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Stanford ready to step up in
By Taylor Gelbrich @According2Gelby
time is now for Stanford and juniors Kenny Diekroeger (right),
Stephen Piscotty and Mark Appel.
After finishing in the middle of the pack in the
Pac-10 for the past two years, the No. 2 recruiting class in the
country three years ago enters this season with a top-five
“Back when I was a freshman, I couldn’t wait for
this season to start, and I feel the exact same way [now],”
Diekroeger said in January.
The Cardinal has not won the College World Series
since winning back-to-back titles in 1987 and 1988. This season,
Stanford is stacked and primed not only for competing for a
Pac-12 title, but also a national title.
“I think everybody on this team knows that this
year is going to be special and not just go for a Pac-12
championship, but also get to Omaha and hopefully win it,”
Diekroeger said. “We have so much talent, but also we get along
really well as a team, and it’s just really fun to show up to
the field every day and play with all the guys.”
Stanford enters the season with preseason
All-Americans, back-to-back Pac-10 freshmen of the year, all
Pac-10 team members and potential first-round picks in this
year’s Major League Draft.
offense, the Cardinal returns Piscotty (left), Diekroeger,
Pac-10 freshman of the year Brian Ragira, Tyler Gaffney, Jake
Stewart and Austin Wilson from last year’s team that reached the
On the mound, it returns
Appel, who has the
chance to become the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft.
“I don’t know how special we are going to be
because we still have to play, but I think we have a lot of
junior players that have played a lot, and we have one really
special pitcher in Mark Appel,” Cardinal coach Mark Marquess
who led Stanford with a .364 average and added three homers and
40 RBI, is an All-Pac-10 first-teamer, preseason All-American
and potential first-rounder as a third baseman. He also is
expected to close some games this spring.
a shortstop who hit .293 with two homers and 31 RBI, also is a
potential first-round pick and preseason All-American. Six
players who earned conference honors last year for Stanford
return for this season, including first baseman Ragira
“We are very fortunate that our position players
are very athletic,” Marquess said. “Offensively that being our
strength, there is a lot we can do. I think potentially we can
be very good offensively and that athletic ability gives me
flexibility to score more runs.”
is highlighted on the mound by its ace, Appel (right), who was a
deceptive 6-7, 3.02 and sits in the low–to-mid 90s and comes
back with a good slider and a change-up.
The Cardinal also
welcomes back lefty ace Brett Mooneyham from a finger injury
that kept him out all of last season and Dean McArdle, who led
the Cardinal with seven wins last year.
It wasn’t too long ago
when the young freshman Appel was behind Mooneyham, but Appel
has come a long way.
“It is leaps and bounds,” Marquess said. “He was
kind of thrown into the fire. He was penciled in to be our No. 2
starter after Mooneyham, and when Mooneyham got hurt, Mark
became the Friday starter.
“He is a much different pitcher now, he has
really matured. To me he is a premier Friday starter.”
Stanford fans have a
lot to be excited about and the players can feel it too, but
they are going to take it one day at a time.
“If everybody works as hard as they can on their
own game, then we are going to be better as a team, and when we
are firing on all cylinders, we are going to be a really good
team,” Diekroeger said.
Still, there are some questions for this Stanford
team going into the season.
The Cardinal needs to replace its starting
catcher, closer and several arms out of the bullpen. Look for
Piscotty to bolster the closer role when needed. Wayne Taylor, a
highly touted freshman out of Houston, will compete for the
starting catching job. Another freshman also could make a name
“Alex Blandino is a very good hitter and can play
any of the three infield positions,” Marquess said. “He was
impressive in the fall with his bat and his glove. “He will push
quite a bit to get some playing time. He probably stood out the
most out of the freshman because of his bat.”
Stanford is a talented team that sports a lineup
with a .300 average and two premier starters, but it’s not only
the numbers and talent that separate it from the rest of the
Players credit their coach more than anything.
(right) has been at the helm for the past 36 years. He has won
two national titles, three NCAA Coach of the Year awards, nine
Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards and is the seventh-winningest
coach of all time, taking 27 teams to the NCAA Tournament.
“Coach Marquess has had quite an impact on
Stanford baseball and brings his own personality to the team,
and we adopt that as our own,” Appel said. “Hustling on and off
the field, being prepared every pitch, not taking a single
second off during the game.
“The energy he brings is amazing, and he really
gets us energized to go. If it’s 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning
and we’re kind of tired and he is up and at it, he expects the
same out of us.”
Marquess leads a squad of
grinders and gamers. Though talented, the Cardinal can execute
and do the small things. Stanford has some aspects of “West
Coast” baseball, but in the end, it is just another way to win
games. This specific team is very athletic and allows Marquess a
variety of ways to play the game.
“We are all about hustle; we run every ball we
hit out whether it’s a pop up or a ball in the gap,” Piscotty
said. “We don’t necessarily play a cool style of baseball, but
we are a team that when people come out to watch us, we want
them to recognize how hard we hustle whether things are going
good or bad.”
Most anticipate more good than bad. And most
envision a team that is bound for Omaha.
“It would be a lot of fun and it would mean a lot
to the program and a lot to the school. I think the guys on the
team deserve it because we have work hard enough to get there,
but our focus can’t be on going to Omaha,” said Appel “We've got
to worry about today; we've got to worry about tomorrow. I know
a lot of us are juniors and the draft is coming around the
corner but we have a full season to take care of before that.”
(photos by Zach Sanderson of