Baseball Visits No. 18 Arizona State

    April 7, 1998

    THE TEAM ~ The No. 3 USC baseball team ~ which won the 2,000th game in school history earlier this season ~ is 29-8 overall and 14-4 for first place in the Pacific-10 Conference Southern Division in 1998 (one-half game ahead of Stanford). The Trojans, who are aiming for their third conference title and second College World Series trip in the past four years, visit No. 18 Arizona State (24-14, 11-6) for a three-game series this weekend (April 9-11). Thursday and Friday,s games are at 7 p.m. and Saturday is at 1 p.m. USC has won nine straight games in the state of Arizona.

    THE RANKINGS ~ USC is ranked No. 3 by Baseball America and The Sporting News, No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 5 by USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN. In the preseason polls, USC was ranked No. 5 by Baseball America, USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN and The Sporting News and No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball. The Trojans were tabbed by the conference coaches to finish third in the Pac-10 Southern Division (Stanford and Arizona State were No. 1 and 2, respectively). Arizona State is No. 18 in USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN, No. 19 in Baseball America and The Sporting News and No. 20 in Collegiate Baseball.

    ON THE AIR ~ Twelve regular-season games and all postseason games will be broadcast on the radio by KPLS-AM (830). Larry Kahn and Justin Dedeaux will handle the play-by-play and color, respectively. Ten of the 12 games will be broadcast live, while the April 3 and May 10 contests will be on tape-delay.

    QUICK STATS ~ The USC pitching staff has 333 strikeouts in 332 innings ... USC has 63 home runs and is on pace to break the school record of 85 ... USC has a 14-0 record in away or neutral-site games ... Five of USC,s eight losses have come on a Sunday.

    RECORD BOOKS ~ Senior RHP Seth Etherton has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 12 times in his career, more than any other player in Pac-10 history. He has also been named a National Pitcher of the Week three times this season. Etherton should set the Pac-10 career record for strikeouts in the next few weeks ... Senior RHP Jack Krawczyk has 40 career saves, a Pac-10 record and good for third place on the NCAA Division I all-time list.

    COACH OF THE CENTURY ~ Collegiate Baseball named former coach Rod Dedeaux, who won 11 NCAA titles at USC and had an overall record of 1,332-571-11, its NCAA Division I ,Coach of the Century0/00 in the April 3 issue.

    50 YEARS AGO ~ In 1948, Kentucky won its first NCAA men,s basketball championship, Michigan won its first NCAA ice hockey title and USC won its first NCAA baseball championship.In the last two weeks, the Wildcats won the 1998 basketball title and the Wolverines won the 1998 ice hockey title. In addition, both USC and Kentucky won baseball and basketball crowns, respectively, in 1948, 1958 and 1978. Can history repeat itself for the Trojans in 1998?

    SIX-PAC STATS (as of April 5) ~ USC was second in team hitting (.328) and first in team pitching (3.65 ERA) ... Seth Etherton was first in strikeouts (106), second in wins (eight) and third in ERA (2.28) ... Jack Krawczyk was first in saves (14) ... Mike Penney was fifth in ERA (3.92) and tied for sixth in wins (five) ... Eric Munson was fourth in home runs (11) ... Jeremy Freitas was tied for sixth in home runs (10) ... Robb Gorr was sixth in hits (55) and 10th in hitting (.372) ... Morgan Ensberg and Wes Rachels were tied for seventh in stolen bases (12 each).

