Sun Devil Baseball Opens 2007 This Weekend Against Southern Utah

Jan. 30, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Leading Off:

The 2007 ArizonaState baseball season gets underway this weekend when the Sun Devils host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds for a three-game series at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. ArizonaState finished last season 37-21 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 30th time in school history. 2007 marks the 49th year of Varsity baseball at ASU, and the 23rd season to be played at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.


Opening Night:

Arizona State is 26-4 in season openers dating back to 1977. They have lost their last two, falling 7-3 to Long BeachState in 2005 and 13-2 to Cal State Northridge last season.


Let The Games Begin:

For only the third time in the Pat Murphy era (1995-P), the Sun Devils did not play a regular season game in the month of January. They won't play one again for the foreseeable future, as new NCAA legislation takes effect in 2008 that makes a uniform start date for all NCAA baseball programs. The season can begin the final weekend in February beginning in 2008.


The Sun Devils vs. The Thunderbirds:

The Devils hold a 21-0 advantage in the all-time series. ASU and SUU last met on March 7, 2003 in Tempe during the Bob Schaefer Classic. ASU won 19-0.


Preseason Rankings:

For a record 21st straight season, ArizonaState is ranked in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25. The Devils check in at #20 in that poll, while Collegiate Baseball has tabbed them #14 in their poll. has ASU at #8 and the NCBWA poll has the Devils at #14, as does the USA Today Coaches poll.


Tournament Time:

After this weekend, the Sun Devils will take part in tournaments the next two weeks. Next weekend they head to Houston for the Houston College Classic at MinuteMaidPark. ASU will face Texas A&M, #8 Vanderbilt and Houston. The following week, ArizonaState will host Missouri in Tempe on Thursday before heading to the WestValley for the 5th Annual Coca-Cola Classic at Surprise Stadium. ASU will play Missouri, OregonState and Gonzaga.


2006 Wrap-Up:

A young team and a tough schedule proved to be a challenge for the 2006 Sun Devils, but they met it head on, advancing to their seventh straight NCAA Tournament. ASU finished the season 37-21, falling in the Houston Regional to Baylor. ArizonaState finished second in the Pac-10 at 14-10.


Preseason Honors:

Junior second baseman Eric Sogard earned three Preseason All-American mentions, including two First Team honors. Both the NCBWA and had Sogard as a First Team Preseason All-American, while Collegiate Baseball listed him as a Third Team Preseason All-American.


Welcome Back:

ASU welcomes back 15 members of last season's team, including six players who started in 2006. Leading the way is Eric Sogard, who will play second base. Sogard hit .353 last season and tied for the team lead with nine home runs. Joining Sogard in the infield is first baseman Brett Wallace, who had an outstanding debut season in Tempe. Wallace led the team with his .371 average, adding seven homers and 32 RBI. Andrew Romine returns at short, after playing 22 games last year after offseason surgery. Matt Hall will man the hot corner after playing all around the infield in 31 games a year ago. Behind the plate will be Preston Paramore, who started 52 games as the backstop in 2006, hitting .318 in the process. Last season's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Ike Davis will play outfield, DH and pitcher and hopes to repeat the success of his first season that saw him set a school freshman record with 65 RBI. CJ Retherford will be a jack-of-all-trades again this season after playing five positions in 2006. Mike Jones is expected to start in center after finishing second on the Sun Devil football team in receptions. He will be joined in the outfield by Ryan Sontag and Rocky Laguna. The Sun Devil pitching staff has gotten a facelift from last season, but returning hurlers Josh Satow, Jeff Urlaub and Matt Trink will bring some big game game experience back.


Brand New Faces:

22 new faces grace the 2007 Sun Devil baseball roster, including five transfers from Division I programs. LHP Joey Parigi comes to ASU from Texas, RHP Derik Olvey joins the program after having played at both Notre Dame and LSU, OF Jarred Bogany was Olvey's teammate last season at LSU, RHP Ted Aust was at Villanova last season and OF/LHP Matt Spencer played in the National Championship series against OregonState with North Carolina. Olvey is scheduled to redshirt this year as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Seven players have transferred to ASU from the Junior College ranks, including LHP Brian Flores, RHP Scott Mueller, LHP Brett Davis, RHP Dustin Brader, RHP Tommy Rafferty, C Kiel Roling and OF Tim Smith. Rafferty will redshirt in 2007 due to the transfer rule. Ten freshmen will begin their collegiate careers in the Maroon and Gold in 2007. Leading the way is RHP/OF Mike Leake, who was a seventh round pick of the Oakland A's in the 2006 MLB draft and is expected to close for the Devils. Joining Leake are LHP Adam Bailey, RHP Jason Mitchell, LHP Joe Hatasaki, UTL Raoul Torrez, UTL Tyler Hoechlin, UTL Joe Van Meter, RHP/OF Jason Jarvis, OF Mike Petello and OF Kyle Williams. Van Meter and Petello will redshirt this season.


