The Calm Before the Storm
Welcome sports fans to another exciting season of UCI baseball. Coming off a disappointing season riddled with injuries which affected several key starters, the Anteaters have reloaded with a strong recruiting class of freshmen talent, especially at the pitching position.
Last year’s injured players are returning as well, to give the Anteaters a deep roster. The Anteaters are currently ranked fourth in the Big West Conference and look to topple perennial divisional and national heavyweights Cal State Fullerton, ranked eighth in the nation, and Long Beach State, ranked 12th in the nation.
So far in the pre-season, the Anteaters are receiving some divisional as well as some national attention.
Right-handed junior pitcher Brett Smith was the 30th-ranked player in Baseball America’s College Class of 2004 Top 200 Prospects. As a sophomore, he was named to the 2003 Big West All-Conference second-team, compiling an eight-win season with a gaudy 87 strikeouts, ranking as eighth-best all-time in Anteater history. Another returning Anteater standout is sophomore catcher Mark Wagner. Wagner garnered Collegiate Baseball ‘Louisville Slugger’ Freshman All-American honors last season, as he batted his way to a team-high 19 doubles and 31 RBIs.
Last season, the Anteaters held opponents to a .260 batting average but hit only .253 as a team because of the absence of the Anteaters’ four big bats that spent prolonged time on the injured list. Those four big bats