    LAST FOUR GAMES (1-2 vs. Stanford, 1-0 vs. HawaiOEi Hilo) - In a game destined to go down as a classic, No. 1 Stanford edged No. 2 USC, 1-0, on Friday night at Dedeaux Field. In a battle of aces, Stanford junior RHP Jeff Austin (9-0) and USC senior RHP Seth Etherton (8-1) both were outstanding and pitched complete games. Etherton struck out a career-high 15 and gave up four hits and no walks. He threw 93 strikes in 125 pitches. It was Etherton,s first loss since April 5, 1997 (also against Stanford at Dedeaux Field). Austin struck out eight and gave up six hits and one walk in the shutout. Only one bad pitch was thrown, as Stanford junior CF Jody Gerut hit a solo home run with one out in the top of the seventh inning off Etherton for the game,s only run. Senior 2B Wes Rachels and junior 1B Robb Gorr had two hits each for USC. After Saturday,s game was rained out, the two teams played a doubleheader on Sunday. Stanford won the first game, 7-6. The game was tied, 3-3, until the top of the sixth when the Cardinal hit a solo home run to make it 4-3, then scored three runs in the seventh inning to go ahead 7-3. It stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Gorr crushed a two-out, three-run home run to pull the Trojans within one run. The next batter walked, but the final USC hitter flew out. Junior RHP Mike Penney (5-2) took the loss. Rachels had three hits and Gorr and freshman SS Seth Davidson each had two hits. The Trojans ended an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinal in the second game of the doubleheader and the series finale, 7-4. Junior LHP/DH Jason Lane (4-0) hit a solo home run and went 3 2/3 innings in relief to earn the victory and senior RHP Jack Krawczyk pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 14th save of the season and the 40th of his career. Senior LF Jeremy Freitas hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to give USC a 2-0 lead. In the third, Gorr hit a two-run home run, his second blast of the day, and junior RF Dominic Correa had a two-run single to make it 6-0. Stanford closed to within 6-3, but Lane hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. Rachels, Gorr and Freitas all had two hits apiece. On Monday, four players homered in a 12-3 victory over HawaiOEi Hilo at Dedeaux Field. After the Trojans fell behind, 2-0, they came back with seven runs in the bottom of the second. Lane and Gorr each hit two-run home runs, Rachels had a two-RBI single and Davidson had a sacrifice fly. USC scored four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to go up 11-2. Sophomore DH Eric Munson hit a two-run homer, Correa drove in a run on an error and sophomore C Josh Townsend had an RBI single, the first hit of his career. USC,s final run came in the bottom of the eighth as junior C Camilo Gomez slugged a solo home run to left field, also the first hit of his career. The Trojans cleared their bench and used 23 players, including six pitchers. Senior RHP Mike Weibling (2-0) threw two scoreless innings in relief to get the win.

    SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS ~ No. 18 Arizona State, under fourth-year head coach Pat Murphy, is 24-14 overall and 11-6 in the Six-Pac and has won its last four, including a three-game sweep at Arizona. Sophomore 2B Willie Bloomquist leads the Six-Pac with a .413 average. ASU has a team batting average of .299 and a team ERA of 4.63.

    THE SERIES ~ USC leads the all-time series, 77-72, which began in 1961. The Trojans have won 15 of the last 18 games, including all three at Packard Stadium in 1997. All-time at Packard Stadium, USC is 35-46.

    PITCHING ROTATION ~ USC,s starting pitching rotation for this weekend,s series against Arizona State is as follows: senior RHP Seth Etherton (8-1, 2.28 ERA) on Thursday, junior RHP Mike Penney (5-2, 3.92) on Friday and freshman RHP Rik Currier (3-0, 3.81) on Saturday. For Arizona State, junior LHP Ryan Mills (4-3, 4.52) will start on Thursday and junior LHP Phill Lowery (6-4, 4.21) will start on either Friday or Saturday. The third starter is TBA.

    FIRST TIME AROUND ~ The Trojans swept a three-game series at Dedeaux Field on March 14-15. In the first game of a doubleheader on March 14, senior LF Jeremy Freitas doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 victory. In the second game of the doubleheader, senior 3B Morgan Ensberg hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and junior RHP Mike Penney pitched a complete game in a 13-5 win. In the finale, junior RF Brad Ticehurst hit a two-run homer and took away a two-run homer with a leaping catch in a 6-3 victory.

