Through the first 38 games of the season,the Aggies have proven they’re far from being the last place team preseason polls picked them out to be.
UC Davis has already surpassed its24winsfrom2007and currently sits third in the Big West Conference with a6-3league mark.Now it will have to prove its placeamongthe conference’s elite.
Over the next eight games,the Aggies will take on four consecutive rankedopponentsin No.15Cal State Fullerton,No.5Stanford,No.25Long Beach State and No.7California.
By the time the stretch ends on Apr.30,UC Davis should have a clearer idea of whether or not it’ll fit into the NCAA playoff picture.
“We certainly have a tough road ahead ofus the rest of the way with thethreebigdogs in the conference,aCal team that has played really well andthen Stanford,” head coach Rex Peters said. “If we’re going to make a playoff run,we’ve got to prove it against those kinds of teams.We’re going to find out how good we are in the next month or so.“
The Aggies have only played two ranked teams this season– Stanford and Fresno State,which has since dropped out of the pollsfromtheir No.18rankingto start the season.UC Davis went a combined3-2against the two teams.
“We’re just going toplay like we’ve been playing it,” said junior catcher Jake Jefferies of the upcoming stretch.“We’re going to try to have some good practices this week and take care of those guys[CalStateFullerton] this weekend.“
The biggest weapon the Aggies carry into the stretch is their offense.Coming into this past weekendseries with Cal Poly,UC Davis was13th in the nationwith413total hits and36th in the nation in runs per game with nearly eight a contest.
“They’re as good as any team we’ve faced this year,” Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said. “You look at their numbers offensively and to have those in this ballpark with the wind blowing in is amazing.“
This past weekend,Cal Poly was able to cool off theAggie bats,limiting them to an average of three runs per gameto take the three-game set,2-1.
“I wouldn’t call it much of a slump,” said Jefferies,who leads the Big West in hitting with66hits and47RBI.“I just think that we’re not swinging at the right pitches.We’ll use this week to better prepare ourselves to swing at better pitches and put guys into scoring position.“
To Peters,the recent dependence on miracle comebackshas been the culprit of his team’s stagnant bats.
“We’ve been playing from behind a lot these past two weeks,” Peters said.“It’s a tough way to play when you’re chasing runs like that.It kind of takes you outofyour offense a little bit when you start playingfor bigger innings.“
Hitting hasn’t been the only concern for the Aggies,as several players are also nursing injuries.Senior first baseman Evan Hudson has been bothered by an abdominal strain and will likely be limited to designated hitter duty this week while senior outfielder Kevin James is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.
UC Daviswill look to get back on the right foot as a team Fridayat7p.m.when it travels toGoodwin Baseball Fieldfora three-game setwith Cal State Fullerton.
RAY LIN can be reached email@example.com.XXX