University of Portland baseball received some news before the season is about to tip off as junior outfielder Turner Gill and sophomore left-hander pitcher Travis Radke were both selected to the Preseason All-West Coast Conference Baseball Team, while the Pilots were picked to finish seventh in a vote of the league’s nine head coaches. This is not the first time the Pilots have been over-looked in preseason rankings as they were picked last in the WCC last season, largely due to their youth. The Pilots surprised the WCC going 27-25 overall in 2012 and went an even 12-12 in the WCC. The San Diego Toreros were voted to win the 2013 WCC Championship.
Gill and Radke headline a group of 24 returning letterwinners from a team that posted Portland’s second winning record in the past three seasons, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1992.
“I’m very proud of Turner and Travis,” Head Coach Chris Sperry said. “They are definitely what drives and rallies this team defensively and offensively, it’s great this team has them to lean on. I’m glad their getting the respect in the conference that they deserve.”
Gill, a native of Madras, Ore., is coming off his second straight selection to the All-WCC First Team. He was Portland’s top hitter last season, finishing with a .314 overall batting average and a .354 mark during league play. The left-handed hitting Gill also posted team highs of five home runs, 30 RBI’s, 13 doubles, 24 runs, got on base 88 times, and delivered a .476 slugging percentage and a .394 on-base percentage. Gill will again be relied on heavily in the lineup for offense as well as his tremendous athletic ability in the outfield on defense.
“It’s pretty cool, but I’m not really big on preseason rankings,” Gill said. “It’s all about the team and what we as a team can do together. Me and Travis will do what we can to make us better, but a preseason list or ranking won’t win us any games.”
Radke, a native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was named the WCC’s 2012 Freshman of the Year, while also garnering Freshman All-American honors. He ended the season 11th nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (5.97), 26th in WHIP (1.0) and 30th in ERA (2.09). He was 7-4 overall and he ranked second in the WCC in opponents batting average (.197), fourth in ERA and sixth in strikeouts (85).
“I agree with Turner, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Radke said. “We still need to go out and show that we deserve that respect and I personally wouldn’t be able to be successful if it wasn’t for my teammates. I’m very excited for what we can do as a team.”
The Pilots 2013 season kicks off on the road with a four game series at No. 5 Mississippi State beginning Feb. 15.