Here’s my preview of the USC baseball team, which opens play tonight at 6 against Northwestern at Dedeaux Field. Coach Dan Hubbs’ toughest job is trying to find players with only 11.7 scholarships.
“It’s a challenge, but I’m not going to use it as an excuse,” Hubbs said. “No one will feel sorry for us. We have to get creative, whether it’s finding kids who qualify for financial aid or finding kids who can pay their own way.”
Roster oreview after the jump:
SS James Roberts — A mainstay at shortstop, Roberts was also a potent offensive threat who led USC in home runs (four) and RBIs (28). Was third in batting average at .320.
3B Adam Landecker — USC must replace its top hitter (.351) and one of its best defensive players. Also led Trojans in hits (71) and doubles (18).
OF Greg Zebrack — He started 55 games and finished just behind Roberts with a .345 average. His slugging percentage (.495) led the team and he scored team-high 35 runs.
RHP Wyatt Strahan — Will be the Trojans’ No. 1 pitcher this season and throws between 90-94 mph. Had lowest ERA on team last season (2.45) and held opponents to .247 average.
LHP Bob Wheatley — After being the No. 1 pitcher last season, will be No. 2 this year. Had a 2.78 ERA last season.
RHP Nigel Nootbaar — After being a relief pitcher last season, will move into starting rotation this year. Struck out 38 in 47 innings with three saves.
INF Dante Flores — Was the Trojans’ No. 3 hitter last season until a wrist injury sidelined him for almost two months. Drove in 11 runs in 24 starts and will be key hitter in lineup.
INF Kevin Swick — Hit .305 last season and drove in 16 runs. Also named an Academic All-American last season.
C Garrett Stubbs — He led the Pac-12 in runners caught stealing with 23 and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors. Stubbs did not commit an error in 44 games.
SS Frankie Rios — Will start at key position for the Trojans after starring at Long Beach Poly past three seasons. Hit .406 with 30 RBI and named to all-Southern Section Division I team last year.
DH/C Jeremy Martinez — Will probably be designated hitter at outset after being a three-time Division I first-team selection at Mater Dei. Also a high school All-American and member of USA under-18 national team.
INF Jeff Pashke — Hit 31 career home runs at Valley Christian High School in Arizona before he transferred to Santa Barbara for his senior season. Helped lead Valley Christian to 2-A state title his sophomore year.
INF/OF Joe Corrigan — Hit .312 with 23 RBIs in 32 games at Harvard-Westlake last season. A three-time all-Mission League selection.
— Scott Wolf