Football season is over and basketball is less than a month away from post-season play. Now it is time to focus on America’s pastime: baseball. The 2012 USC baseball season is around the corner. The Trojans are preparing to take the field at Dedeaux on Feb. 17 and have their eyes fixed on Omaha, Neb. — a goal most believe to be nearly impossible for the USC baseball program.
Led by coach Frank Cruz, the Trojans are primed to make a run for the Pac-12 title and, most importantly, improve upon last season’s lackluster record.
In the offseason, USC has made significant moves to regain the respect it deserves. Not only did USC’s athletic director Pat Haden hire Cruz full-time in May 2011 after Cruz served as interim head coach for nearly two seasons, but the Trojans have also signed an impressive 2012 class.
USC boasts a remarkable class of 2012 enrollees. In fact, it is the highest rated signing class for the Trojans in the past decade. The 19-man class consists of seven pitchers and 12 position players. Of the signees, several were drafted in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft.
The 2012 class is a great addition to the already outstanding USC roster. Though losing key players, like infielder Ricky Oropesa (drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2011), the 2012 USC roster will have the perfect mixture of veteran talent and young blood.
Of the enrollees, USC signed left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley, outfielder and first baseman Ryan Garvey, right-handed pitcher Wyatt Strahan, third baseman Trent Boras and infielder Dante Flores. The Trojans also signed two-time draftee and senior transfer right-handed pitcher Martin Viramontes on the 2012 enrollee roster.
The 2012 class joins returning starter, right-handed pitcher Andrew Triggs, who was 5-4 in 2011 with a 3.67 ERA. Triggs allowed opponents 94 hits last season. Outfielder Garrett Houts is back for the 2012 season. Houts hit .324 during Pac-10 Conference play in 2011. Both Triggs and Houts provide leadership qualities, something that is vital to lead the Trojans to a conference title and, ultimately, the College World Series in Omaha.
USC has not won a national championship in more than a decade — the last win occurred in 1998 under coach Mike Gillespie. It might seem hard to believe, but USC has all the pieces it needs to vie for a championship. Young talent, veteran leadership and solid coaching are all intact for the Trojans.
With that said, it is not far-fetched to fantasize about the rise of the USC baseball program. Though other advertisements for athletic teams contain the obligatory message about the revival of a program, the USC baseball team without a doubt deserves just as much respect and publicity as the other athletic teams on campus.
The resurgence of USC baseball is imminent and this prophecy could very well come true in 2012. Break out the sunscreen and baseball caps, ladies and gentlemen, Baseball season is here.
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