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Baseball's First Pitch Slated For Friday

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12 BB Release-Week 1


Titans Preseason Favorite
Cal State Fullerton was selected as the favorite to capture the 2012 Big West Conference title according to the 2012 Big West Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll after receiving six of the nine first-place votes and totaling 76 points. Picking up three first-place votes was UC Irvine, who was selected second with 70 points. Rounding out the top three after collecting 58 points were the 49ers of Long Beach State.

Last season CSF claimed its 25th Big West Conference championship after posting a 19-5 mark. Entering his first season as head coach of the Titans, Rick Vanderhook guides a team that welcomes back 16 letterwinners, six of which are starting position players. Unfortunately the Titans lost all their starting pitchers in the offseason so they will rely on a young and inexperienced pitching squad.

UC Irvine is coming off a season where it posted a fourth 40-plus win season (43-18) in five years, finished second in the Big West with a 16-8 mark and advanced to the Super Regionals after earning an at-large berth into its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike Gillespie returns three All-Big West honorees, including American Baseball Coaches Association Gold Glove catcher, Ronnie Shaeffer.

Third-place pick Long Beach State might be showcasing the most veteran Big West team this season as the 49ers welcome back 24 letterwinners, which includes seven starting position players and two starting pitchers from last year's team. Long Beach State boasted a 29-27 overall mark after playing one of the strongest schedules in the country.

Earning the fourth spot is Cal Poly, who finished last season in third place with a 15-9 record. This year head coach Larry Lee leads a team that is highlighted by five starting position players and four starting pitchers.

UC Riverside secured the fifth spot with 44 total points, followed by UC Santa Barbara in the sixth slot with 37 points. Pacific garnered 37 points to lock down the seventh spot, while UC Davis and Cal State Northridge were picked eighth and ninth, earning 23 and 18 points, respectively.

Titans Face Nation's Best Opening Weekend
Noone can say that 16th-ranked Cal State Fullerton is taking the easy road on its quest to its 34th appearance in the NCAA Tournament as has awarded the Titans with the nation's toughest nonconference strength of schedule. This year the Titans are battled-tested right out of the gates as they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to take on national runner-up No. 1 Florida in a three-game, season-opening series. The last time Cal State Fullerton faced a top-ranked opponent was back in 2010 when No. 1 Arizona State (according to Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN polls) visited Goodwin Field for a two-game midweek series. The Titans dropped both contests by scores of 6-5 and 8-6.

UCSB, Pacific Tackle Top 25
Cal State Fullerton isnt the only team kicking off the new year with a weekend series against a top-25 opponent. UC Santa Barbara and Pacific both are slated to face some of the country's top teams this weekend. The Gauchos, under first-year head coach Andrew Checketts, welcome No. 19 Oregon State to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The four-game series gets underway Friday, Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. and is followed by a double-header beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday and a single-game matinee on Sunday. The two teams squared off in a three-game series last year with the Beavers coming out on top, 2-1.

The Tigers of Pacific open the 2012 season visiting the Cinderella team from last year's NCAA Tournament, No. 22 California. First pitch of game one of the three-game series is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's contests begin at 1:00 p.m.

LBSU's Magallon Named To Preseason Watch List
Junior Eddie Magallon was one of 45 pitchers to be named to the 2012 National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award preseason watch list. The annual award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. Magallon (2-1) posted a career-low 3.62 ERA last season for the Dirtbags in 23 appearances, while tallying nine saves to rank third in the Big West Conference.

This is the second time Magallon was named to the Stopper of the Year watch list after receiving the same recognition last year. The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced during the 2012 College World Series.

The Boob Tube
Two Big West contests have been selected by ESPNU as part of its 2012 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 15 at 2:00 p.m. at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark. The Anteaters make their second appearance on ESPNU the following month when they host UC Santa Barbara on May 6 at 2:00 p.m.

The Anteaters also make a third appearance on the small screen this season. Opening weekend they battle Southern University as part of the Urban Invitational in Houston, Texas. UCIs contest against the Jaguars on February 18 will be broadcast live from Minute Maid Park as part of the annual, round-robin collegiate baseball tournament designed to give Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs national exposure. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (PT).

New Blood At Helm Of Three Programs
The Big West features a multitude of fresh faces this baseball season as one-third of the schools changed leadership in the offseason. Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara showcase a new skipper for the 2012 season.

Following the departure of Head Coach Dave Serrano, who left to take the head job at Tennessee, Cal State Fullerton hired former Titan assistant Rick Vanderhook as the Titans' fifth Division I head coach. A coaching veteran of 12 conference championships, 20 postseason appearances, eight Super Regionals appearances, 11 trips to the College World Series and two national championships, Vanderhook comes back to lead a program that has been a fixture among the nation's elite since 1975.

UC Davis elevated associate head coach Matt Vaughn to head coach after Rex Peters announced his resignation following the conclusion of the 2011 season. Vaughn, an Aggie pitcher from 1989-92, enjoys a long affiliation with UCD and has spent the last 19 seasons as an assistant.

Andrew Checketts, who has spent the past three seasons as the top assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Oregon, was named UC Santa Barbara's new head baseball coach following the departure of Bob Brontsema. Checketts becomes the ninth head coach in Gaucho baseball history.

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 three years ago with a near perfect conference mark of 22-2.

The 2011 MLB Draft
Thirty-seven Big West Conference players were selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Long Beach State's Andrew Gagnon was the first to be named, going in the fourth round to the Milwaukee Brewers with the 100th overall pick. Gagnon became the eighth LBSU player to be picked in the first three rounds in the last four years, and the fifth pitcher.

Cal State Fullerton led all Big West schools with nine selections. UC Riverside witnessed seven players selected in this year's draft, ranking second in the league. Cal Poly and UC Irvine had five players selected, while Long Beach State saw four players nabbed. A trio of Gauchos heard their names called, while Cal State Northridge and UC Davis had two picks apiece.

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 seventh year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball as well as men's and women's basketball. Also covered are select contests in men's and women's 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!