clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pac-12 Baseball Team Preview: USC Hoping For Improvement in 2018

The Trojans need improvement in several areas to avoid another 10th-place finish.

Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

USC Trojans

  • Last Season: 21-34 (8-22)
  • Head Coach: Dan Hubbs
  • Best Returning Batter: Brandon Perez (.328)
  • Best Returning Fielder: Lars Nootbar (264 putouts)
  • Best Returning Pitcher: Brad Wegman (4.57 ERA)

The Skinny

Back in 2015, it seemed as if USC baseball was ready for a return to glory after returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time in nearly a decade. The two seasons that followed turned out to be disappointing for Trojan fans. In 2016, USC went .500 with a 28-28 record and then tied for last place in the Pac-12 in 2017 going 21-34. Now in his sixth season, Dan Hubbs needs to see some big improvements from his team in order to get out of the league’s basement.

The area that needs the most refinement is the pitching staff. USC turned in a league worst 5.56 team ERA in 2017 and allowed the third most hits with 542. Brad Wegman returns as the veteran of that group as one of just two senior pitchers. But with a 4.57 ERA, the team could stand for one of their young guns to surpass him. Sophomore Chris Clarke turned in a 4-2 record as starter. Clarke was also the only consistently starting pitcher on the team with a winning record. The Trojans also signed seven pitchers as part of their 2017 recruiting class that D1 Baseball ranked 17th nationally.

Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic
Dan Hubbs’ team will try to get back to their 2015 style of winning.
Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Offensively, USC lost a huge piece when second baseman Frankie Rios was drafted in the 17th round by the Boston Red Sox in the 2017 draft. Rios led the team in batting average, runs, and hits a year ago. As a team, USC struck out the second most times (298) in the Pac-12 in 2017 and had the sixth best batting average with .273. The Trojans do return Lars Nootbar who was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2017 and tied for most home runs on the team with 7. Junior infielder Brandon Perez will also play a big role at the plate after earning a Pac-12 honorable mention with a .328 batting average.

If the Trojans do have hopes of another winning season and possibly preserving Hubbs’ job, they have their work cut out for them. In addition to their Pac-12 schedule, USC also has a fierce non-conference schedule that includes a road series against Arkansas, home dates with TCU and Vanderbilt, and two games each against Long Beach State and CSU-Fullerton.

Number To Know: 12

The Trojans have won 12 NCAA championships throughout the program’s 129 year history. This season will mark 20 years since USC’s most recent title in 1998.

Games Against OSU

May 18th, 19th, & 20th in Los Angeles.

Stay tuned as we preview the rest of the league with just over a month until the season begins!