Jan. 22, 2008
DURHAM, N.C. - The UCLA baseball team has been ranked No. 1 in Baseball America's preseason top-25 poll, marking the Bruins' highest preseason ranking by any publication in program history. The Bruins opened the 1997 season ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 5 by Baseball America.
The preseason ranking by Baseball America marks the third time in which UCLA been ranked No. 1. During the 1979 season, UCLA first reached the No. 1 spot (Collegiate Baseball). In 1997, the last season in which the Bruins reached the College World Series, both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball tabbed UCLA as the No. 1 team the week of March 3.
Including UCLA, four Pac-10 teams are represented in Baseball America's 2008 preseason top-25 poll, including Arizona (2), Oregon State (7) and Arizona State (9). Rounding out the top five teams are Vanderbilt, Mississippi and North Carolina. UCLA will play 13 games against teams ranked among the preseason top-25.
Led by fourth-year head coach John Savage, UCLA 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).
In addition, the Bruins' lineup will feature junior Ryan Babineau (.272, 5 HR, 37 RBI), who has played in more career games (117) than any other Pac-10 catcher, and senior second baseman Alden Carrithers, who led the Bruins with a .352 average one year ago.
Sophomore southpaw Gavin Brooks (6-7, 4.47 ERA, 98 K) and junior left-hander Tim Murphy (5-4, 5.68 ERA, 96 K) will spearhead the Bruins' starting rotation this spring. Sophomore Charles Brewer returns to the staff after having pitched in just four games in 2007, due to illness and injury. Junior Jason Novak (3-0, 4.83, 38 K) and sophomore Garett Claypool (3-1, 3.54 ERA, 35 K) return to action on the mound, as UCLA's pitching staff welcomes the addition of six talented arms (five freshmen, one JC transfer).
In all, UCLA has brought in 12 newcomers, a recruiting class ranked No. 7 in the country by Baseball America and No. 5 nationally 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
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