December 18, 2009

The Season Before the Season

Dec. 18, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - For most of the student body at Cal State Northridge, the month of December is a time filled with late-night cram sessions and stressful looks on people's faces as preparations for finals begin.

But for the fortunate few that comprise the Cal State Northridge baseball team, December provides an opportunity to look back at the progress and accomplishments achieved on the diamond during the fall months, while giving everyone that one last chunk of time off before facing the daily rigors attached to the upcoming season.

If the level of success earned by the Matadors throughout the fall semester are any indication, Northridge baseball fans should prepare themselves for an exciting season.

Right-handed pitchers Chris DeBoo, Jimmy Jolicoeur, Billy Ott, and Alex Muren gave the Matador faithful a glimpse of their respective potential on the mound as each pitched impressively during the fall workout period.

Of all the members of the pitching staff, Ott narrowly edged out Muren by four one-hundredths of a point as his 1.20 mark earned him the ERA Champion honors.

Muren was able to claim honors of his own, however, as the freshman from Ramona, Calif. threw 15 or fewer pitches in 80% of his innings pitched.

Fresh off a remarkable summer performance where he earned Horizon Air Summer Series Pitcher of the Year honors for his 9-0, 0.60 ERA performance for the Humboldt Crabs, DeBoo finished the fall possessing the lowest number of walks/hit by pitches per nine innings (1.30) of anyone on staff.

After utilized primarily as a setup reliever last season, Jolicoeur is ready to claim the closer role as his own as he possessed the highest percentage of first-pitch strikes (69%) and was able to prevent the lead-off hitter from reaching base on 73% of the time.

At the plate, outfielder Drew Muren claimed four of the ten batting honors up for grabs as he finished with the highest amount of runs scored (14), bases stolen (10), and occasions where he was hit by a pitch (4) in addition to finishing with the best on-base percentage (.479).

Having finished the 2009 season with a team-high 44 RBI's, infielder Ryan Pineda continued swinging a hot bat at Matador Field as he led all Matadors with 14 runs batted in.

First baseman Dominic D'Anna showed no rust both at the plate and in the field as he finished as both the Over-the-Line (11-3, .690 avg.) and Gold Glove champion as the junior did not commit an error and turned a number of highlight-quality plays on defense.

Newcomer Dominic Piazza ensured that his first impression would be a successful one as the catcher looks to fill the void left behind by the former All-Big West catcher John Parham as Piazza finished his inaugural workouts as Batting Champion with his .409 average.

Piazza also finished with the lowest strikeout-to-at-bat mark with his 1:25 ratio.

Having only graduated four student-athletes in 2009, with another two signing professional contracts with various Major League Baseball teams, the Matadors welcome back a sizable group of returning players for the 2010 season.

That collective amount of experience, in addition to the time spent during the fall workout period, will serve as a valuable asset; not only will it help better prepare the 13 new players on the roster by exposing the neophytes to Division-I caliber competition, but also serve as an additional weapon for head coach Steve Rousey in the ultra-competitive Big West Conference.