With the 2010 season starting this Friday against Bethune-Cookman, from Daytona Beach, Fla., at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton for the MLB Urban Invitational, the Matadors baseball team is hoping that a second straight top-40 recruiting class by head coach Steve Rousey, and the playing experience the young Matador team got last season, will lead to an improvement on last season’s 24-32 record.
Last season’s young Matador squad suffered 12 one-run losses. This Northridge team features 13 combined freshmen and sophomores, and 18 combined juniors and seniors. The experience factor could be the difference this season in making key plays at the end of the game and winning those close games.
Among the returning players for the Matadors is junior infielder Ryan Pineda. Last season, Pineda had a team high 44 RBI’s, 10 home runs, and his .294 batting average was fourth highest on the team.
Junior outfielder Todd Eskelin is also returning to the Matadors. Last season he had a batting average of .333, a slugging percentage of .579, and a .433 on base percentage.
Junior Dominic D’ Anna posted up big numbers last season, despite an injury that caused him to miss some of the season. His batting average of .326 was third highest on the team last season. D’ Anna had 32 RBI’s, a .410 on base percentage, and a team high .587 slugging percentage.
This season’s Matador roster will include five transfers. Among them is Brad Decater, a transfer from Cuesta College, where he was a part of two League Championship teams.
In his sophomore season at Cuesta College, Decater finished with 60 RBI’s, seven home runs, and 14 doubles.
Nine freshmen on the CSUN roster posted big numbers in their high school careers. Shortstop Kyle Attl, from Rancho Bernardo High School, was CIF Utility Player of the Year, and was his team’s Most Valuable Player.
Freshman Marty Bowen, of El Camino High School, was named one of the top 10 players in San Diego by the San Diego Union Tribune. During his senior season at El Camino High, Bowen had a batting average of .402; hit eight homeruns, and 29 RBIs.
After the game against Bethune-Cookman the Matadors’ second game of the season on Saturday will be against the Southern University Jaguars, from Baton Rouge, La. The game against Southern University will air live on the MLB Network, giving the Matadors a rare opportunity to play in front of a national television audience. The Matadors will conclude the MLB Urban Invitational by visiting UCLA at Westwood Sunday afternoon.