It was a long day at Westwood Country Club which was the host of this years Lapel Invite. The Lady Cats were able to earn a 3rd place finish amongst a strong field of 18 teams. They posted a score of 369 which is their season low. Junior, Maggie Brack, matched her season low with a score of 86 and was low for the team.“The girls did a great job today. I know some of my players were not happy with the way they played but we still managed to post our low round of the season. As long as we continue to improve each time we go out I’m confident we can get to the post season with the confidence we need to post some low scores.” Wildcats Coach Marissa Mears.Lady Wildcats: Abby Orschell – 90; Maggie Brack – 86; Gracie Graf – 97; Camryn Brewer – 96 (personal best); Ashlan Hill – 106.Franklin County golf got the win Friday night over the Batesville Bulldogs and Oldenburg Twisters by posting a score of 176 at Hillcrest Country Club. Senior, Abby Orschell, was medallist for the match with a score of 41. Batesville shot a 189 and Oldenburg only had 3 players so did not have enough scores to post a team score.Lady Wildcats; Abby Orschell – 41; Maggie Brack – 44; Gracie Graf – 44; Camryn Brewer – 49; Aslan Hill – 47; Taylor McCreary – 63.
Loading… Former Ajax Cape Town chairman, John Comitis, is still regretting why he did not accept the signing of former Chelsea midfielder, John Obi Mikel, in December 2003. Then a 16-year-old, Mikel arrived in Cape Town for a week-long trial spell and torched Ajax’s Ikamva training grounds with some sublime touches that left everyone awestruck. So impressive was Mikel that then Ajax coach Gordon Igesund had to briefly abandon the former Nigerian’s first training session and stormed into Comitis’ office demanding that he signed the teenager. “After about 20 minutes of training, I told the players, ‘listen, guys, I’ve got to dash somewhere but I’ll be back’. I left my assistant conducting training and I went straight into John’s office and I said, ‘John, sign this player right now, call him now and sign him right away’,” Igesund told Far Post. “The boy was in a different league. He was big, strong and he could pass the ball. We tried everything in our power to sign him, but there were a few issues – between Manchester United and another club. I don’t think he had intentions of signing [for Ajax].” Mikel was already on the radar of Manchester United and Chelsea who later on were involved in a protracted fight for the player’s signature before the Blues later won the battle. Had Ajax met the R1 million signing-on fee demanded by Mikel and his handler, they might have left the Premier League giants holding some fresh air. The Urban Warriors could have taken advantage of the fact that Mikel did jot qualify for a UK work permit and sign the player who had the potential of earning them big money from his sale. “During the first training session, Gordon Igesund came to me and said just sign him. I said I’ll try,” said Comitis. “He was really special, but they were talking about a R1 million signing-on fee. Had I known what I know today it was cheap at that price, but you never know.” Not only Igesund was blown away by Mikel, but also former Ajax forward Nathan Paulse who believes that Mikel’s boots were too big for Premier Soccer League (PSL) football. “We could not believe he was 16 at that time. He was that good. He had authority, he had a presence, he was extremely good on the ball,” Paulse said. “We looked at each other during his first two days and wondered if he was really 16. From a playing point of view, he was amazing. I don’t think playing in the PSL would have done him good. “His ability was just too good at that age. He stood out immediately, he was extremely calm on the ball. He could run with the ball like a top professional. I don’t think the PSL would have suited him in terms of the actual level.” read also:West Ham join West Brom in race for former Nigeria skipper Mikel It came as not a surprise that Mikel went on to win a Uefa Champions League crown and two Premier League titles with Chelsea. Mikel, who is now a free agent after recently leaving Turkish side Trabzonspor, also lifted the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享
