UH No. 2 in WAC baseball
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Western Athletic Conference coaches picked Hawai'i to finish tied for second with Nevada in a preseason poll released yesterday.
With perennial champion Rice having moved on to Conference USA, Fresno State was a unanimous pick to win the seven-team WAC, drawing all six votes. Coaches could not vote for their own team. Nevada drew the only other first-place vote, along with two second-place votes and three third-place votes. The Rainbows had four seconds and two thirds.
San Jose State was picked to finish fourth, newcomer New Mexico State fifth, Louisiana Tech sixth and affiliate member Sacramento State seventh.
Baseball America also picked the Rainbows to finish second in the WAC, but unlike last year doesn't predict they will get one of the 64 NCAA tournament berths. Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso challenged his players to live up to the preseason hype last year, only to see his team finish 28-27 overall and 15-14 in the WAC.
"I've gone back and forth," Trapasso said. "Some years, I feel we really need to pump ourselves in preseason, to challenge ourselves or need the publicity. But as I'm getting older, I'm starting to think, 'Who cares?' The only poll that counts is the last one.
"(The second-place pick) tells me we've got a club that's capable of playing well, but we also have a team that's got a lot of work to do. There's no telling what you'll have until you turn on that scoreboard and see what happens."
The Rainbows will get their chance to see what they can do in Saturday's Alumni Game, starting at 1 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.
Depending on how the weather affects workouts and intrasquad games, either left-hander Mark Rodrigues or right-hander Justin Costi will start for the varsity. Either could go five innings, Trapasso said. Rodrigues would be making his UH debut after sitting out last season recovering from elbow surgery. The former Kaua'i High all-star transferred from Los Medanos JC. Costi was UH's No. 3 starter last season.
The goal for Saturday's game is to try to get as many players involved, Trapasso said. Shortstop Joe Spiers (hamstring) and JC transfer third baseman Justin Frash (shoulder) have been nursing injuries. As of yesterday, their status of playing was not known, but Trapasso said both should be ready for Wednesday's season opener against San Diego State.
Trapasso said the Alumni might have a shortage of pitchers, so the varsity will provide extra arms, if necessary.
The WAC also released its preseason all-conference team, with Hawai'i placing outfielder Matt Inouye, catcher Esteban Lopez and relief pitcher Darrell Fisherbaugh.
Fresno State outfielder Nick Moresi and pitcher Doug Fister were picked as the Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Baseball America's preseason WAC picks had Inouye, Spiers and right-handed pitcher Steven Wright. The publication picked FSU third baseman Beau Mills as the WAC's top player and Fister as the top pitcher.
Inouye was an all-WAC first-team pick last season.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.