Kyle Jensen, center.

The men’s baseball team heads into its 2009 season with high hopes, led by junior outfielder Kyle Jensen — who earned national and conference honors after a sophomore season in which he set a Saint Mary’s batting-average record of .421.

Jensen, who hit 13 home runs and 17 doubles and had 82 RBIs, was an All-WCC First Team selection and an ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division I Second Team All-American. He played in Alaska’s summer league in 2008 for the Mat-Su Miners, crushing a homer to left-center field during a showcase game for major league scouts.

“He’ll be a high-round draft pick” in 2009, Gaels head coach Jedd Soto predicts, noting Jensen broke SMC records set by James Mouton ’91, who played from 1994–2001 for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers. Jensens’s size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) does not detract from his speed; Soto calls Jensen, who stole 10 bases last year, “the fastest runner in our conference.”

Jensen, who played left field last season, will play center field this season.

Other returning players include left-handed pitcher Anthony Aliotti, outfielder Justin Fazio and infielder Randy Wells.

“This is the most talented team and the most experienced team since I’ve been at Saint Mary’s,” says Soto, who is in his sixth season.

New players include shortstop Chris Murphy, who hit .596 in his

senior year at Arcadia High in Phoenix, Ariz., catcher Troy Channing from Foothill High in Pleasanton, right-handed pitcher Kyle Barraclough and right-handed pitcher Nathan Gonzales.

The preseason begins Feb. 20, when the Gaels host the University of Oregon at Louis Guisto Field. Conference play starts the last week of March, opening with a game against Santa Clara.

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