The Mountain West Conference baseball tournament is upon us, so we reached out to people familiar with each of the seven teams in order to gain some insight about them.
San Jose State hasn't had it easy on the diamond in the last few years, but incremental improvements have been there for those who have paid attention, like Nathan Edwards, who is the team's media relations student assistant. He was kind enough to take time to fill us in on what to watch with the Spartans.
Mountain West Connection: Though the Spartans' 17-38 record represents a small rebound from last season, San Jose State finished last in the Mountain West for the third straight season. What is your overall sense of the progress that this program has made?
Nathan Edwards: The team got hit hard by the injury bug this season. In addition to losing what would have been two of its better pitchers -- Daniel Harris and Joseph Balfour -- to Tommy John surgery before the year, San José State also lost Brett Bautista (.350 in ten games) and David Campbell (.342, 13 extra-base hits in 32 games) to injury during the year. Those two were arguably the top hitters on the team.
MWC: What can you tell us about Ozzy Braff? He appears to have taken a step forward from last year in slashing .285/.359/.482. Is the senior San Jose State's best overall ballplayer?
NE: Ozzy had a solid season. He was an All-MW player last season and has a chance to repeat this year. He led the team in many offensive categories, and I believe those who watched us play this season would say he was our best player for much of the year.
MWC: Obviously, the Spartans would prefer to avoid a brief trip to Albuquerque, so who will take the ball in Game 1?
NE: Josh Nashed (0-5, 4.61 ERA in 80 IP) will be pitching in Wednesday's play-in game against San Diego State. He came out of the bullpen and retired all six Aztecs he faced this past weekend.
MWC: What are SJSU's expectations for this tournament? The Spartans seem to be a relatively young team - key contributors like Nashed, Shane Timmons (.322/.376/.432), and Brendt Citta are all sophomores and freshmen - so how are they viewing the possibility of an early exit?
NE: Every team goes to the tournament expecting to win as many games as possible.