Arizona State baseball begins the 2012 season next weekend against Western Michigan.
Of course, the Sun Devils are not eligible for postseason play this season thanks to an NCAA ban, but head coach Tim Esmay said the Devils still have plenty to play for. Esmay addressed the postseason ban immediately when Media Day was held at Packard Stadium on Wednesday.
"The one thing we did not accomplish last year was winnning the Pac-12. That's our goal this year, but in reality, that's our goal every year," Esmay said.
ASU won four straight Pac-10 championships (foreiting one due to sanctions from the NCAA) before finishing the 2011 season one game behind UCLA. Winning the inagural Pac-12 title will be a challenge. Five teams, including the Sun Devils, are ranked in Baseball America's Preseason Top 25 (#2 Stanford, #5 Arizona, #14 UCLA, #17 and #23 Oregon State). But this isn't new to Esmay.
"I laugh at [the preseaon rankings] because last year everyone talked about how down the Pac was and at the end of the year, five teams are playing in the Super Regional," said Esmay. "I believe the conference is going to be just a strong as it's been in the past. It's going to be a battle."
Returning for their junior seasons is the dynamic duo of Deven Marreo and Joey DeMichele. Both player were All Pac-10 selections last season, with DeMichele having breakout season, leading the conference in batting average (.368) and slugging percentage (.663) as the Sun Devils designted hitter in 2011. DeMichele will find more time in the field this sesaon, likely splitting time at second and third base.
"We really only have one goal and that's to win a Pac-12 championship," DeMichele said. "Other teams are fjust trying to get into the postseason, but given our limitations we're focused on winning the Pac-12 every series."
Sun Devils Ace Brady Rodgers echoed the same mentality.
"We are just going to go out there and play the Sun Devil way. We won't be able to go to Omaha, but our goal is still winning a conference championship and we look to get that started next week against Western Michgian."
The 2012 season start on February 17th on The Fan AM 1060. Pregame starts at 6 PM MST with first pitch from Packard at 6:30.