UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara baseball team, which returns virtually its entire roster from 2020, is ranked 8th nationally in Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 50 NCAA Division 1 Preseason Poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum, the publication announced Monday. No. 8 is the highest preseason ranking in school history.
"We are looking forward to the season," said head coach Andrew Checketts, who is entering his 10th season at UCSB. "Obviously the game isn't played on paper, but we like our group and are anxious to get on the field and test ourselves against outside competition"
Because the NCAA allowed for all players on 2020 rosters to return for the 2021 season because of the COVID-19 cancellation, the Gauchos bring back every player from a team that was 13-2 and coming off of a three-game road sweep of nationally-ranked Oregon State when the plug was pulled on the season. In addition, UCSB posted a win over No. 1 UCLA and was a perfect 5-0 against the Pac 12.
The 2020 Gauchos were led by a stellar pitching staff that sported a 1.84 team ERA, tied with Vanderbilt tops in the category on a national level. Zach Torra (3-0, 0.36 ERA, 39 strikeouts in 25.1 innings), Michael McGreevey (2-0, 0.99 ERA, 26 strikeouts in 27.1 innings), Rodney Boone (2-1, 2.53 ERA, 31 strikeouts in 21.1 innings) and Conner Roberts (4-0, 2.04 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 17.2 innings) lead the staff.
Offensively, UCSB's top returnee is Marcos Castanon who slashed .288/.354/.525 in 2020. As a tream Santa Barbara outscored its opponents 96-33.
The Gauchos are the defending Big West Conference champion, having won the title in 2019. In the last two seasons, the program has posted a combined record of 58-13.
Florida was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, followed by Vanderbilt, UCLA, Texas Tech, Mississippi, Miami (Fla.), LSU and then UCSB. The other schools from the west and Big West represented in the poll were Arizona (10th), Arizona State (15th), Pepperdine (33rd), UC Irvine (42nd), Long Beach State (44th), Oregon State (49th) and Stanford (50th). Among the other teams receiving votes were Big West members Cal State Fullerton, UC San Diego, Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly.
Article courtesy of UCSB Athletics.