    CELEBRATE IN ,98 ~ The 1998 season marks the 50th anniversary of USC baseball,s first-ever national championship team (1948). Troy also will commemorate three other NCAA championship anniversaries this year: 40th (1958), 30th (1968) and 20th (1978). The 1968 and 1978 teams will be honored on April 18 and the 1948 and 1958 teams will be honored on April 25.

    TROJAN TRADITION ~ No other university can match the collegiate baseball tradition of USC. Troy has captured an unprecedented 11 NCAA championships (no other school has more than five), 36 conference titles and 18 College World Series appearances (second most in the nation). Trojan players have been named All-American first teamers 36 times, and more than 70 former players have gone on to play in the major leagues, including such stars as Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Ron Fairly, Randy Johnson, Mark McGwire, Jeff Cirillo and Bret Boone.

    SIX-PAC POWERHOUSE IN THE 90s ~ No Pac-10 Southern Division team has been more successful in the 1990s than USC. Here,s a look at Trojan baseball ~ going into the 1998 season ~ during the current decade compared to other Pac-10 Southern Division opponents:
    ~ USC had the best winning percentage (.655); ~ USC was tops (tied with Stanford) for most wins (150); ~ USC is the only school with 40 or more wins six times in this decade, including the last four;
    ~ USC is the only school to have finished with a Top 10 ranking in six of the past eight years;
    ~ USC has captured a league-best three conference championships (tied with Stanford);
    ~ USC has reached the NCAA playoffs a league-leading seven times (tied with Stanford) ~ and advanced to the regional finals in six of those years (including the last five);
    ~ And, finally, USC is the only Pac-10 team to reach the College World Series championship game in the 1990s.

    COACHS CORNER ~ Mike Gillespie, in his 12th season as the Trojans, head coach, has a 463-258-2 (.642) career record and has led USC to three conference titles (1991-95-96), nine trips to the NCAA Regionals in 11 years (reaching the Regional finals seven times), and a trip to the 1995 College World Series (where Troy finished as the nation,s runner-up). He has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times (1991-95-96) and was also honored as the 1996 West Region Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He served as one of the assistant coaches for the 1997 USA Baseball Team. Gillespie was a leftfielder for the 1961 USC team that won the national championship (his 1960 team finished as the College World Series runner-up).

    TOUGH SCHEDULE ~ USC once again boasts one of the nation,s most competitive schedules. Troy plays 36 of 56 games against teams ranked in the preseason polls, including 14 games against teams ranked in the Top 10. In addition, USC,s conference ~ the Pac-10 Southern Division ~ is ranked the second-toughest league in the nation by Baseball America.

    TERRIFIC 2,000 ~ USC,s 10-2 victory in the series finale against North Carolina on Feb. 15 was the 2,000th victory in school history. Troy currently has a 2,022-960-17 collegiate record.

    THE NUMBERS GAME ~ USC returns 17 lettermen, including six starting position players and one starting pitcher, off the 1997 team that finished 42-20 overall and 17-13 in the Pacific-10 Southern Division for third place. Leading Troy,s returners are three 1997 All-Pac-10 first team selections: senior RHP Seth Etherton, a 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American first team pick who was the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year; sophomore C Eric Munson, a 1998 consensus preseason All-American first teamer who was named The Sporting News, 1997 Freshman of the Year; and senior 2B Wes Rachels. Also back are senior 3B Morgan Ensberg, senior RHP Jack Krawczyk (the Pac-10,s save leader for the past two seasons), a trio of junior OFs (Robb Gorr, Greg Hanoian and Brad Ticehurst) and three junior RHPs (Steve Immel, Craig Jones, Mike Penney). The Trojans have 12 newcomers to the team, including three junior college transfers. Troy lost seven lettermen from last year, including three-time All-Pac-10 LHP Randy Flores, who is USC,s all-time winningest pitcher with 42 career victories, 1997 All-Pac-10 SS Marc Mirizzi, two-year starting RHP Scott Henderson and three-year starting 1B Greg Walbridge.

    NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ~ Although USC features an experienced team in 1998, several new faces are contributing in their first seasons at USC. Freshman Seth Davidson, from University High in San Diego (Calif.), junior Dominic Correa, a transfer from Sacramento (Calif.) City College, and sophomore Kevin Schultz, a 1997 reserve, have all seen time at shortstop. Another transfer, junior Jason Lane of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, sees time as both a designated hitter and lefthanded reliever. Rod Perry, Jr., a freshman who attended Mater Dei High, has been a contributor in the outfield. And, with the loss of two starting pitchers from last season (career win leader Randy Flores and Scott Henderson), several freshmen have seen action on the mound for the Trojans in 1998: RHP Rik Currier (Capistrano Valley High), RHP Tanner Eriksen (Bullard High in Fresno, Calif.), RHP Shaun Kramer (Diamond Bar High) and LHP Ronald Flores (El Rancho High in Pico Rivera, Calif.), Randy,s younger brother.

    A LOOK BACK ~ USC began the 1997 season winning seven of its first eight games (including two of three over Arizona State in January in the earliest start to conference action ever). The Trojans were then bit by the injury/illness bug, losing catcher Jason Brown for 19 games (knee surgery) and second baseman Wes Rachels (death of his father) for eight games. Despite a thin lineup, Troy won 10 of the next 12 non-conference games, including a season-best nine-game winning streak. USC returned to conference action and hit a roadblock as it was swept at Stanford in the three-game series. The Trojans rebounded to win five of their next six league games and nine of 12, despite losing first baseman Greg Walbridge for three games (perforated eardrum) and outfielder Greg Hanoian for the remainder of the season (shoulder surgery). After a late-season slump, USC finished strong, winning eight of its last 10 games to finish 17-13 in league play (third place) and 39-18 overall. Troy then headed for the South II Regional in Tuscaloosa (Ala.), where Troy reached the final game, losing to host and eventual national champion runner-up Alabama, 9-8, in 10 innings.

    OVERVIEW ~ USC currently has a team ERA of 3.55. It,s only a little more than halfway through the season, but that,s exceptional considering the competition and that USC has had a sub-4.00 ERA in only two of the last 17 seasons. On the whole, the pitchers are giving up less than a hit an inning (307 hits in 332 innings) and have more strikeouts (333) than innings pitched (332).

    SETH ETHERTON (#33, RHP, Sr., 6-1, 205, Laguna Niguel)
    ~ Senior RHP Seth Etherton, a 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American first teamer, has established himself as one of college baseball,s finest starting pitchers. Etherton, a 1997 All-Pac-10 first team pick who was the 1996 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, returned for his third season as a starter after rejecting a contract offer from the St. Louis Cardinals (he was a ninth-round pick in the 1997 draft). He is 8-1 in 10 starts with a 2.28 ERA in 1998. He has 106 strikeouts and only 18 walks and 52 hits in 79 innings and opponents are batting .180 against him. Seth has moved into USC,s career Top 10 list for wins (32, No. 7) and strikeouts (344, No. 2). His 344 career strikeouts are also good for No. 2 on the Pac-10 all-time list. He is chasing former Trojan pitcher Brent Strom, who had 363 strikeouts from 1968-70 for both the school and conference record. Etherton is a three-time National Pitcher of the Week in 1998. He earned that honor from both Louisville Slugger and The Sporting News after throwing a three-hit shutout against North Carolina (Feb. 13) and striking out 13 without walking a batter or allowing a runner to reach second base. He received that honor again from The Sporting News after throwing a two-hit shutout against Oregon State (March 6), striking out 13 while walking two and only allowing one runner to reach second base. The third award, from Collegiate Baseball, came against Stanford (April 3), when he had a career-high 15 strikeouts and only four hits and no walks in a 1-0 loss between the top two teams in the country. He was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week after all three contests, as well as against then-No. 4 Arizona (Feb. 20) when he went eight innings, struck out nine and allowed four hits and one run. He has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week 12 times in his career (four times in 1998), more than any other player in conference history. Prior to his no-decision against Arizona State (March 14), he had won 11 straight starts dating back to 1997. Prior to his loss to Stanford (April 3), he had 13 straight wins without a loss. In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 41 among college prospects (a figure that has likely since improved).