Another Tough Schedule

Like it is every year, the Sun Devils schedule is among the toughest in the nation. Boyd's World ranks ASU's 2007 slate as the 25th toughest in the nation, with games against perennial powers Long BeachState, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Auburn and Houston. They will become the first ever Pac-10 team to participate in the Houston College Classic, played at the Houston Astros' MinuteMaidPark.


That's The Pick:

In a poll of all Pac-10 baseball coaches, ArizonaState was picked to win the Pac-10 conference. This marks the first time that the Sun Devils have ever been picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches vote. OregonState was picked second and Stanford was third.


Fabulous Freshman:

RHP/OF Mike Leake was rated the 39th best freshman in the country by Baseball America as part of their Fabulous 50 Freshmen list. Leake, who is expected to play in the outfield as well as be the closer this year, was a seventh round draft pick of the Oakland A's in last years draft.


Talented Transfers:

The Sun Devils had two transfers make the top ten of Baseball America's Top 25 Transfers list. LHP Brian Flores, who comes to ASU from New MexicoJunior College, checked in at #7, while OF Tim Smith, who played the last two years at MidlandCollege in Texas, was #10.


Arms Race:

The Sun Devil pitching staff looks a little different from what it was at the end of the 2006 season. The 2007 staff features 13 new arms, with only three returners from last year (Urlaub, Satow, Trink). Leading the charge of newcomers is LHP Brian Flores, who is expected to take over the Friday night starter role. Last season, ASU used 11 different starting pitchers, the most ever in the Pat Murphy era.


Feeling The Draft:

There are 18 members of the 2007 Sun Devils who have had their name called during the annual Major League Baseball draft, including four players who have had their name called twice.

          Player  Round  Team  Year

          Mike Leake     7th     Athletics        2006

          Matt Hall       8th     Angels 2005

          Derik Olvey    13th    Dodgers         2003

          Jarred Bogany 15th    Pirates 2005

          Tim Smith      17th    Brewers         2005*

          Ike Davis       19th    Devil Rays      2005

          Tim Smith      21st    Mets   2004*

          Brian Flores    21st    White Sox      2004*

          Petey Paramore        22nd   Mets   2005

          Matt Spencer 24th    Red Sox         2004

          Jason Jarvis   25th    Cardinals       2006

          Jeff Urlaub     26th    Devil Rays      2005

          Kiel Roling      31st    D-Backs        2006

          Andrew Romine         36th    Phillies 2004

          Matt Trink      36th    Blue Jays       2003*

          Scott Mueller  37th    D-Backs        2005*

          Brian Flores    37th    White Sox      2005*

          Matt Trink      39th    Blue Jays       2004*

          Scott Mueller  41st    Reds   2004*

          Brett Wallace 42nd   Blue Jays       2005

          Tommy Rafferty        42nd   Astros 2004

          Kyle Williams   47th    White Sox      2006

          *-Denotes players drafted twice


You Look Mahvelous!:

The Sun Devils got a surprise during practice last week, as actor/comedian Billy Crystal took a break from his performances at Gammage to practice with the Devils. Crystal donned the Maroon and Gold, complete with a jersey with his name and #10 on the back, and took part in drills and batting practice. After practice, he invited the coaching staff to his show, '700 Sundays', at Gammage.


Road To ASU Baseball:

Freshman UTL Tyler Hoechlin is adjusting to life as a college student and baseball player, but  he is well versed in the glitz and glamour of the big screen. Hoechlin starred with Tom Hanks in the 2002 motion picture 'Road To Perdition'. Hoechlin played Michael Sullivan, Jr., the son of Hanks' character. Hoechlin also appears in the CW's '7th Heaven', playing the character of Martin Brewer. Hoechlin will balance school, baseball and the show this semester, filming episodes during off days.


Oh Captain, My Captain:

Head coach Pat Murphy has named junior OF Rocky Laguna the team captain. This is the first time in the 13 years that Murphy has been here that he has named a team captain.


Back For More:

Former ASU baseball standouts Mikel Moreno and Michael Collins are both back with the program for the 2007 season as managers. Moreno was a four-year starter for the Devils from 1995 to 1998, when he earned All-American accolades and helped lead ASU to the National Championship game. Collins played from 1996 to 1998 before leaving ASU to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Getting To Know: Southern Utah:

Southern Utah finished the 2006 season 26-28, fifth in the Mid-Continent Conference. They return three starters and 16 letterwinners from last years team under Coach David Eldridge, who is in his third season with the Thunderbirds.


Challenge At Chase:

The Second Annual Challenge at Chase will be played on Wednesday March 28th, when the Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats meet in a non-conference battle at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.


Up Next:

Arizona State will travel to Houston, Texas to take part in the Houston College Classic at MinuteMaidPark, home of the Houston Astros. The Sun Devils will become the first ever Pac-10 team to play in the prestigious tournament when they face Texas A&M, #8 Vanderbilt and Houston. Baylor and Rice are also participating but will not face ASU.


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