It's the first time in the program's history it's started out the season ranked #1. In 1997, the Bruins started the season ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 5 by Baseball America.
UCLA has reached the #1 ranking two other times: First, during the 1979 season, and then in 1997, the last season in which the Bruins reached the College World Series.
UCLA coach John Savage, in his fourth season at the helm of Bruin baseball, has turned around what many always felt should be an elite program.
Savage, of course, was hired by UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, a former UCLA second-baseman hismelf.
This year Savage returns seven starting position players and two starting pitchers from a 2007 squad that reached the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time since 2000.
The Bruins return four of their five All-Pac-10 selections from one year ago, including juniors Brandon Crawford (.335, 7 HR, 55 RBI), Cody Decker (.307, 14 HR, 57 RBI) and Jermaine Curtis (.329, 4 HR, 33 RBI), and sophomore Gabe Cohen (.345, 10 HR, 36 RBI).
Other standouts: junior catcher Ryan Babineau (.272, 5 HR, 37 RBI), senior second baseman Alden Carrithers (team leading .352 in 2007); returning starting pitchers sophomore Gavin Brooks (6-7, 4.47 ERA, 98 K) and junior left-hander Tim Murphy (5-4, 5.68 ERA, 96 K); sophomore pticher Charles Brewer, who returns from injury a year ago; junior pticher Jason Novak (3-0, 4.83, 38 K); and sophomore pitcher Garett Claypool (3-1, 3.54 ERA, 35 K). UCLA also brings in 12 new players, from a recruiting class ranked #5 in the country by Collegiate Baseball.
In 2007, the Bruins posted a 33-28 record, culminating with their first appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000. UCLA totaled a 14-10 mark in the Pac-10, finishing in third place, before advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.
BASEBALL AMERICA 2008 PRESEASON TOP-25 POLL
|13||Long Beach State||39-20|