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Southland colleges have season openers Friday

Seven teams to start at home and one is on the road.

February 12, 2014|By Gary Klein

What's ahead for these eight college baseball teams in Southern California:

USC (20-36 in 2013, ninth in Pac-12): Second-year Coach Dan Hubbs will try to steer the Trojans into contention with senior left-hander Bob Wheatley and junior right-hander Wyatt Strahan atop the rotation. Opener: Northwestern, Friday.

UC Irvine (33-22, fourth in Big West): Andrew Morales returns after finishing 10-0 with a 1.89 earned-run average and third baseman Taylor Sparks drove in 50 runs in 2013. Opener: Fresno State, Friday.

Long Beach State (29-27, sixth in Big West): Senior infielder Michael Hill and senior infielder/outfielder Ino Patron lead a team that should be bolstered by the return from surgery of pitchers Ryan Strufing and Kyle Friedrichs. Opener: Vanderbilt, Friday.

Cal State Northridge (34-20, fourth in Big West): New Coach Greg Moore takes over a program that features junior left-hander Jerry Keel. Opener: at Bethune-Cookman, Friday.

UC Riverside (14-32, eighth in Big West ): David Andriese batted .335 and drove in 43 runs in 2013 and is a key player for a program hoping for a turnaround. Opener: San Francisco, Friday.

UC Santa Barbara (35-25, third in Big West ): Junior Austin Pettibone and closer Dylan Hecht are top pitchers for the Gauchos, who under Coach Andrew Checketts made the NCAA tournament for first time since 2002. Opener: North Carolina State, Friday.

Loyola Marymount (24-27, sixth in West Coast): Colin Welmon, who was 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA in 2013, is the top returning pitcher for the Lions, who will play home night games for the first time. Opener: Utah Valley, Friday.

Pepperdine (27-24, fifth in West Coast): Infielder Austin Davidson and catcher Kolten Yamaguchi are key returning players for the Waves. Opener: St. John's, Friday.

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