New-look Matadors head to Silver State for three-day Coyote Border Battle for regular season opener
Yuma, Arizona – January 24, 2013 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that the AWC Baseball team will officially open their 2013 regular season schedule tomorrow morning, Friday, January 25th, as they take part in the three-day Coyote Border Battle Baseball Tournament, hosted by the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Matadors will play four games over the three days, opening up with a pair of games tomorrow against the host Coyotes and then Colorado Northwestern Community College; then squaring off against Region XXVIII foes College of Southern Idaho Saturday; before winding up play Sunday by facing the 2012 Western District Runners-up from Salt Lake Community College.
For the Matadors, the expectations are much higher than at this time last year-even though they will take the field tomorrow with a drastically different team than the 2012 squad. ‘The Drew Keehn Era’ began last year in fine fashion as the Matadors’ first-year head coach led a new-look squad all the way to their first berth in the Region I Semifinals since 2006. Keehn and his coaches accomplished that goal with an overhauled roster of sophomore transfers and young freshmen, and posted a 33-win season, their highest single-season win total in six seasons. Keehn also earned the respect of the conference as he was named Region I Baseball Coach of the Year. Keehn’s quest to continue the rise of the program has led to another roster overhaul as just six sophomores return from last year’s squad-although all of them were key components to the 2012 success. The starting outfield of Xavier Palmer, Dallas Hessler and Hayden Calvert remains intact for 2013, as does ¾ of their starting infield (All-Region I/All-ACCAC shortstop Casey Scott, middle infielder Hector Valenzuela and first baseman Jordan Atkinson).
After that, the Matadors are starting over with a young and exciting crop of incoming freshmen. The ten-man is sophomore-free, with such freshmen as Jeremy Alderman, Richard Dutton, Travis Garcia-Perreira, Brandon Anderson and midyear transfer Evan Clements competing for spots in the starting rotation. Those that they will be throwing to will also be new, since a trio of talented catchers-Will Swindling, Beau Cebulski and Sean Anderson-have spent time during ‘fall ball’ taking their shot at being the opening-day catcher.
The Matadors are seeking their first back-to-back Region I Playoff berths since 2002/2003 as they kick things off tomorrow. The Mats will face off against Southern Nevada to kick off the season in an 11AM single game tomorrow before winding up Day 1 against Colorado Northwestern at 7PM. They’ll then battle Southern Idaho Saturday night at 7PM before winding up against Salt Lake Sunday afternoon at 3PM (all times listed are Arizona time). The Matadors will come home after the tournament and prepare for next weekend’s Caballero Classic, which will be held next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 31st, February 1st & 2nd at Desert Sun Stadium (Avenue A south of 32nd Street in Yuma). Fans looking to obtain Caballero Classic schedules and/or 2013 AWC Baseball schedules can get them on the AWC Athletics website (www.azwestern.edu/athletics).