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High Expectations For Bruin Baseball

UCLA baseball teams opens up its season this Friday. As mentioned here there are high expectations for this year's team. Here is the preview from official site:

After reaching the NCAA Malibu Regional last June, the 2007 UCLA baseball team has welcomed 13 newcomers and looks to build upon its recent success. Led by third-year head coach John Savage, the Bruins will face one of the country's most challenging schedules, highlighted by non-conference road trips to Miami and Mississippi.

Less than one year after flying under the radar to finish third in the Pac-10 Conference, the Bruins have caught the attention of many in the college baseball world. After having inked the fifth-ranked recruiting class in 2005 (as rated by Baseball America), the UCLA coaching staff landed the No. 13 class in 2006. A strong blend of experienced veterans and talented newcomers will prove vital to the Bruins' success this spring.

The 2006 squad helped lay the foundation and pave the way for consistent success. The Bruins were the only Pac-10 team to win each of its home series against Pac-10 opponents - series victories over Washington State, No. 10 Arizona State, USC and NCAA Super Regional finalist Stanford. UCLA finished its regular-season with an 8-11 record versus teams ranked in Baseball America's final top-25 poll. Only Oregon State played more games against such top-25 ranked ballclubs.

"We are very optimistic about our season," Savage said. "I think that we have questions to be answered on the mound. The major question being, how do you replace last year's aces - Dave Huff and Hector Ambriz? If we can do that, then I think that we look to have a successful season."
To find out how Coach Savage is planning to replace Huff and Ambriz read the rest of the preview from official site or re-read Rye's post from three weeks ago. Here is Rye on the young guns Coach Savage may be leaning on to replace last year's aces:
The freshman class will also be under extreme pressure this year, the brunt of which will fall on starting pitchers Charles Brewer and Gavin Brooks. Brewer, a 6'4'' RHP from Chaparral HS in Scottsdale, AZ, is regarded as one of the best freshmen pitchers in the country and deservedly so. The freshman comes to UCLA after leaving high school with Arizona Player of the year award, a 19-0 record and three state titles. Brewer posses a 91-93 MPH fastball and three good off speed pitches, which is the same combination of pitches that Gavin Brooks brings to the table. Brooks, a 6'3'' LHP comes to the Bruins after being named an AFLAC All-American and is expected to join Brewer in the UCLA starting rotation this season. The other freshman pitchers are 6'5'' RHP J.D. Haver and LHP Matt Drummond. Haver, while extremely raw is extremely talented as he has a mid 90's fastball and devastating curve and slider. His location is lacking however, but expect this talent to be polished by Savage. Drummond was selected in the 2006 MLB Draft by the Orioles, but decided to attend UCLA, expressing his desire to learn from Savage. 1B/3B Casey Haerther also joins the Bruins after batting .554 at Chaminade HS in Chatsworth, CA. Haerther is expected to compete for a starting spot and provide major power. The final three freshmen the Bruins bring in this year are all outfielders and will battle each other for the one remaining starting outfield position. Raul Duran, a speedy White Sox draftee, Gabe Cohen, ranked the #76 high school senior last year and Jeff Rapoport, the #25 high school senior are all more than capable and give the outfield plenty of depth.
So there is lot to look forward to for UCLA baseball this upcoming season. Bruins open the season ranked No. 13 by Baseball America and No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.

As mentioned above the team opens its season this Friday. They are starting with a three-game series at home versus Winthrop. Game time is 6 p.m. If you are planning to go out to Jackie Robinson stadium keep us in the loop. Take pictures and share your takes here on BN.