Ducks open season with four-game series at Hawaii: The University of Oregon opens the 2013 baseball season with a four-game series starting this Friday at the University of Hawaii.  The Ducks and Rainbows play a single game Friday through Monday with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, and 3:05 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

Oregon is opening its season in Hawaii for the third straight season, while playing on the Islands for the third straight year. UO won three of four against the Rainbows last season after splitting four games to open the season with UH in 2011.  Hawaii  won three of four during the second week of the 2010 season. The Ducks are 6-7 against the Rainbows, including a loss in Portland in 2009, since the program’s return. The Rainbows lead the overall series 12-6 with all but one game played in Hawaii. Oregon is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, taking the final three games of last year’s four-game series. After losing the season-opener 4-1, the Ducks picked up a 3-2 win in 12 innings, a 14-5 win and a 12-6 victory. UO outscored UH 30-17 last year.

Ducks open home schedule Feb. 22 vs. Loyola Marymount: Oregon’s home schedule gets underway Feb. 22 when the Ducks host Loyola Marymount in the opener of a three-game series at 6 p.m. at PK Park.  The Ducks and Lions will also play single games Saturday (Feb. 23) at 2 p.m. and Sunday (Feb. 24) at Noon.

The three-game series against LMU is the beginning of a 29-game home schedule for the Ducks which includes five Pac-12 series. UO hosts Arizona, Washington, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State in league play. The Ducks also entertain nationally-ranked Vanderbilt March 8-10 at PK Park. The Commodores are ranked as high as second in the nation and are in the top five in four of the five preseason polls.

Oregon’s home schedule includes a pair of seven-game home stands with both coming in March. UO entertains Cal State Northridge (2 games), Vanderbilt (3 games) and Texas State (2 games) March 4-13. The Ducks host Arizona (3 games), Portland (1 game) and Washington (3 games) March 22-30.

Oregon picked fourth in preseason Pac-12 Coaches Poll: The Oregon Ducks are picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Pac-12 Preseason Baseball Coaches’ Poll. UO received 73 points behind only preseason favorite Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State. The Ducks won a school-record 46 games in 2012 before ending their season in the Super Regional in Eugene. UO returns seven position player starters this season behind a pitching staff that features four returning starters and an All-American reliever.

UO opens season ranked in all five preseason polls, including a No. 6 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Coaches Polls:
Oregon enters the 2013 season as a consensus top 15 team in the country. The Ducks are ranked in all five preseason polls, with the Collegiate Baseball and USA Today Coaches polls ranking UO sixth. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association placed Oregon eighth, while Perfect Game has the Ducks 10th and Baseball America ranks UO 15th heading to Hawaii.

Oregon faces another tough schedule in 2013:
The Ducks head into the 2013 season with what figures to be another tough schedule. Oregon will play seven teams ranked in the preseason top 25, including five teams from the Pac-12. UO first plays a team ranked in the top 25 when the Ducks travel to Cal State Fullerton (March 1-3) to play George Horton’s old team in a three-game series. The Titans, the defending Big West Conference champions, open the season ranked 22nd in the country. Five days later Oregon entertains No. 2 Vanderbilt (March 8-10) at PK Park. UO opens the home portion of conference action against defending national champion and 10th-ranked Arizona (March 22-24). The Ducks also play at No. 16 Arizona State (April 5-7), vs. No. 6 Oregon State (April 9 at OSU, May 17-19 at PK Park, May 21 at OSU), while hosting both No. 2 UCLA (April 19-21) and No. 4 Stanford (April 26-28).

Ducks coming off best season in program history:
Oregon heads into the 2013 season with momentum thanks to a record-setting 2012 campaign.  The Ducks finished the season last year with a school record 46 wins and the school’s first ever Super Regional appearance in the modern era. UO finished the season ranked in all five national polls, including a No. 11 ranking by Baseball America. Oregon also finished with 19 Pac-12 Conference wins, the most in program history, and UO’s third-place conference finish was the best for the program since taking second place in the Northern Division in 1978.  Senior Alex Keudell’s 11 wins set a new UO single-season record, and he was the first Duck in program history to be named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.  Sophomore Jimmy Sherfy’s 19 saves set new Oregon single-season and all-time records, and ranked second in the nation.

Oregon returns bulk of 2012 squad:
Oregon heads into the 2013 season with experience throughout the lineup and on the mound. The Ducks return 11 position players, including seven position starters. UO also has eight returning pitchers, including four of last year’s starters and All-American closer Jimmie Sherfy.

Sherfy named to NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list; junior also on three preseason All-America teams:
Jimmie Sherfy has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year watch list. Sherfy, who is one of 75 players named to the preseason list, was a Stopper of the Year finalist as a sophomore last season. The Camarillo, Calif. native also has claimed a number of preseason All-America  honors. He was named a preseason first-team All-American by the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger, and was a second-team preseason pick by Perfect Game. Sherfy earned multiple postseason All-America honors as a sophomore after finishing the season with 19 saves and a 2.20 ERA. The right-handed reliever claimed first-team ABCA/Rawlings All-America recognition, while being named second-team All-America by the NCBWA, Baseball America, and Perfect Game, and third-team by Louisville Slugger.  Sherfy was also a NCBWA Stopper of the Year finalist and claimed first-team All-Pac 12 accolades after leading the league in saves. Sherfy set an Oregon record with 19 saves while finishing with a 5-3 record in 36 appearances.  He struck out 93 hitters in just 61.1 innings (an average of 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched) and held opponents to a .172 batting average.

Sherfy Preseason Honors
NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List
NCBWA Preseason 1st-Team All-America
Louisville Slugger Preseason 1st-Team All-America
Perfect Game Preseason 2nd-Team All-America

Sherfy 2012 Postseason Honors
NCBWA Stopper of the Year Finalist
ABCA/Rawlings 1st-Team All-America
Baseball America 2nd-Team All-America
Perfect Game 2nd-Team All-America
NCBWA 2nd-Team All-America
Louisville Slugger 3rd-Team All-America
Pac-12 1st-Team All-Conference

Horton named 2012 Division I Coach of the Year by FieldTurf: University of Oregon head baseball coach George Horton won the 7th annual FieldTurf Baseball Award as the 2012 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year Field Turf announced in January. Horton led the Ducks to within one win of the College World Series in just the program’s fourth season after it was reinstated for the 2009 season.  Under Horton’s tutelage, Oregon finished the 2012 season with a 46-19 record and a No. 11 ranking in the final Baseball America Top-25 poll. The Super Regional appearance was the eighth by a Horton coached team, and the first for Oregon since 1954. The 40-win season was the ninth in Horton’s 15 years as a head coach at the Division I level and the team’s .708 winning percentage was the best by a Ducks team since 1978.

Ducks 2013 recruiting class ranked No. 6 by Perfect game: The Oregon Ducks 2013 baseball recruiting class is ranked sixth in the nation by Perfect Game. The Ducks signed the nationally-ranked class after advancing to within one game of the College World Series last season.  Oregon won a school-record 46 games in 2012 before ending its season in the Super Regional in Eugene.

Quick Hits: The Ducks return a wealth of experience in the field with eight players who started at least 18 games in 2012 returning as probable starters in 2013.  Oregon returns its entire infield with first baseman Ryan Healy (65 starts), second baseman Aaron Payne (65 starts), third baseman Ryan Hambright (25 starts) and shortstop J.J. Altobelli (51 starts) combining to start 206 games last season.  UO’s projected starting eight behind the Ducks’ pitchers and the designated hitter have combined to start 362 games last season if Shaun Chase starts behind the plate. Scott Heineman moves to centerfield after starting 27 games at third base in 2012, while Brett Thomas is back in left field after making 53 starts last season.  Kyle Garlick will open the season at DH for Oregon after splitting his 58 starts last season between right field and the DH position.  Steven Packard will get the starting nod in right field, and though he was not on the team in 2012 while finishing a two-year church mission, he is experienced with 45 starts as a true freshman in 2010.

Oregon’s pitching staff features a nice blend of experience and youth. The Ducks’ four projected starters for the Hawaii series feature two pitchers (Jake Reed, Jeff Gold) who combined to start 30 games in 2012, while the other two starters have a combined one start between them. The Ducks’ bullpen is also deep and talented.  Jimmy Sherfy is on the watch list for the Stopper of the Year award, while freshman Garrett Cleavinger will share short relief duties with Sherfy, a returning All-American.  Christian Jones, who headed into last season as a top of the rotation starter, will open the season in the bullpen after recovering from an elbow injury that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season. Jones will bring experience to the bullpen with 13 career starts, along with Brando Tessar who started nine games last season before suffering an injury.  Cole Wiper, Darrell Hunter also expect to contribute with key innings.