With their 10-2 victory over Albany the Matadors improved their record to 16-7 going into Big West play.
The Matadors will host the defending Big West champion, UC Irvine, in a three-game series at Matador Field starting on Thursday.
This will be the fourth time that the Matadors play a ranked team this season. The Matadors are currently 2-1 against ranked teams, with victories over San Diego, and East Carolina, and losing to UCLA in the third game of the season.
The Anteaters began the season ranked in the top ten, however, they are currently ranked No. 24.
The Matadors are currently tied for first place in the Big West with Pacific.
Meanwhile, the Anteaters will come into Matador Field with a 14-8 record. The Anteaters are currently in second place in the Big West.
After a month and a half of non-conference play, the Matadors head into conference play with confidence, something that they have lacked in the past.
“This is the first year we really established winning the way we should have in the years prior,” pitcher Billy Ott said. “I don’t want to say that we weren’t confident, but we gave teams in the Big West a little too much credit. This year we saw what we had to offer and we are going to win some games and there are no worries anymore. We’re excited.”
Brad Decater believes if the Matadors play solid baseball they can compete with any team.
“It doesn’t really matter who we play as long as we play good baseball it shouldn’t really matter,” Decater said. “If we play fundamentally sound we should win. I don’t think we really care about who we are playing.”
Last season the Matador squad finished with a sub-500 record, because of that, not much was expected from the Matadors. The preseason Big West poll predicted that the Matadors would finish in eighth place.
“This is my fourth year on the team and we’ve heard that stuff before,” Billy Ott said. “We sort of played into that.”
Rousey said that he did not discuss the preseason prediction with the team but said that “maybe being picked so low has provided some motivation.”
“I think this team understands everything they want, playoff appearances, postseason awards, draft, etc., I think they understand all the rewards of working hard have to go through the other dugout,” Rousey said. “You have to take it from the other team.”