These above foursome are among the 13 seniors on BYU's squad to play in this week's MWC Preseason Tourney at San Diego. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
A first-ever Mountain West Conference preseason baseball tournament in San Diego starts Wednesday for BYU.
The Cougars, 9-14 overall, have their first league game of the season against UNLV, 12-13, at 3 p.m. (PST) when they will start Matt Jensen (0-3, 8.78) on the mound.
The remaining BYU games in the tourney will all be played at 11 a.m. (PST). The probable BYU starters are Patrick Wells (3-3, 5.13) against TCU on Thursday, Jesse Craig (1-5, 3.40) against New Mexico on Friday and Brandon Christiansen (3-1, 5.60) against Utah on Saturday. The Cougars are the home team against UNLV and New Mexico.
"The coaches in the league wanted an extra four games for a more viable conference season, so that is why we opted to play this tournament when TCU joined this season," said BYU Coach Vance Law. "It's important for us to get off to a good start in league play. Right now I'm playing those who are hot, so our lineup isn't as defined."
Seniors Ben Saylor and Jeff Hiestand are some of the Cougars who are now starting to play better. Hiestand finally broke the Mendoza Line (.200) last week when he raised his batting average to .206. Hiestand had been at .083 after three games and Saylor was at .172 after nine games and is now batting.277. The Cougars are now batting .238, but broke the Mendoza Line a couple weeks ago.
New Mexico freshman Seth Johnson was one Cougar who most recently got the call to start in the outfield and sports a team-leading batting average of .538.
In this week's tourney, BYU doesn't play everyone in the MWC as it won't face Air Force or host San Diego State. However, the Cougars have lost the last game they have played against each of the teams they are scheduled to play this week--UNLV (twice to end their season in the MWC Tourney last year), newcomer TCU (the last two games of a 2003 series), New Mexico (the last two games in Provo in 2005), and Utah (a non-league game earlier this month in Provo).
All of this week's BYU games in San Diego will be carried live locally on KOVO Radio 960 AM with Brent Norton calling the play-by-play and will also be available for both live audio and livestats on the Internet www.byucougars.com.
Following the MWC Preseason Tourney, BYU returns home to host Southern Utah in a rematch on Monday afternoon (April 3) at 3 p.m., before returning to league action at UNLV in a nationally-televised game on April 6.
For more information on BYU's baseball team for this week, click on the PDF link at the top of this page.