CSUN Preview: Lineup

Prior to this season, Northridge had constant roster turnover which contributed to the struggles the program has gone through since the Matadors won the Big West conference in 2002.

This season, most of the roster for Northridge returned after they brought in a large group of freshmen last year to try to bring some stability to the program instead of relying on quick fixes by bringing in mostly JC transfers.

Northridge is hitting for much more power this season after hitting only 25 HR's in 2008 and is 3rd in the Big West with 26 HR's, taking advantage of playing in one of the more favorable hitters parks in the conference.  The Matadors are average in the main hitting categories, hitting .290 (7th in the Big West), with a .386 OBP (6th) and .431 SLG % (6th).  Northridge is patient at the plate with 115 BB's (2nd in the conf at 3.9 BB's per game) and will take HBP's to get on base (51, 2nd in the conf).  Because the Matadors are seeing lots of pitches and several of them are swinging for HR's, they are also striking out quite a bit and averaging 7 K's per game to lead the Big West with 201 K's.  Northridge will bunt some (25, including eight in six conf games) and will steal bases (36-49, with 17 SB's by one player) so Fullerton will have to be aware defensively when the Matadors have runners on base.

Northridge traditionally has poor defense and this year is no exception.  The Matadors have made 57 errors and allowed 35 unearned runs.  Northridge has five infielders who have made 5+ errors, including two with 10+ errors, and the Matadors have been shuffling players around to find the right combination and it looks like they have finally settled on their infield starters.

Infield

C/DH – SR John Parham (RH - .277-3-18-0; 6-24, 1 HR, 7 RBI's in conf games) was one of Northridge's best players last season (2008 – .348-6-32-0) but he has gotten off to a slow start.  Parham usually bats 2nd and is 2nd in the conf with 10 HBP's.  He is 8-22 in his career against Fullerton, including 7-12 last season when he had a five hit game in the 17-15 Sunday slugfest.  When Parham is the DH, the C will be Soph Chris Hannick (RH - .278-3-14-0; 1-12 in conf games), who will also DH some and usually hits 6th when he is in the lineup.  Fullerton fans will remember Hannick for the 3 HR's and 9 RBI's that he had in that 17-15 slugfest.  Runners are 21-30 against Parham and 7-11 against Hannick and the catchers have allowed 28 WP's, the 2nd most in the conf.  Parham has also picked off 3 runners.

1B – Soph Dominic D'Anna (LH – .322-6-25-0; 8-25, 2 HR's, 3 RBI's in conf games) worked his way into the lineup late in the season last year (2008 – .262-1-13-1) and has been one of the better power hitters in the conference, ranking 2nd in total bases, 3rd in 2B's, 4th in HR's, 7th in H's and 10th in RBI's.  D'Anna will see quite a few pitches (10th in BB's) and has a big swing (7th with 24 K's) and usually hits 4th or 5th.

2B – Soph Justin DeMarco (RH - .212-2-10-1) was the SS last season (2008 – .252-1-24-2) but has shifted over to 2B after not playing much earlier this season, which has helped to solidify the middle infield.  DeMarco was a poor defensive SS but has been adequate at 2B and has made five errors.  He usually hits 8th or 9th and led the team last year with 15 SAC's.  DeMarco was 1-10 last season against Fullerton.

SS – Soph TS Reed (RH – .260-0-6-5) got off to a hot start last season (2008 – .311-0-27-16) but cooled off during conf games when he hit only .236.  Reed got off to a slow start this year and was taken out of the lineup for a while but has been hitting better lately (9-28 in conf games).  He was the leadoff hitter last year and has been moved back up in the lineup after hitting 9th in the first part of the season.  Reed has very little power with only 3 extra base hits (all 2B's) and is a threat to steal (led team in SB's in 2008).  He was 3-13 against Fullerton last season.

3B – There has been a rotation of players at 3B and none of them have played well defensively.  The latest player to be used at 3B is JR Jason Dabbs (RH – .267-1-9-1), who usually hits 6th or 7th.  Dabbs has hitting pretty well, going 8-24 in conf games with 1 HR and 6 RBI's, but has made 11 errors and been poor defensively.

Outfield

LF – SR Richard Cates (LH - .398-1-17-4) usually hits 3rd and has been one of the better hitters in the Big West at 3rd in BA, 1st in H's, 5th in 2B's, 7th in total bases and 10th in OBP.  Cates was 2nd team all conf last season (2008 – .350-2-24-2) and isn't much of a power hitter but usually makes solid contact and hits line drives around the field.  He is 10-29 against Fullerton in his career, including 7-13 last season when he had 4 H's and 4 RBI's in the 17-15 slugfest.

CF – JR C.J. Belanger (LH – .282-0-5-5) and Soph Jeff Pruitt (RH – .233-0-5-17) have been sharing time in CF.  Belanger has good speed and is the better hitter, going 6-20 in conf games.  Pruitt has outstanding speed and leads the conf in SB's (17-18) but has been struggling at the plate, although he has gone 5-9 in conf games.  Despite not being a power hitter, Pruitt is 3rd in the conf with 26K's in only 90 AB's.  Belanger went 1-10 against Fullerton last season (2008 – .206-0-11-2) and is 4-22 in his career.

RF – Soph Ryan Pineda (RH – .336-8-31-1) was the Big West FR of the Year in 2008 (.325-6-32-0) and has picked up where he left off, leading the conf in HR's and is 2nd in total bases, 4th in RBI's and 7th in SLG %.  Pineda usually hits 4th or 5th and is similar to D'Anna because he also walk quite a bit (15 - 6th in the conf) and K's quite a bit (24 – 7th in the conf).  He is 8-26 in conf games with 2 HR's and 9 RBI's.  He was the 3B but has made 12 errors and struggled defensively, which is why he has played RF the last nine games.  Pineda was hitless his first two games against Fullerton last year but had 4 H's in the 17-15 slugfest. 

Soph Todd Eskelin (RH - .410 – 2-8-1) also plays OF but has been getting playing time lately at DH and is 6-13 in conf games.  He has been hot and has been hitting for power with a .744 SLG %.