This week Spurs, along with Chelsea and Newcastle, were reported to have tabled bids but Pulis denied that such an approach had been made. Pulis expects the speculation surrounding his joint-top goalscorer to continue until the transfer window closes on February 1. “The present situation is the club has not received any offers at all so everything is speculation and you can’t stop people talking,” said Pulis at his pre-match press conference on Friday. “I’m more disappointed for Saido. I told him at the beginning of the window the circus starts again. “If something happens, something happens and he understands that from the last window. “Unless he’s sold now, tomorrow or the next two days it could go to the deadline – it’s a good story.” Berahino has recovered from his bout of illness and will be back in contention against midlands neighbours Aston Villa at The Hawthorns on Saturday. “He’s okay and fit,” said Pulis. ” He’ll be okay for tomorrow. He had a tummy bug – a couple of the lads had it – obviously Rick [Lambert] missed a game from it. “I couldn’t involve him in the cup game which was a shame because I probably would have started him. “But it’s the window again and him on all the back pages. We play Villa in a massive game and we’re not talking about the game.“ Pulis described his squad as “threadbare” as injuries mount ahead of the derby clash. Chris Brunt (calf), Jonas Olsson (hamstring) and Darren Fletcher (knee) look to set to miss out on Saturday alongside long-term absentee James Morrison, who will be absent for around two months with a hamstring injury. Sebastien Pocognoli, who replaced Brunt against Bristol City in midweek when he went off injured, and Victor Anichebe could keep their places in the team as Albion attempt to complete a league double over Villa for the first time in 42 years. Pulis added: “Back then I was at Bristol Rovers as a young kid. I would have been close to signing my first professional contract.” Berahino’s future has been uncertain since handing in a transfer request at the start of the season amid several rejected offers from Tottenham. The rumours reignited when the 22-year-old was left out of the matchday squad at Bristol City for Tuesday night’s FA Cup third round replay, before it was confirmed that he was missing through illness. West Brom boss Tony Pulis insists the club have yet to receive a bid for striker Saido Berahino during the January transfer window. Press Association
By BRIJ PARASNATHGajanand SinghGAJANAND Singh showed that he has not lost much of the class that once made him a favourite Guyana youth player who displayed the class and aptitude to do big things in his cricketing career.He produced two scintillating half-centuries in back-to-back matches and in the process sparked Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) to two convincing victories which pushed the Guyanese club to the St Augustine Campus UWIT20 quarterfinals round.DCC will clash with Police in the second match of the double-header today. This will be a day-night encounter starting at 18:00hrs.Merryboys will do battle with DHB United in the first match at 14:00hrs.DCC had to play both Group D matches on the same day at the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial ground, St Augustine Campus and showed that they will be a major force to be reckoned with during the tournament. It is their first outing and they made a strong impression that they are capable of doing well and vie for top honours.Gajanand Singh was the batting hero in both matches. He top-scored with an unbeaten 64 and skilfully guided DCC to an impressive seven-wicket victory over Moosai Sports which mustered only 101 all out in 18 overs in the second match played under floodlights.DCC replied with 103 for 3 in 12 overs. Guyana’s national Under-15 captain Sachin Singh also contributed 16. Adrian Geeban picked up two wickets for 21 runs.Gajanand Singh collected the man-of-the-match award for his positive attacking stroke-play which ensured that DCC maintained their winning ways and topped their group in the preliminary round matches.DHB United defeated Moosai Sports by 103 runs in their first match. They were led to victory by former T&T opening batsmen Nicholas Sookdeosingh, who smashed an unbeaten 102; and William Perkins (58) as they amassed 229 for 2 in 20 overs. Moosai Sports were restricted to 127 for 8 in 20 overs. Former Trinidad and Tobago pacer Uthman Mohammed captured four wickets for 25 runs.Sookdeo was voted man-of-the-match.Group D (First Round)Match 2: DBH United – 158 for 8 from 20 overs (William Perkins 56, Yannick Ottley 31; Shurfane Rutherford 2 for 19, Cohen Ismond 2 for 26, Keemo Paul 2 for 31) vs Demerara Cricket Club 162 for 4 in 16.5 overs (Gajanand Singh 64 n.o., Kemol Savory 58; Uthman Mohammed 2 for 29, Stephawn Solomon 1 for 11).Result: DCC won by 6 wkts.Man-of-the-match: Kemol Savory (DCC)Match 3: MOOSAI SPORTS 101 all out in 18 overs (Johann Lezama 41, Alden Daniel 14; Keemo Paul 3 for 18, Kellon Carmichael 2 for 20, Sherfane Rutherford 2 for 26) vs DCC 103 for 3 in 12 overs (Gajanand Singh 55, Sachin Singh 16; Adrian Geeban 2 for 21).Result: DCC won by 7 wickets.Man-of-the-match: Gajanand Singh (DCC)Match 1: DBH United 229 for 2 wickets in 20 overs (Nicholas Sookdeosingh 102 n.o., William Perkins 58, Yannick Ottley 37 n.o.) vs Moosai Sports 127 for 8 in 20 (Lyndell Nelson 27, Ryan Inniss 20, Adrian Geeban 16; Uthman Mohammed 4 for 25, Stephawn Solomon 2 for 10, Dillon Mungal 2 for 29).Result: DBH United won by 102 runs.Man-of-the-match: Nicholas Sookdeosingh (DBH United)
