January 11, 2007

WCC Releases Preseason Baseball Poll

Jan. 11, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The West Coast Conference announced its Preseason Baseball Poll, in which Pepperdine was chosen as the favorite to capture its fourth straight West Coast Conference baseball title in the 2007 preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches. Santa Clara was tabbed for a sixth place finish with 19 points, despite having the top incoming freshman class in the WCC, according to Collegiate Baseball News.

The Broncos are coming off of a season which saw them post a 28-26 record, and finish tied for fifth in the WCC with a 9-12 mark. Santa Clara, while losing the talents of outfielder Daniel Nava, the WCC's leading batter last season with a .395 average, second baseman Eric Newton, the WCC's leader with 14 home runs, and catcher Kris Watts, whose solid production included a .336 average, nine homers and 18 doubles, returns a solid young class that includes Freshman All-Americans Matt Long (.336 average in 2006) and lefty Matt Wickswat (9-2, 3.54 ERA in 2006).

Pepperdine is coming off of an outstanding season, having posted a 42-21 overall record en route to hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time in program history. Headlining the list of returners for Head Coach Steve Rodriguez is 2006 WCC Co-Pitcher of the Year Barry Enright, who has been named to the Brooks Wallace Award and Roger Clemens Award preseason watch lists. The junior has posted a perfect 13-0 record against WCC opponents during his two seasons in Malibu, and will be joined on the Wave squad by 2006 Freshman All-American relief pitcher Brett Hunter and preseason All-American shortstop Danny Worth, who batted .310 and started all 63 games for the Waves as a sophomore last season.

San Diego, which made an NCAA Tournament appearance for the third time in five years in 2006, returns a pair of Freshman All-Americans in pitcher Brian Matusz and two-way standout Josh Romanski. Matusz emerged as one of the top young hurlers in the conference last season, posting a 4-3 overall record with 93 strikeouts in 89 innings pitched, while Romanski was tabbed for WCC Freshman of the Year honors after batting .287 and nailing down five saves on the mound for the Toreros.

San Francisco enjoyed the best campaign in program history last season, setting a program record with 39 wins and earning selection to its first-ever NCAA Regional. The Dons led the WCC with a 2.69 team ERA in conference contests a year ago, and return the league's ERA leader from last season in junior Aaron Poreda. The left-hander paced the WCC with a 2.49 ERA as a sophomore, and was named to the preseason watch list for both the Brooks Wallace and Roger Clemens Awards.

LMU posted a 24-32 overall record and an 11-10 mark in conference play en route to a fourth place finish in 2006. The Lions return junior right-hander Brad Meyers, who solidified his reputation as one of the top pitching prospects in the nation after going 8-4 in 15 starts as a sophomore. Gonzaga will look to improve on last year's fifth place finish behind the big bats of Darin Holcomb and Ryan Wiegand, who combined to drive in 102 runs in 2006. The Zags will be playing in new digs this season, as GU plans to open Washington Trust Field at Patterson Baseball Complex in March.

Saint Mary's posted a winning record (26-25) for the first time since 1991 last season, and welcomes in a conference-high 25 newcomers for the upcoming campaign, while Portland was selected for an eighth place finish despite welcoming back seven position starters and four starting pitchers for the 2007 season.

2007 WCC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. Pepperdine - 47 (6)
2. San Diego - 41 (1)
3. San Francisco - 41 (1)
4. LMU - 28
5. Gonzaga - 25
6. Santa Clara - 19
7. Saint Mary's - 16
8. Portland - 8
() - First-place votes