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11 BB Release-Week 1
Titans Unanimous Preseason Pick For 2011 Title
Cal State Fullerton is the predominate favorite in the 2011 Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving all nine first-place votes. The Titans have at least a share of eight of the last 12 titles and a conference-best 15 overall. UC Irvine and UC Riverside found themselves knotted in second place with 65 votes apiece. Receiving 50 points to grab the fourth slot is Cal Poly while Long Beach State rounds out the top five with 47 points.
UC Santa Barbara secured the sixth spot with 36 total points and Pacific locked down seventh with 26 points. Garnering 22 points was UC Davis, who ranked eighth and was followed by Cal State Northridge (13 points).
Last season, Cal State Fullerton regained the top spot in the league with an impressive 21-3 record, made its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the 2010 Super Regionals. In 2011, the Titans return 17 letterwinners (4 starting position players and 3 starting pitchers), two of which have already received preseason accolades. Providing depth to the talented Titan squad, fourth-year head coach Dave Serrano and his staff welcome eight freshman and seven junior college transfers to the program, a recruiting class good enough to be ranked 8th by Collegiate Baseball and 10th by Baseball America.
On The Small Screen
Two Big West contests have been selected by ESPNU as part of its 2011 college baseball coverage. The showdown between defending championship Cal State Fullerton and 2009 Big West Champion UC Irvine is slated to air on Sunday, April 10 at 2:00 p.m. The Anteaters make their second appearance on ESPNU the following month when they host Cal Poly on May 8th at 2:00 p.m.
As part of the RBI Tournament, the UC Irvine-Bethune Cookman showdown will air on the MLB Network from the MLB Urban Youth Academy on Saturday, February 26. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m.
LBSU Enjoying The Sunshine State
When your home is in sunny Southern California what better way to brave the winter months then by soaking up the warmth Mother Nature provides. Long Beach State intends to do just that. The 49ers open the 2011 season playing 11 of their first 12 contests in the familiar confines of Blair Field. Their one road contest is just a short jaunt to Cal State Fullerton for a nonconference contest on Feb. 19.
Cal State Northridge Hires New Head Coach
Matt Curtis, who for the last ten years has been a major contributor in one of the West Coasts most successful college programs, has been hired as head baseball coach at Cal State Northridge. Curtis comes to CSUN from Fresno State where he served as assistant coach for a program that has won five consecutive Western Athletic Conference titles, made four NCAA tournament appearances in the last five years, and won the 2008 College World Series.
During his ten seasons in Fresno, Curtis compiled a 362-272-0 record. In addition to the National Championship in 2008, he helped coach the Bulldogs to five consecutive WAC titles, four straight NCAA Regional appearances, and playoff appearances in five of his ten seasons.
Buckley Named Long Beach State Head Coach
Following the retirement of Head Coach Mike Weathers at the end of the 2010 season, Troy Buckley was promoted to head coach. Buckley made his return as the teams pitching coach for the 2010 season after spending two years as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Pirates. That opportunity came on the heels of the tremendous success that Long Beach States players have had both at the collegiate and professional levels. Since Buckley came to Long Beach State in 2001, the Dirtbags have earned five Big West Pitcher of the Year awards, and in 2004 Jered Weaver was named the National Player of the Year after posting a 15-1 record with 213 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA.
Highlanders Loaded On The Hill
UC Riverside, who tied for second in the Big West preseason poll, welcomes back a majority of its pitching staff which includes all five starting pitchers from last years squad that finished third in the league with a 13-11 record. Returning to the mound in 2011 are Dustin Emmons, Matt Larkin, Matt Andriese and freshman All-America Mitch Patito. Emmons concluded the 2010 season with nine wins, tying him for third in the conference, and Andriese led the Highlanders and finished fifth in the league in innings pitched (103.2). Patito, pitching in relief, registered a 1.33 ERA in 27.0 innings pitched and tallied three saves.
Mustangs Try To Keep Injury Bug At Bay In 2011
Cal Polys hopes to improve on last year depends on the dreaded injury bug that has plagued the team the past few years. The pitching staff has been hit hardest with the Mustangs losing Steven Fischback for both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Frankie Reed for the 2008 and 2009 campaigns, Matt Leonard in 2009, DJ Mauldin (injured in 2007 season opener) and Mason Radeke (started first four weeks of 2010 season before elbow injury). If the pitching staff can remain healthy, you may find the Mustangs in the mix at the top of the Big West standings. In all, Cal Poly returns 20 letterwinners, including five position starters and nine pitchers, from a squad which fell 17 games below the .500 mark at 10-27 in the first 10 weeks of the 2010 season, but finished 23-32, posting a 13-5 mark in May and climbing from last place to fifth in the Big West Conference.
Up For The Challenge
Long Beach State once again has one of the strongest schedules in the country, ranked third overall and first in nonconference strength going into the 2011 season. The Dirtbags play 17 teams out of 22 total that received votes in the preseason polls, including No. 1 UCLA, No. 8 Cal State Fullerton for six games, No. 9 Oregon, No. 10 Stanford and No. 11 Arizona State.
The Titans constructed the second-toughest nonconference schedule, ninth overall, for the upcoming year with weekend series at preseason No. 1 TCU, 2009 national champion LSU and Hawaii. Cal State Fullerton also faces No. 3 UCLA, No. 11 Arizona State, North Carolina, USC and San Diego.
Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton arent the only Big West programs taking on such a challenging schedule. UC Santa Barbara ranks 25th overall and Pacific follows in 26th place. All nine league schools rank in the Boyds World top 100 overall strength of schedule list.
Facing The Nation
Since the Big West Conference is currently an all-California conference it plays a majority of its contests against fellow Golden State institutions, but when the teams battle a non-California opponent they continue their winning ways. In 2010, the league owned a 61-43 record (.587) against non-California opponents.
Best Of The Big West
Of the nine current members in the Big West Conference, six of them have won the Big West title - Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and the most recent addition, UC Irvine, who won its first-ever title two years ago with a near perfect conference mark of 22-2.
The 2010 MLB Draft
The Big West Conference witnessed 22 players selected in the final day of the three-day Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, increasing its 2010 draft total to 49.
The conference saw action right from the start as a pair of Cal State Fullerton Titans - shortstop Christian Colon and outfielder Gary Brown - were selected in the first round. In all, Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton had a league-leading nine players drafted.
Long Beach State and UC Irvine each had eight selections to finish second in the conference. UC Santa Barbara, who had one draftee in day twos action, added five selections today to bring the Gauchos total to six, finishing fourth in the Big West. Pacifics total number of draftees improved to five after the final day, which ties a program-high that was set during the 1994 and 2001 drafts. UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge each had four players chosen, Cal Poly had three players selected and two draft picks came from UC Davis.
Live On The Net
The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring you exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet! Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in womens volleyball as well as mens and womens basketball. Also covered are select contests in mens and womens soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West Conference Championships. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you. If you cant make it to the gym or the field, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!