January 3, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- An experienced Santa Clara University baseball team begins preparation for the upcoming 2001 season Monday at Buck Shaw Stadium with all nine position starters returning as well as two of its top three pitchers from a year ago.
The Broncos open the season with a Jan. 27 alumni game before travelling to Los Angeles to face second-ranked Southern Cal in a 2 p.m. game on Jan. 31. The Broncos open the home season against Cal on Feb. 2 with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at historic Buck Shaw Stadium. The West Coast Conference opener is scheduled for Mar. 9-11 at home against San Francisco.
"Our guys are excited to get back on the field and start preparing for games," said Santa Clara head coach Mike Cummins. "We have a lot of work to do between now and our first game at USC. But, I think we have a group of players who are committed to working hard, continuing to improve and competing with anybody in the country. We will certainly have our work cutout for us early in the year with such a challenging schedule."
Santa Clara faces three teams this season that are ranked among the top-25 in the nation in the preseason polls: USC and Stanford from the Pac-10 Conference and West Coast Conference rival Pepperdine. In addition, the Broncos will play Cal from the Pacific-10, Fresno State and San Jose State from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and Oklahoma State from the Big 12 Conference.
The Broncos return all nine position starters and 15 letterwinners from last season, including second-team All-WCC and league freshman of the year Jack Headley (Gilroy, Calif.). The Cape Cod League Championship MVP during the summer, Headley hit a team-leading .380 last season with 40 RBI and a .451 on-base percentage.
Sophomores Matt Travis (Glendora, Calif.) and Joe Diefenderfer (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) received plenty of experience on the mound as freshmen last season, leading the team in starting appearances. Travis struck out 10 against San Francisco and blanked nationally-ranked Loyola Marymount in his final two appearances in 2000.
The duo, along with senior David Mallen (Berrington Hill, Ill.) should anchor a young but promising Bronco pitching staff. Kellen McConnell (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) is one of several freshman pitchers who will be counted on to develop throughout the season.
Santa Clara finished the 2000 season with a 22-37 record and 12-18 mark in the WCC. The Broncos ended the season winning five of their final six games, including a doubleheader sweep of 14th-ranked Loyola Marymount at Buck Shaw Stadium.