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The CSUN baseball team was ranked sixth in the annual Big West Conference preseason coaches poll released Thursday. The team received one first-place vote and finished with 64 points out of 787.
The Matadors are looking to continue to ride the wave of last season’s superb start before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.
First-year manager Dave Serrano led the team to a 10-5 record as they started the season flying out the gate with a 7-0 start. Some of those wins came against nationally-ranked schools, such as the University of Central Florida, Grand Canyon University, Gonzaga University and Fordham University — a team that made the NCAA Regional Playoffs in 2019.
The team is returning what is sure to be one of the most experienced teams in the Big West Conference with a roster makeup of 26 upperclassmen, 21 letterwinners, 12 true freshmen, and 7 junior college transfers.
Along with Big West Preseason Player of the Year Denzel Clarke, the Matadors are also returning with two 2019 All-Big West Conference selections, right-handed pitcher Blake Schriever and catcher Sean Skelly.
Schriever, who is in his fifth year in the program, excelled in his role as the team’s closer, racking up four saves, eight strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA over 11.0 innings. Due to injury, Skelly was held to six starts and 12 appearances, but he still produced at the plate batting .296 with four RBIs and a home run.
2019 Big West champion UC Santa Barbara received 10 first-place votes to finish at the top of the conference. Long Beach State was picked second while UC Irvine was third, Cal Poly was selected fourth and Cal State Fullerton was fifth. After CSUN in sixth place, Hawai’i came in seventh followed by UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Riverside and CSU Bakersfield.