“I am very motivated to become the first boxer to defeat Fijabi. It will be a great thing to do. I have watched him fight many opponents, who clearly did not know what to do to defeat him. This time, there is no chance of him escaping defeat,” boasted Murphy.He added that he is not a novice and he is training very well to ensure he realizes his dream.The odds are against Murphy, who is facing an opponent that has won all of his 11 fights and is known for his savage punching power, which has brought his many knockouts.The eight-fight show will also feature musical performances by Burna Boy, Wande Coal, Teni Da Entertainer and Daddy Showkey. The event’s headline fight is the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental super featherweight title between Seun Wahab of Nigeria and Issa Nampepeche of Tanzania.Next to it is the international middleweight challenge contest between Oluwafemi Oyeleye and Tanzania’s Meshack Mwankemwa.Similarly on the card are national lightweight challenge duel featuring Rilwan Oladosu vs Mubarak Hamzat and national featherweight challenge bout, which pitches Ridwan Oyekola against Nurudeen Fatai.The bantamweight division will see Opeyemi Adeyemi take on Saheed Ahmed, while Femi Akintayo will swap punches with Ebubechukwu Edeh in the middleweight class.The best boxer at the event will go home with a cash prize of N1.5million attached to the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Fast rising light welterweight boxer, Yusuf Muftau, has declared that he will be the first opponent to defeat former West African Boxing Union title champion, Olaide Fijabi. Both boxers are scheduled to clash at GOtv Boxing Night 17, holding on December 28, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.In an interview after a training session yesterday, Murphy said he is undaunted by his more celebrated opponent’s unbeaten record.He explained that the fact that Fijabi is yet to taste defeat as a professional boxer is a motivation for him.
GameDay airs at 9 a.m. ET on ESPNU and from 10 a.m. to noonon ESPNCheck out College GameDay’s website atwww.collegegameday.comFollow College GameDay on Twitter @GameDayFootball.College GameDay’s new Facebook page iswww.facebook.com/collegegameday Raise your hand if you thought in August the Badgers would go to the Rose Bowl.Seriously. Do it. I don’t care who’s watching.Keep your hand up if you still thought that after the Arizona State game.One or two hands might have gone down there, I imagine.Now, keep your hand up if you still thought that after the Michigan State game.And now we’re done.It’s a point that has been revisited over and over again, and I’m obviously guilty of it as well: UW looked cooked and ready to be served the minute week one of Big Ten play ended.Lucky for anyone who put a preseason bet on this kind of thing, it still ended happily for Badger fans. How about that?Here at Herald Sports, we weren’t immune to preseason dreaming. Wisconsin had Rose Bowl aspirations in our eyes and the talent to do it. We ran a graphic showing a reflection of the Rose Bowl facade in Aaron Henry’s visor. The front-page feature in the first issue of the semester was about how unstoppable Wisconsin’s offense would be.Twenty points against Arizona State and 27 against San Jose State later, and that proclamation looked like hyperbole – and that’s the nice way of saying it.But even before the season, when every team had a clean slate, I was antsy about the Badgers’ chances. Sure, I touted their skill and determination, but I felt uncomfortable when I envisioned being in Pasadena.So were the Badgers.