Devils Anxious For Season to Start

Normally the Arizona State Sun Devils would have been nearly three weeks into their season at this point. But thanks to a new rule put in by the NCAA, the defending Pac-10 Champions must wait two and a half more weeks from now before hitting the diamond for the first time.

"It's tough. It's a great opportunity for us to work. There will be no discussion whether we start early and the best teams play well. It is going to be fun to play so many games because you get to keep playing baseball," said ASU third basemen Brett Wallace.

"It is interesting. Pitching wise it will be good for postseason, we'll get deep in the staff. More guys will have innings going in, you won't have to rely on 4 or 5," said junior catcher Petey Paramore, "Offensively, you get in a groove, and you get to stay in a groove. From a catching standpoint, it will be a lot more tiresome, luckily we got a guy like Kiel Roling who can share duties with me and keep us both fresh."

Paramore was voted team captain by his teammates for this season. Paramore becomes just the second captain in the Pat Murphy era.

"It's a huge honor. I'm real lucky that I had a great example last year in Rocky (Laguna). He'll continue to be the leader he was last year, this year. There are a lot of older guys on the team that know the ropes; I don't consider myself the only leader on this team. The other guys will do a great job leading the team in the right direction."

When the Devils finally hit the diamond for their opener February 22nd against Miami (OH) they will be looking to avenge their disappointing finish to what was truly a great season. The Devils won a Pac 10 Championship, but fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a National Championship.

"It was really disappointing, but it was great to get a taste of what it's like. Now we kind of know what we need to do to get there, but win. Everyone coming back is hungry and disappointed in how we finished," said Paramore.

The poster boy for the team's struggles in Omaha was Pac 10 Player of the Year Brett Wallace. Wallace went hitless in the College World Series.

"I think it is just part of being a baseball player. I think everyone says it is a game of failure. You succeed three times out of ten and you are great. It is something that is bred in you when you play baseball, whether you go 10 for 10 or 0 for 10, you are going to just keep going," said Wallace.

"Obviously it was hard. You want to help your team as much as you can and we obviously came up short of our team goal. We have great teammates, great leaders here and it was just you had to move on, because the cool thing about baseball is it keeps going."

Wallace hopes that the offense is more balanced this year and will rely less on individual players.

"I think we are going to be more balanced. Offensively I think we are going to more things, run a little bit, and hit and run a bit more," said Wallace, "I think this team has potential to really kind of have a complete offensive plan rather than just trying to slug people to death."

Wallace will look to defend his Pac 10 Player of the Year honor, but it won't be at first base. He'll slide across the diamond to third base this season.

"It's fun. It's hard work but anything I can do to help our team, get more bats in our lineup. It's going good. Last year was a few days before, hey, go grab a third basemen's glove and go over there. I think Coach Stankiewicz, you saw the impact he had on us last year turning us into the #1 defense in the country, just getting a whole fall working with him, I stayed through December just to kind of take extra groundballs and work on things like that," said Wallace, "I think his work is really going to show and I think he has done a great job helping me adjust to that and the whole infield kind of molding together."

"It is really about our team. Coach Murphy talked to me a little bit about it over the summer and when I got back he sat down with me. It is one of those things to do whatever to help our team. It is not about yourself, it's about the team. I was excited, I like challenges. I like people saying you can't do it and prove people wrong. A lot of people want to say, you are a first baseman, stay there. It is going to be fun to prove people wrong."

The Devils will have to replace both of their middle infielders in Andrew Romine and Eric Sogard. Both are positions that are not easy to replace. The competition is still wide open as of now.

"I think the cool thing about our team is that we all get along so well. Whether Leake is there, Torrez is there, Murphy is there we all have great communication, we get along, we all like each other. Either way it's going to be fun. I think they are really interchangeable," said Wallace.

An Achilles heel of ASU last season was the lack of pitching depth. It eventually caught up to them in the postseason. Paramore thinks they have more depth on the mound this season.

"Defense wins championships and pitching, especially in college baseball it's so hard with metal bats to find pitchers that can get consistent outs. We are lucky enough to have a couple guys at the top of the rotation that can do it, with Satow and Leake," said Paramore, "Finding guys at the back end is more challenging and getting those last nine outs, so the more depth you have in that area the better, and the better opportunities you'll have to go deeper in the postseason."

"I really like it. I think we got a good mix of guys. Some of them are really inexperienced and need to get their feet wet; we're starting to work on that now with scrimmages. As soon as they find their niche and their groove, I think it is going to be a real deep staff."

The Devils will need the deep pitching staff to compete in the Pac 10. Three different preseason polls show three different Pac 10 teams as the #1 team in the country. ASU, UCLA and Arizona all find themselves atop a different poll.

"It's fun to finally see the Pac-10 get the recognition that it deserves. The enormous postseason success the Pac 10 has had, you hear a lot about the SEC, it's nice to get a bunch of teams getting coverage in the media. It's going to be as competitive as always," said Paramore, "You look at the Pac 10 from my freshman year, there were a lot of big leaguers on that team, and I'm sure there are going to be a few to make the leap out of this year's crop. But as always it will be a dogfight, down to that last game."

"I believe we have a real good shot, we've been there before and we know what it takes. Day in day out, every game is important. It's a little too early to tight cast who is going to come out, but I really like our chances."

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