FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
SAN BRUNO, Calif. – With the first pitch of the 2011 season barely a week away, the University of San Diego is a unanimous selection to repeat as the West Coast Conference champions, garnering all seven possible first place votes and 49 points in a preseason poll of the eight WCC head coaches, announced Thursday. The conference also announced its preseason all-conference team, as voted on by the head coaches.
Last season was memorable for USD. Led by 2010 WCC Player of the Year James Meador and Pitcher of the Year Kyle Blair, the Toreros posted a 19-2 WCC record en route to an NCAA berth and a 37-win season. Despite having ten players drafted, Coach Rich Hill and his staff have reloaded once again. This year’s team is paced by senior outfielder Kevin Muno. A preseason All-WCC selection, Muno led the WCC in both runs scored and stolen bases a season ago.
The coaches selected Pepperdine to finish second in the WCC with 39 points. Pepperdine brings back a wealth of talent, including preseason all-conference selections Brian Humphries and Joe Sever. Both Humphries, a junior outfielder, and Sever, a sophomore infielder, were All-WCC First Team selections last season.
Senior Stephen Yarrow led the WCC in home runs in 2010, and is a preseason all-conference selection in 2011, as his San Francisco team finished third in the coaches poll with 33 points. Portland, which captured the remaining first place vote, came in fourth with 32 points. Senior infielder Riley Henricks, senior closer Chris Dennis, and junior pitcher Kyle Kraus earned Preseason All-WCC recognition. All three Pilots were First Team All-WCC selections a season ago, and Dennis has been named to the Preseason All-America Team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Loyola Marymount (23 points) and Gonzaga (20 points) were selected fifth and sixth, by the WCC coaches. The Lions boast a league-high four preseason all-conference picks, including last year’s WCC Freshman of the Year, Matt Lowenstein. Junior pitcher Martin Viramontes, junior outfielder Ryan Hawthorne, and senior infielder Jonathan Johnson are also preseason all-conference honorees. Gonzaga junior hurler Ryan Carpenter posted a 3.52 earned run average over four conference starts last year, earning a spot on the preseason All-WCC roster.
Santa Clara (16 points) and Saint Mary’s (12 points) round out the poll. Senior first baseman and designated hitter Curtis Wagner represents the Broncos on the preseason squad after leading the WCC in on-base percentage a season ago. Saint Mary’s is led by a pair of preseason All-WCC members, junior infielder Troy Channing and senior pitcher Mark Anderson. Channing ripped 15 homers and drove in 54 runs a season ago, while Anderson ranked among the league leaders in both victories and innings pitched in 2010.
The 2011 West Coast Conference baseball season gets underway on Friday, February 18 with all eight teams in action. WCC play begins on Friday, April 15. For a complete interactive West Coast Conference baseball schedule, log on to WCCsports.com.
2011 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
Team (First Place Votes) – Points
San Diego (7) – 49
Pepperdine – 39
San Francisco - 33
Portland (1) – 32
Loyola Marymount – 23
Gonzaga - 20
Santa Clara – 16
Saint Mary’s – 12
2011 PRESEASON ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM
Player, School, Yr., Pos.
Troy Channing, Saint Mary’s, Jr., IF
Ryan Hawthorne, Loyola Marymount, Jr., OF
Riley Henricks, Portland, Sr., IF
Brian Humphries, Pepperdine, Jr., OF
Jonathan Johnson, Loyola Marymount, Sr., INF
Matt Lowenstein, Loyola Marymount, So., OF/INF
Kevin Muno, San Diego, Sr., OF
Joe Sever, Pepperdine, So., IF
Curtis Wagner, Santa Clara, Sr., 1B/DH
Stephen Yarrow, San Francisco, Sr., IF
Pitcher, School, Yr.
Mark Anderson, Saint Mary’s, Jr.
Ryan Carpenter, Gonzaga, Jr.
Chris Dennis, Portland, Sr.
Kyle Kraus, Portland, Jr.
Martin Viramontes, Loyola Marymount, Jr.