    MIKE PENNEY (#45, RHP, Jr., 6-0, 190, Laguna Niguel)
    ~ Junior RHP Mike Penney has gone from being a key middle reliever last season to the No. 2 starter this season. He is 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 62 innings. He struck out a career-high six in a win against North Carolina (Feb. 14). He pitched the first nine-inning complete game of his career in a win against Arizona State (March 14) and gave up eight hits, three earned runs and three walks while striking out two. In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 72 among college prospects.

    RIK CURRIER (#28 or #15, RHP, Fr., 5-10, 175, Dana Point)
    ~ True freshman RHP Rik Currier, who has made four starts for the Trojans, has established himself in the pitching rotation. He is 3-0 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 appearances and has 41 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. Against Arizona (March 22), he had eight strikeouts in four innings of relief and got the win. Against California (March 29), he won his first career league start and struck out a career-high nine in six innings.

    JACK KRAWCZYK (#35, RHP, Sr., 6-5, 195, Scottsdale, AZ)
    ~ One of the nation,s top relief pitchers and the Pacific-10 Conference,s career save leader (40), senior RHP Jack Krawczyk again heads up Troy,s bullpen in 1998. A 1998 Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American second team pick, he had three saves in 1995, 12 in 1996 and 11 in 1997. This season, Jack is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA and 14 saves. He once had a stretch of six saves in eight games. Krawczyk is No. 3 on the NCAA,s Division I career save list (Tom Hickox of Stetson, who is No. 1, had 48 from 1988-91). He picked up his 27th career save (which broke the school record) against Long Beach State (Feb. 1), his 31st (to tie the Pac-10 record held by Washington,s Brett Merrick from 1993-96) against Arizona (Feb. 21) and his 32nd (breaking the Pac-10 record) against UCLA (Feb. 28). His 99 appearances are No. 2 on Troy,s career list, just one shy of leader Phil Kendall (100).

    JASON LANE (#16 LHP/DH, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol)
    ~ Junior LHP Jason Lane has been an excellent addition, both as a reliever and a starter. Overall, Lane is 4-0 with a 4.36 ERA in 17 appearances (two starts) and 33 innings. In his first start, he got the win against Arizona State (March 15). He earned a victory in relief against No. 1 Stanford (April 5), giving up one run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings. Lane was the 1997 Northern California Junior College Player of the Year at Santa Rosa JC last season. Regardless of whether he,s pitching, Lane is also the starting designated hitter.

    JASON SAENZ (#51, LHP, Jr., 6-2, 195, Santa Ana)
    ~ A hard-throwing lefthander, junior Jason Saenz began the season as one of USC,s three regular starters and is now in the bullpen. After going only 19 1/3 innings (with 21 strikeouts) in his first two seasons, he has already eclipsed that mark and is 1-2 in 12 appearances (six starts) with a 3.62 ERA. In 27 1/3 innings, he has 26 strikeouts. Saenz struck out a career-high seven in a win against North Carolina (Feb. 15). In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 100 among college prospects.

    ~ Veteran RHP Steve Immel, a junior, saw a great deal of work as both a starter and a reliever his first two seasons and is continuing to do so again. He is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 appearances (two starts) ... Junior RHP Craig Jones is another experienced arm in the bullpen. He is 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA. He had a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings as he started and won against Pepperdine (March 24) ... Senior RHP Mike Weibling is again a standout in long relief, with a 2-0 record and a 3.14 ERA ... Three other true freshmen have seen time: RHP Tanner Eriksen (0-0, 0.00); LHP Ronald Flores (0-0, 6.23), the younger brother of USC,s all-time winningest pitcher, Randy Flores; and RHP Shaun Kramer (0-0, 9.82).

