Baseball team starts fall practice
DYLAN BROCKMEYER | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA | @dbrock08
The University of San Diego baseball team officially began their regular practice schedule on Tues. Oct 13, 2015. This season marks the 17th consecutive season for Head Coach Rich Hill, who has helped the Toreros claim five WCC titles and appear in multiple NCAA and WCC championship series.
As practice begins, the boys in blue look to build up camaraderie and make an appearance in the college world series. A regularly rated top ten team according to Baseball America, Rivals and the West Coast Conference, our Toreros have nowhere to go but up.
Sophomore middle infielder Bryson Brigman is looking forward to building strong team relationships this season and anticipates a good matchup for their season opener against Vanderbilt in the Spring of 2016.
“I feel like our team is starting to come together as a unit and our team chemistry is improving,” Brigman said. “I am excited to be playing so many good teams this year including our season opener at Vanderbilt. Playing against such highly respected teams will test our abilities and set the tone for the rest of the season.”
Last season Brigman played 55 games with 54 starts, batted a .339 with 11 doubles, two triples, two homeruns and 28 RBI’s and was named the WCC freshman player of the year.
Sophomore catcher Riley Adams has similar hopes to build stronger team relationships now that practice is getting underway. Adams thinks the Toreros have the talent and skills to make it far and couldn’t be happier to be back on the field.
“I’m feeling really good about the team so far,” Adams said. “There’s a lot of talent in the WCC and we’ve always got to be at the top of our game in order to succeed. It’ll be a lot of fun to get back out there on the diamond again and I can’t wait to get the season started.”
In his freshman season, Adams played 49 games with 44 starts and batted a .269 with nine doubles, five homeruns, and 26 RBI’s. Adams knows the 2015-2016 season will be challenging, but coming from successful play last year he feels confident the Toreros can give Vanderbilt a run for their money.
“Going into the season last year, we had to go to Texas and to Mississippi State when they were ranked in the Top 10 and we were able to sweep Texas and take 2 out of 3 from Mississippi State,” Adams said.
“I know playing Vanderbilt is going to be difficult, but I know it’s something our team is ready to handle. This years schedule is no easy one, and we all know that. Going to Vanderbilt to begin the season is going to be a battle.”
So how about some of our big guns on the mound? Junior right handed pitcher CJ Burdick agrees with Adams and Brigman that the early season is dedicated to mostly individual work and improving the overall team relationship.
“I feel pretty good about the team so far,” Burdick said. “I think we have done a lot of things that have brought us closer and team chemistry is one of the most important things to have in my opinion. I also think we have a solid group of new guys that are going to have a big impact on our team this season. Everyone’s work ethic on the team is very high, everyone shares the same goal and knows it’s gonna take a lot of hard work to get there.”
In his sophomore season, Burdick made 20 appearances, threw a 4.24 ERA with 55 strikeouts, 14 walks, 28 runs and 59 hits.
He recorded possibly his best game against Pepperdine in the 2015 WCC tournament when he came in as a relief pitcher allowing no runs and no hits, striking out a career high of 10 in 5.1 innings.
Burdick is also eagerly anticipating the season opener against Vanderbilt, but also can’t wait for the season to get underway to have some of the best conference play in the nation.
“I think this year schedule is going to be a lot of fun,” Burdick said. “We are going up against very good teams, starting off the season playing against Vanderbilt on the road is a huge for us as a program. I think this schedule is going to be a very difficult one with very good baseball played, but I think it will also be a very exciting one as well.”
With practice just beginning, despite the highly talented and competitive Division 1 level play, the Toreros never stop trying to perfect their game. Brigman hopes to improve his range to make himself the best possible shortstop.
“I am personally trying to improve my range and arm strength that will allow me to play to the best of my ability at shortstop,” Brigman said.
Adams, as a catcher and important team leader on the field, is looking to build those strong relationships that make a team a unit.
“For team improvements, the biggest thing I think we need to improve before the season is our camaraderie,” Adams said. “Building team chemistry takes time as it did last year, and I know that our camaraderie will only grow as we move throughout the fall and winter.”
Burdick has been working through the fall to perfect his mechanics in his splitter and curveball. His goal is to be able to work the count in his favor at all times.
“Personally I would like to work on mastering my splitter and curveball, which I have been working on throughout the fall,” Burdick said. “Adding those pitches and being able to throw them in any count where I want it would be a huge asset for me and could increase my effectiveness as a pitcher.”
With their strong work ethic and a dedicated staff, the Torero baseball team has a real chance of a winning record and a chance at another post-season WCC tournament appearance.