“I got nervous when I did that. I knew our team was good, but I really wondered how we would handle expectations,” center Peter Konz said after the Northwestern game.After the game in East Lansing, it looked like I would have to eat my words, as far as proclaiming the Badgers a Big Ten contender.Expectations are so easily derailed, dreams deferred and insert clich? here. In college football it only takes one misstep to ruin preseason goals. Ohio State only stumbled once, but it cost the Buckeyes their shot at the national title.Wisconsin tripped up too, but as luck would have it, a black and yellow incarnation of fate stepped in and gave the Badgers another chance.And now, even with flights booked and hotels chosen, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.The Badgers are going back to the Rose Bowl.It’s the perfect ending for an almost-perfect season. It’s hard to believe, especially given the Oct. 2 Game We Can’t Let Go Of.A team only gets so many chances to get to its ideal final destination – 12 or 13, to be exact. And as Bret Bielema is fond of saying, it’s important to go 1-0 in each of those opportunities, lest you end up disappointed.And here we are, in a state of non-disappointment. I think we all figured, as high as our hopes were, that we were in for another Outback or Capital One Bowl appearance. As Moffitt said after the NU game, the Rose Bowl bid is a bit surreal.Very rarely in life do you dream of something and actually achieve it. As a sports fan, that percentage tends to drop even further.But the simple fact is, the Badgers are in the position they hoped they would be in. They got to the Rose Bowl. But that’s not where the story ends. As I’ve said in the past, it’s how the last domino falls that defines the season.For all the celebrating, all the money spent on airfare or tickets, all the festivity, it will all be rendered moot if Wisconsin does not win.Bielema might be one third of the way to Barry Alvarez’s Rose Bowl appearances, but he’s still got a goose egg in the column that counts: Rose Bowl wins.It’s no given that Wisconsin will win. This bout is more Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed than David vs. Goliath. Lost in TCU’s No. 1 defense is the fact the Horned Frogs scored exactly as many points as the Badgers.To ensure this season does not leave a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth, it is crucial Wisconsin wins this game. The 2009-2010 men’s hockey team is proof of this. What those Badgers are overwhelmingly remembered for – unfairly or not – is 5-0 in the title game.When you get a chance to put an exclamation point on your season, you better take advantage of it. The preseason goal might have been to get to the Rose Bowl, but now UW has to win it.There’s one more week left to go 1-0 and the Badgers need to deliver, lest this successful season ceases to be viewed with rose-colored glasses.As Al Davis said, just win, baby.Adam is a senior majoring in journalism. Are you still in disbelief that UW actually made it to Pasadena? Think it’s all thrown away if the Badgers lose? Email him at email@example.com or tweet @AdamJSHolt.
Published on November 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm Contact Sam: firstname.lastname@example.org | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ PITTSBURGH — Syracuse’s first drive stalled after its banged-up offensive line allowed Pittsburgh defensive lineman Darryl Render to burst through the center and stop running back Prince-Tyson Gulley for a 7-yard loss. Its second possession ended on the first play after Gulley let the ball escape his grasp. An interception in the end zone dashed the third chance.In total, Syracuse’s first-half possessions ended in two punts, two interceptions, a fumble and a missed field goal. In a season defined by injuries and an anemic offense, the futility came to a boiling point in a scoreless first half.“We couldn’t sustain drives on offense,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said. “And when we did have a couple opportunities, we didn’t make plays.”And when Syracuse did find momentum — like a 75-yard touchdown drive to start the second half — it didn’t maintain it. The Orange (3-8, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) committed three turnovers, held the ball for only 21:18, and was methodically picked apart by Pittsburgh (5-6, 3-4) in a 30-7 loss to the Panthers on a freezing, rainy Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field in front of 32,549 fans.It was the fifth time this season that Syracuse has been held to one or fewer offensive touchdowns, and it continued a season-long pattern of inconsistency on that side of the ball.