By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
After the opening weekend of the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division, the division Collegiate Baseball calls, "the toughest division in college baseball", the Six-Pac season looks to be filled with the usual group of outstanding players, national powerhouses and potential upsets. So, without further adieu, here is your Six-Pac preview:
Teams are listed in their predicted order of finish.
1994: Third in the Six-Pac (19-11), 41-20 overall.
Coach Mike Gillespie enters his ninth year at the helm for the Trojans and he has them in prime form. Three All-Americans return to the Trojan lineup in '95. Junior first-teamer Gabe Alvarez, junior second-teamer Geoff Jenkins, and junior honorable mention honoree Walter Dawkins will give the Trojans solid defense and powerful offense.
The USC pitching rotation is a solid group of experienced players led by sophomore left-hander Randy Flores. Flores was the top pitcher in the Six-Pac last year with an 11-1 record and a 1.66 ERA.
1994: Second in the Six-Pac (20-10), 45-18 overall. Lost in the College World Series semifinal to eventual national champion Oklahoma.
The death of head coach Jim Brock left a big void in the ASU program. Enter Pat Murphy. Murphy, the former Notre Dame head coach, was brought in this year and the Sun Devils haven't missed a step. They are 18-5 and No. 10 in the country.
Junior first baseman Robbie Kent went 8-for-11 in the Six-Pac opener against Arizona, and was named the Six-Pac player of the week. Kent, senior second baseman Randy Betten, and freshman centerfielder Richy Leon, will make ASU a powerhouse, despite the fact that they returned just two starters from last year.
The top three pitchers in the rotation are arguably the best in the Six-Pac. Senior Billy Neal, and sophomores Kaipo Spenser and Jason Bond are a combined 9-3, but Spenser is the star that shines the brightest. He is 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 40 innings. His 15 strikeout performance against Arizona earned him National Co-Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball
1994: First in the Six-Pac (21-9), 36-24 overall.
The Cardinal was the preseason No. 1 Baseball America, but faltered a bit in pre-conference play and now finds itself with a 12-9 record and at No. 12.
Stanford returns seven starters from last year's team including Cale Carter and Steve Carver. Carter, the Cardinal leadoff man is hitting .314, while Carver was the Pac-10 player of the week for Feb. 28 and is hitting .324.
Their starting rotation has struggled all season. A bulk of the 12 victories have gone to the middle relievers and closers. That is a telling sign that Stanford is having to come from behind a lot.
1994: Last in the Six-Pac (7-23), 15-40 overall.
After a disapointing '94, head coach Jerry Kindall went on a recruiting blitz. His efforts resulted in a recruiting class ranked No. 5 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
Led by veterans Menno Wickey, Jeff Gjerde and Chris Cooper, the lineup has had no trouble generating offense. Defensively however, the Wildcats have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot. They have committed over 70 errors as a team.
Senior Ryan Frace has been the workhorse pitcher thus far. He is 3-3, and all of his victories were complete games.
1994: Fifth in the Six-Pac (11-19), 22-36 overall.
Half of the teams the 10-8 Bruins have played this year are currently ranked in the Top 25. They are hitting over .400 as a team, led by catcher Tim Decinces' .635 average.
Sophomore right-hander John Phillips, the only returner from last year's squad, is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA. He was named Six-Pac player of the week for his outings against San Diego and USC last week. He pitched 14 innnings and allowed just one run.
1994: Fourth in the Six-Pac (12-18), 25-35 overall.
Cal has very little offensive punch. They are hitting just .269 as a team and have hit only five home runs in '95.
They are led by sophomore Dan Cey, son of former major leaguer Ron Cey. Cey is hitting .306 with a team leading 14 RBI.
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