winning percentage, going 47-12 (.797). Last season’s team finished 24-30 and 15-9 in the Great West. The 2014 Wolverines return six starting position players and two starting pitchers and return 17 letterwinners while welcoming 16 newcomers to the roster. The schedule has UVU on the road for the first 16 games of the season, with 14 of those being played in California starting at Loyola Marymount on Feb. 14. The home opener will be the WAC opener, March 14-16 vs. North Dakota.
Utah Valley Players to Watch:
Andrew Freter, RHP, R/R, 6-3, 210, Sr.
Freter 3-3 with a 6.49 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) during his first season at UVU after transferring from the College of Southern Idaho. Freter, who will start on the mound at Loyola Marymount to begin the season, earned a win at reigning national champion Arizona on Feb. 26 after throwing 5.1 innings without allowing an earned run (one unearned) on three hits. He pitched five scoreless innings against NJIT to earn his second win. Before his time at Utah Valley, Freter was a second-team All-SWAC while at Southern Idaho and was also an Academic All-American.
Sean Moysh, OF, S/R, 5-11, 200, Sr.
Moysh missed all but three games in 2013 due to an injury sustained on opening weekend. He had started 7-for-15 in those three games before the injury. In 2012, Moysh was named First Team All-Great West Conference after batting .339 with four home runs, 44 RBIs, and 80 hits in 236 at-bats. He started in the outfield in all 59 games for UVU and led the team in stolen bases with 15. Moysh finished ninth in the nation inruns scored (68) and sixth in runs scored per game (1.15). Before transferring to Utah Valley, he played two seasons at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s also fluent in German having served an LDS mission in Berlin.