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It was never a matter of rhythm, because we always had it,” freshman quarterback AJ Long said. “It was a matter of the offense, and us mentally shooting ourselves in the foot that stopped us today.”Syracuse stayed alive in a game it had no business being in. Kicker Chris Blewitt missed 41- and 45-yard field-goal attempts, wasting the Panthers’ possessions of 7:03 and 11:20, respectively.Pittsburgh’s ground-and-pound offense that had possession for nearly two-thirds of the game did little more than kill game clock, but still hurt any chance of SU getting an opportunity to string together some offense.“It’s a game of momentum,” Shafer said, “but it’s also a game of moving the football to get guys opportunities to get their wind back on the other side. And the whole thing plays together and if you don’t have momentum swings, it’s hard to get yourself in position to win a game.”On its third drive, Syracuse had seemingly stabilized an offense that had combined for a negative 4 yards in its first two drives. Long faked a jet sweep handoff to Gulley and fired a 28-yard pass to Devante McFarlane. Three plays later, Long hit Ben Lewis over the middle for a 14-yard connection.But on third-and-16, he lofted a pass to the corner of end zone that was intercepted by cornerback Lafayette Pitts.Syracuse still found hope when Long connected with freshman wide receiver Steve Ishmael on a 46-yard pass early in the second half. Six plays later, defensive lineman Ron Thompson scored his first career touchdown, moonlighting in SU’s backfield.In nearly every game this season, Syracuse has found itself on the cusp of second-half contention, only for its opponent to pull away. Against Louisville, a Cole Murphy field goal cut a deficit to six in an eventual 22-point defeat. A 14-9 second-half lead over North Carolina State turned into a 24-17 loss. When the Orange hosted Duke, a 10-10 fourth-quarter tie resulted in a 27-10 loss.And again on Saturday, when the momentum shifted Syracuse’s way, it too was only an aberration. The Panthers scored on their next three possessions after SU’s touchdown, and the Orange wouldn’t touch the red zone again.It was another empty performance in a lost season for the Orange.“We just really want to change this program around,” said Ishmael, who finished with 97 receiving yards on six receptions. “Tough loss, tough year, but sometimes people on teams do trials and tribulations not just to scour or anything, but to make them stronger as a team.” Comments
Senior quarterback Matt Barkley and sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee were named among the 15-member watch list for the 2012 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award on Tuesday.Record setter · Senior quarterback Matt Barkley is second in the country in touchdown passes with 33. He set the conference mark with 39 in 2011. – Corey Marquetti | Daily TrojanBarkley, who was also a semifinalist for the 2011 Walter Camp Award, has thrown for 2,972 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a completion rate of 64.8 percent through 10 games.Lee, who had a Pac-12 record of 345 yards receiving against Arizona on Oct. 27, has 98 receptions for 1,447 yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 110 yards rushing and is the only receiver and one of three sophomores on the list.Barkley and Lee are two of four Pac-12 representatives, the others being Oregon running back Kenjon Barner and UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin.The list includes players from each of the top five teams in the most recent BCS standings, including Barner, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones.“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Walter Camp Football Foundation President John Marks said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”USC currently has the most Walter Camp Award recipients of all-time with six award winners.USC running back O.J. Simpson was the first-ever Walter Camp Award recipient, winning twice in 1967 and 1968.Running backs Charles White and Marcus Allen also won as Trojans in 1979 and 1981, respectively. The most recent Trojan winners were quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004 and running back Reggie Bush in 2005.The Walter Camp Award, the fourth-oldest college football award in the nation, is named after Walter Camp, an American football player, coach and sportswriter known as the “Father of Football.”Five finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 28.The winner will be voted on by the Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors and presented during the 6 p.m. edition of ESPN SportsCenter on Dec. 6.
