As the Matadors baseball team approaches the conclusion of the 2009 season, it’s become clear it never quite made it over the hump.
The very first series of the season against Pepperdine was somewhat symbolic of what this season encompassed.’ CSUN dropped the first game of that series after a Pepperdine batter slammed a walk-off homerun. The Matadors won the second game, but dropped the third and the series following another Waves’ walk-off homer.
In what way does this resemble the entire season? It’s the fact the Matadors were never that bad of a team. They’ve been competitive all season long, but they could never finish out games.
In the next couple weeks, CSUN will close out the remainder of the season with a two-game series against USC and two conference three-game series: one against Pacific and another one vs. UC Davis.
Even if the Matadors win all six of their remaining conference games, they would still have a Big West record of 10-14. That, in all likelihood, will not be enough to make them qualify to the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb.
Leading the team in hits with 70 and a batting average of .366, senior first baseman Richard Cates has provided unequivocal leadership for a relatively young Matadors team.
Even with Cates performing the way that he did, there’s another senior player that cannot be overlooked.’ Catcher John Parham didn’t have gaudy statistics, but he made big plays.
Parham knew what he had to do and wouldn’t allow himself to be the reason the team lost a game. Time and time again he made clutch hits to tie the game up or take the lead. Being 10 games under .500 is nothing to be proud of, but there is something to be said for the fact that the Matadors were in a position to win 90 percent of those losses.
With a core of young players, highlighted by sophomore first baseman Dominic D’Anna and right fielder Ryan Pineda, the Matadors will have a solid group returning to the field next season.
The biggest task at hand for the offseason will be improving a pitching staff that has an ERA of 5.12 and an overall record of 18-29.
Some good news for CSUN is the likely return of all their starting pitchers. Ryan Juarez (4-5), Justen Gorski (1-3) and Paul Tremlin (6-1) will have a year under their belts next season.
What’s still up in the air is whether pitchers Brian Slover (2-3) and Billy Ott (1-4) will return to the pitch for the Matadors or get drafted by a Major League team.
Another young player to watch out for next season is freshman second baseman Tommy Simis, who has responded well to being put in the starting lineup this season.
The best the team can do at this point is salvage a tumultuous season with some quality wins to pave the way for 2010.
The Matadors dropped a close game to USC earlier this season, so handling business against the Trojans at home this weekend would be a big step in the right direction for this young team.
More importantly, the Matadors will be looking to improve their Big West record and finish off the season as strong as possible.
USC will be at Matador Field on Saturday and Sunday. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts.