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Kempton Got Mind, Body on Trick Play

June 03, 1993

Keven Kempton did not get the chance to pitch Sunday, but he was more than ready. Kempton, a Cal State Northridge junior right-hander, followed an unusual sleeping and eating pattern prescribed by Coach Bill Kernen to fool his body and mind into believing he would pitch Sunday on two days' rest instead of one day.

After pitching Friday night in a 7-6 victory over Pepperdine in the NCAA West Regional at Tempe, Ariz., Kempton returned to the team hotel, slept, awoke at 5 a.m., ate breakfast and accompanied his teammates to the field.

Fifteen minutes into the Matadors' 11 a.m. game against Arizona State, Kempton returned to the hotel, took a shower, had his arm massaged and slept until 5 p.m. After he got up, he ran, ate breakfast and returned to the field for the team's 7 p.m. game against St. John's.

His plan was to wake up Sunday, run, eat breakfast, watch the Matadors' first game and pitch in the second game, the championship of the West Regional.

But Northridge failed to get that far. The Matadors blew a five-run lead and lost to St. John's, 11-10, after reliever Evan Howland walked six batters in the ninth, four in a row.

Kempton wanted to warm up in the game, but Kernen insisted on saving him for Sunday.

Kempton praised Kernen's plan, which was followed two years ago by Kenny Kendrena, who did pitch on a day's rest.

"It went well," he said. "When I woke up at 5 p.m. Saturday, it felt like it was Sunday. It was a weird, weird feeling. The concept of fooling your mind works. Kernen is phenomenal. It is amazing how mentally tough he makes you. If you are willing to put in the effort, things will happen in your life."



Right fielder Greg Shepard finished the season as the team's leading hitter with a .345 average. He was followed by catcher Mike Sims (.338), third baseman Andy Small (.332), shortstop Andy Hodgins (.328), and designated hitter Keyaan Cook (.306).

Small led the team in runs batted in (66). Shepard, batting leadoff, drove in 64 runs. Sims drove in 42. Small was the home run leader with 20, and Shepard had 11.

Shepard led the team in doubles with 18. Sims had 17 doubles, and Chris Olsen 14.

Sims finished his four-year career as the Matadors' all-time leader in at-bats with 868. He is fourth on the hit list with 259, seventh in doubles with 41 and ninth in RBIs with 123.

Hodgins finished his four years at Northridge ranked third in sacrifices with 13, fourth in runs (162) and at-bats (802), and sixth in doubles (43) and hits (236).

Northridge pitchers completed 31 of 56 starts. Junior right-hander Marco Contreras posted a team-low 3.98 earned-run average with team highs in strikeouts (82), shutouts (three), innings (122) and appearances (17). His record was 8-4.

Kempton and John Bushart each won 10 games. Kempton was 10-4 with 13 complete games and a 4.07 ERA. . . . Bushart, who finished 10-4 with a 4.38 ERA, was plagued by tendinitis in his left (throwing) shoulder over the last seven weeks of the season. He was banking on the unusually long break between starts (13 days) to enable his arm to recover in the West Regional against Arizona State, but he lacked velocity.

"My arm just didn't come back," said Bushart, whose fastball was clocked at only 79 m.p.h.

The arm injury could cost Bushart, a junior, in baseball's amateur draft.

Sophomore first baseman Jason Shanahan went six for 15 (.400) in the regional after batting only .261 during the season. . . . Northridge finished the season ranked 15th in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

Because of the inflexibility of a six-team, double-elimination schedule, the Matadors played until 10:30 p.m. Friday in the West Regional and were up Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and back on the field at 9 a.m. in preparation for an 11 a.m. game against Arizona State.

"You gotta feel sorry for Northridge," Arizona State Coach Jim Brock said. "They played a tremendously emotional game late last night and then they had to come back today."

Kernen did not think one game affected the other, but Small said the Matadors were flat. "We weren't really aggressive at the plate," he said. "Whenever we play flat, someone jumps on us."

After hitting two homers to lead Northridge to its first win of the regional, Small went two for 14 with nine strikeouts. On Wednesday, Small tried out with the San Diego Padres. He is expected to be the first Northridge player taken in the draft.

Returning players were lining up summer teams to play for earlier this week. Most of them will play in a local college league, but center fielder Joey Arnold is traveling to Amarillo, Tex., to play on a team in the Jayhawk League. It is a wooden-bat league for college-aged players.


Charlotte Vines' streak of qualifying for the NCAA championships was snapped at three Sunday when she was not invited to compete in this year's Division I meet at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans. The meet began Wednesday.

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