    OVERVIEW ~ USC is hitting .329 as a team and is averaging 7.9 runs a game. The Trojans have had season highs of 16 runs twice (Long Beach State on Jan. 30 and North Carolina on Feb. 14) and had a season high 21 hits against UC Santa Barbara (March 3). USC has 63 home runs in 37 games, an average of 1.70 a game. The school records are 85 home runs in 1984 and a 1.29 average in 1978.

    ERIC MUNSON (#3, C, So., 6-3, 220, San Diego)
    ~ He,s just a sophomore but there,s little doubt that Eric Munson is the top collegiate catcher in the nation. A consensus 1998 preseason All-American, he,s the only catcher selected to the Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and The Sporting News first teams. And he,s the only sophomore named to all three preseason teams. A member of the 1997 USA National Team, he has been invited to the 1998 USA Baseball training camp in June. Munson, who was named The Sporting News, Freshman of the Year last year, was selected to the 1997 All-Pac-10 first team after hitting .336 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 50 RBI as just a freshman. So far in 1998, he,s hitting .352 with team highs of 12 home runs and 41 RBI. In the opener against North Carolina (Feb. 13), he was 5-for-6 with three RBI. He missed the Arizona State series (March 14-15) after a freak accident during batting practice when a foul ball went under the batting cage, bounced up and struck him above the left eye. He came back with a 3-for-4, two-RBI effort against Loyola Marymount (March 17), then batted .462 (6-for-13) with three home runs at Arizona (March 20-22) to win Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. He has 13 multiple-RBI games this season, including a career-high five RBI in the finale at Arizona (March 22). Baseball America recently listed him as the No. 1 prospect among the nation,s sophomore class.

    MORGAN ENSBERG (#14, 3B, Sr., 6-2, 210, Hermosa Beach)
    ~ Senior third baseman Morgan Ensberg is having a tremendous season. Ensberg, who batted .306 last season, is currently hitting .364 with nine home runs, 36 RBI, 37 runs scored, 12 stolen bases and 11 doubles. He has a .446 batting average in the Six-Pac, thanks in part to an .800 (8-for-10) average against Arizona State (March 14-15) and a .615 (8-for-13) average against UCLA (Feb. 27-March 1). He hit two home runs and had a career-high six RBI against Arizona State (March 14). He was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his efforts against the Sun Devils, which included a streak of 10 consecutive times reached base.

    ROBB GORR (#10, 1B, Jr., 6-0, 195, Vista)
    ~ Last year,s starting centerfielder, junior Robb Gorr has taken over at first base for three-year starter Greg Walbridge. A year ago, he hit .347 with a team-high 52 RBI, and thus far, he,s been one of the standouts again with a team-high .371 batting average, six home runs and 35 RBI. He had a 10-game hitting streak (20-for-42, .476) at the beginning of the season, has hit safely in 32 of 37 games and has 20 multiple-hit games. He hit home runs in both ends of a doubleheader against No. 1 Stanford (April 5) and has homered in each of the last three games.

    WES RACHELS (#24, 2B, Sr., 5-9, 175, Los Angeles)
    ~ A steady and experienced player, senior second baseman Wes Rachels again anchors the Trojan infield in 1998. Rachels, who hit .364 with 41 RBI last year, achieved 1997 All-Pac-10 first team and USC MVP honors. He reached base in all but two of the 53 games he played last year and hit safely in all but eight. He is currently hitting .346 with 13 RBI and 12 stolen bases and has reached base in 30 of 35 games. At Arizona (March 20-22), he batted .500 (6-for-12) with six stolen bases. He,s been on a tear lately, going 11-for-17 (.645) in the last five games. With 37 stolen bases in his career, Rachels is No. 9 (tied) on the Trojans, all-time list.

    JEREMY FREITAS (#37, LF, Sr., 6-3, 210, Hanford)
    ~ Senior leftfielder Jeremy Freitas has been providing a great deal of punch this season. After transferring from Fresno (Calif.) City College and batting .277 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 1997, he quickly surpassed last year,s home run total in 1998 and has 10, to go with a .347 average and 32 RBI. He hit two home runs against Texas (Feb. 7). Freitas has been named to the 1998 All-American Farm Team by Successful Farming magazine, an honor going to student-athletes with a farming background. He was named team captain of the baseball squad, resulting in a $1,000 scholarship donation to the university.

