GCU’s Mendoza earns Preseason Player of Year; HPU’s Murray claims top pitching honor

Derek Mendoza PHOENIX, AZGrand Canyon senior 3B Derek Mendoza (Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain) has been named the 2013 Pacific West Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while Hawai'i Pacific senior hurler Michael Murray (Castle Rock, WA/Castle Rock) claimed the Preseason Pitcher of the Year honor.

California Baptist, meanwhile, has been selected to repeat as the PacWest baseball champion. The Lancers, who were 38-12 overall last year and 31-9 in the PacWest, received 95 total points and six of a possible 10 first-place votes in the preseason poll.

Grand Canyon claimed three first-place votes and totaled 83 points to land second in the predicted finish, while Dixie State amassed 82 points and one first-place vote to place third. Azusa Pacific (65) is picked to take fourth and Hawai'i Pacific (59) is slated to finish fifth.

The conference unveiled the league's Preseason All-PacWest Baseball Team live on Thursday, Feb. 7, during its weekly Internet radio show on KQCK. The head coaches of the Pacific West Conference nominated and voted on the awards.

The preseason squad consists of 12 players, including one at each of the five infield positions, three outfielders, two pitchers, a reliever and a designated hitter.

Mendoza, who had a terrific junior season in earning Co-Newcomer of the Year honors and All-PacWest First Team accolades as an outfielder, claimed the Preseason Player of the Year award and a spot on the Preseason All-Conference Team while making the switch to the infield as he takes over third base.

He ended the 2012 campaign hitting .407 in 48 starts for the Antelopes. He amassed 70 base hits, 29 runs scored, 16 doubles, two home runs and 39 runs batted in. He also boasted a .535 slugging percentage and a .477 on-base rate.

One of three Antelopes named to the preseason team, Mendoza anchored one corner while first base honors went to junior Michael Pomeroy (Peoria, AZ/Centennial). Last season, Pomeroy started 50 games for the Antelopes, batting .422 with 79 base hits, 45 runs scored, 14 doubles, 28 RBI and 16 walks. He also converted 8 of 10 stolen base attempts, posted a .508 slugging rate, and produced a .486 on-base mark. He ended the season as a PacWest Tri-Player of the Year and an All-PacWest First Team selection.

GCU senior right-handed pitcher Mark Jarrett (Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain), an All-PacWest First Team member in 2012, was named to the preseason squad after posting a 1.91 earned run average out of the bullpen. He registered a 1-2 record in 19 appearances and 28.1 innings of work, striking out 24 while allowing a .191 batting average.

Jarrett and Mendoza were high school teammates at Red Mountain in Mesa, Ariz.

Murray was one of three HPU players earning preseason all-conference accolades. He was chosen the PacWest Preseason Pitcher of the Year after unleashing a 9-3 record and a 2.38 earned run average in 13 starts in 2012. He tossed five complete games and 94.2 innings of work, striking out 61 batters while giving up just 24 walks and a .229 batting average.

Murray's batterymate, senior catcher Jordan Inamasu (Kahului, HI/Maui), earned a preseason nod after claiming Second Team All-PacWest honors last year. In 31 games and 29 starts, he hit .223 with 14 runs scored and 10 walks.

Inamasu's defense gives the Sea Warriors a strong middle infield that includes junior SS Wade Tamaru (Aiea, HI/Mid Pacific Institute) who earned a place on the preseason squad. In 2012, Tamaru hit .361 in 46 starts, recording 53 base hits, 25 runs scored, four doubles, 23 RBI, a .404 on-base average and a .388 slugging rate.

Matt Marnati California Baptist landed three players on the 2013 PacWest Preseason All-Conference Team, including senior Matt Marnati (Yucaipa, CA/Yucaipa - right) who was All-PacWest First Team at a designated hitter last season and the PacWest Tri-Player of the Year.

Marnati was named to this year's preseason team twice after claiming a spot as a DH and as an outfielder. Last year he hit .366 in 50 starts, going 71 for 194 with 49 runs, 23 doubles, three homers, 51 runs batted in, 103 total bases, 17 walks, 11 stolen bases, a .531 slugging rate and a .412 on-base mark.

Marnati's teammate – sophomore OF Andy Crowley (Highland, CA/San Gorgonio) – also earned a spot on the preseason PacWest team. Last season Crowley was named the PacWest Freshman of the Year and also earned a place on the All-PacWest First Team.

In 48 games and 43 starts, Crowley hit .394 with 37 runs, 63 hits, nine doubles, two triples, two homers, 35 RBI, 13 walks, eight stolen bases, a .513 slugging mark and a .435 on-base rate.

Senior pitcher Jon Bengard (Moreno Valley, CA/Canyon Springs) rounds out the trio of Lancers earning preseason accolades.

The 2012 PacWest Pitcher of the Year and All-PacWest First Team selection finished his first campaign in the conference last season by posting a 10-2 record with a 3.18 earned run average. He started 12 games and made 13 appearances, tossed one complete game, threw 73.2 innings of work, and struck out 65 batters. He surrendered just nine extra-base hits in 265 at-bats.

Colton Yack Dixie State senior 2B Coltan Yack (South Jordan, UT/Bingham - left) was the lone Red Storm player to earn Preseason All-PacWest honors in 2013. Yack is a two-time All-PacWest infielder, claiming First Team honors in 2010 and Second Team accolades in 2012.

Last season Yack led the Red Storm to within a win of the Division II West Region Championship and a trip to the D-II College World Series by hitting .320 in 52 games and 51 starts. He had 55 base hits, 37 runs scored, eight doubles, 20 RBI, 26 walks, a .407 slugging rate and a .419 on-base mark. He struck out just 20 times and never hit into a double play in 172 at-bats.

Azusa Pacific junior OF Matt Kimmel (Redmond, WA/Redmond) received preseason honors without ever playing a game in the PacWest. The Cougars are in their first season in the conference and Kimmel is expected to lead Asuza Pacific during its inaugural journey through the PacWest after hitting .437 in 59 starts last season.

Kimmel's phenomenal totals included 104 base hits, 57 runs scored, 20 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 60 RBI, 17 walks, 11 stolen bases, a .473 on-base percentage, and a .660 slugging percentage.