12. CHICO STATE WILDCATS (40-19)
Final 2012 Ranking: 15
Chico State earned its fifth CCAA regular season title and won the West Regional to reach the Cary and the DII CWS, but fell short of earning the third national crown in the program history after nearly getting no-hit in the opening round and falling to Minnesota State for an early exit. Expectations were high last year and will be once again in 2013. The Wildcats lost only one contributing pitcher from last year’s club and return a solid, experienced starting lineup which knows how to play sound defense and manufacture runs – the cornerstone of every championship team.
Head Coach Dave Taylor has a deep pitching staff which will be Chico’s ticket to reaching the College World Series for the ninth time in the last 17 years. Seniors Kagen Hopkins and Sean Martin are the most dominant starting pitchers back on campus and will take to the mound most Saturdays. Hopkins led the team with eight wins and was the staff workhorse, tallying nearly 100 innings last season. Martin excelled in both relief and starting roles, accumulating a 6-3 record in 27 appearances with a 2.87 ERA. Both pitchers will be looking to get the game into the hands of closer Mike Botelho. Last season the former Kansas City Royal draft pick had a 1.50 ERA with 13 saves.
Once again the Wildcats won’t be looking to outslug opposition, only to do the little things on offense which move baserunners and create runs. OF Blake Gibbs has the most potent bat back in the lineup. Last season he hit .317 and led the team with seven homeruns and .523 slugging percentage. He also paced the club with his 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Rejoining him on the roster will be DH Myles Dempsey who hit .333 as well as C Ben Manlove and 2B Pierson Jeremiah who had dependable, but unexceptional bats. There are a pair of newcomers to the roster which could factor big into the Wildcats success. SS Cody Slader is new to the team after transferring from San Diego State and OF Westley Wright was a standout performer at Oxnard JC where he hit .366