    JASON LANE (#16, DH/LHP, Jr., 6-2, 205, Sebastopol)
    ~ Newcomer Jason Lane has shown why he was named the 1997 Northern California Junior College Player of the Year at Santa Rosa J.C. In addition to his contributions as a pitcher, the junior designated hitter is batting .336 with nine home runs, 33 RBI and 34 runs scored. When Lane comes to the plate as the pitcher, he,s batting .571 (8-for-14). He went 4-for-5 with an RBI against California (March 28).

    BRAD TICEHURST (#8, RF, Jr., 6-1, 200, Los Alamitos)
    ~ Junior rightfielder Brad Ticehurst moved into the starting lineup when Greg Hanoian was injured in 1997 and has been there ever since. He,s batting .240 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 1998. He blasted a two-run home run and made a fantastic leaping grab to steal a potential two-run home run against Arizona State (March 15). In the Baseball America early draft preview, he was rated No. 78 among college prospects.

    SETH DAVIDSON (#2, SS, Fr., 6-0, 170, San Diego)
    ~ A true freshman who has shown equal talent with the glove and bat, shortstop Seth Davidson has started 29 games (appearing in 31) while hitting .337 overall and .367 in Six-Pac play. Five of his 14 RBI came in the first two games against California (March 27-28). His 10-game hitting streak (.390, 16-for-41) ended in the first game of the Stanford series. He hit his first career home run at Arizona (March 20). His suicide squeeze bunt in the top of the 10th inning gave USC the go-ahead run in a victory against Cal (March 28).

    ROD PERRY, Jr. (#6, CF, Fr., 5-10, 185, Irvine)
    ~ True freshman Rod Perry, Jr. (.268) has started 12 of the last 20 games after beginning the season as a late-inning defensive replacement in center field. In his first career start against UC Santa Barbara (March 3), he went 4-for-5 with three RBI. He had a two-run triple in the eighth inning that proved to be the game-winning hit at Arizona (March 20), then slugged his first career home run against the Wildcats the next day (March 21). Perry is also a wide receiver on the Trojan football team.

    GREG HANOIAN (#25, CF, Jr., 5-9, 175, Huntington Beach)
    ~ A shoulder injury ended Greg Hanoian,s 1997 season early and a similar shoulder injury caused him to miss more time. The junior centerfielder separated his right shoulder making a diving catch against Arizona State (March 14), though he may return in another week. He was a big part of the Trojan attack before the injury, scoring 18 runs and batting .311 in 19 games in 1998.

    JEFF DePIPPO (#9, OF/C, Sr., 5-7, 170, Garden Grove)
    ~ A versatile player who has been used all around the park, senior Jeff DePippo had seen a lot of action in 1998 prior to an off-the-field mishap that cracked a rib. How much time he,ll miss has not yet been determined. He has been used in all three outfield positions, at catcher, designated hitter and as a pinch-hitter. He is batting .297 with three home runs and 13 RBI. He executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt against UCLA (March 1).

    ~ Sophomore Kevin Schultz has seen time at shortstop and has fared well. Schultz has started six games (appearing in 15) while hitting .250 ... Junior Dominic Correa has seen playing time in the middle infield, the outfield and as a designated hitter and is batting .324 ... Freshman Josh Persell is hitless in seven at-bats as a pinch-hitter but has one run scored and one RBI ... Reserve sophomore first baseman Carlos Casillas is hitting .429 (3-for-7) ... Reserve catchers Camilo Gomez and Josh Townsend each got their first career hits against HawaiOEi Hilo (April 6). Gomez (1.000), a junior, slugged a home run to left field in his only at-bat of the year. Townsend (.333), a sophomore, had an RBI single.