The Wisconsin Badgers played a spoiler game against fifth ranked Louisiana State University with a 16-14 upset victory in college football kickoff.Saturday was part two of an opening game matchup series between the University of Wisconsin and LSU, which began two years ago in Houston, when the Tigers defeated the Badgers 28-24 after battling back from 24-7 deficit. But this year the Badgers had the last laugh.Wisconsin controlled the game through the entire first half, but failed to execute on a number of chances to build a crippling early lead over LSU. The 13-0 lead the Badgers had built up by the third quarter quickly faded after two consecutive LSU touchdowns, setting up a quite memorable fourth quarter and eventual Wisconsin win.Football: Wisconsin’s love for football showcased by historic game at LambeauIn it’s 59 year history of hosting some of the greatest moments in NFL, Lambeau Field will finally host just Read…Offensive Player of the Game: Kicker Rafael GaglianoneIt would be easy to chalk this award up to the Badgers’ starting quarterback Bart Houston after the fifth-year senior’s grit and poise to pull off this kind of upset, or even give it to running back Corey Clement for scoring Wisconsin’s only touchdown of the game on top of 86 yards on the ground. But make no mistake, Rafeael Gaglianone was the most valuable offensive player on the field Saturday.Gaglianone was three for three on field goal attempts for the Badgers, the game winner. Despite the pressure and stage, Gaglianone stepped up to the plate and nailed a 47-yard field goal to put the Badgers ahead 16-13 with 3 minutes 47 seconds remaining in the game.Defensive Player of the Game: Outside Linebacker Vince BiegelVince Biegel finished the game with a tackle for a loss, a sack and a total of four tackles. But what made Biegel the defensive player of the game was the pressure he put on LSU QB Brandon Harris, and more importantly his timing.With 1 minute 4 seconds remaining in the game, LSU was driving down the field and lining up only two yards behind field goal range on a first down. That same play, Biegel stormed through the LSU offensive line practically untouched and came face to face with Harris. Though Harris managed to escape Biegel’s grasp, Harris made a rushed throw off-target that landed securely in the arms of Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon for the game-ending interception.Turning PointThe third quarter. After the Badger defense forced an LSU three-and-out right out of the gate to begin the second half, Wisconsin traveled right down the field for a Clement touchdown run giving the Badgers a commanding 13-0 lead.Appearing to be in complete control of the game after another defensive stop, Wisconsin QB Houston threw a risky pass to a covered Rob Wheelwright, LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White intercepted the pass and returned it 21 yards for the Tigers’ first score of the game.Until that point, LSU’s offense had been practically nonexistent and lacked any sort of rhythm. Immediately after another Wisconsin turnover, the offense came alive. In two plays, LSU turned an fumble into another touchdown. In 61 seconds, the Badgers went from having the Tigers on a leash to facing a 14-13 deficit.When you knew it was overThe second Dixon’s shoulders touched the ground after intercepting Harris’ pass on the Wisconsin 25 yard line with 58 seconds left. If not that moment, certainly the moment that LSU’s Josh Boutte leveled a cheering Dixon on an unnecessarily dangerous cheap shot as the Badger safety ran across the field in celebration.Quotable“I’m really happy with this group of kids and what they did and how they did it, and I don’t think anything will top that.” — Wisconsin Head Coach Paul Chryst
When I was assigned the baseball beat last spring for the Daily Trojan, I couldn’t have been more excited. The program was coming off its most encouraging season in years, making the 2015 NCAA Regional Final and losing to the eventual champion, Virginia. Jeremy Martinez, one of the premier hitters in college baseball, would be back at USC for his junior season along with senior ace Kyle Davis and a host of other talented ballplayers, and USC looked set to make a serious run at the College World Series.But the Trojans stumbled just a little out of the gates, and they never recovered. When I flew home for the summer, the team was two games under .500, finishing the season at an even 28-28 — with a school-record 12 MLB Draft picks on the roster.I was disappointed, but it wasn’t a huge deal personally: I had enjoyed my weekends and Tuesday nights at the ballpark regardless. Having said that, I just couldn’t be optimistic about the 2017 season when I assigned baseball beat writers in January as one of the new sports editors. Surely, a green USC team would struggle this spring, if only because of the ridiculous amount of roster turnover. I grimly thought about head coach Dan Hubbs, who I enjoyed talking to throughout the 2016 campaign. I wondered if I would see him in the Dedeaux Field dugout come my senior spring semester?But here we are near the end of March, and Hubbs and his Trojans are sitting pretty at 15-8 overall (they were 11-12 at this point last season) and in third place in the Pac-12. They have taken two of three in their first two conference series of the year, and they shut out a high-powered San Diego State offense for the second time this season on Tuesday night. Dedeaux Field has also been a fortress early on, with USC boasting an 11-5 mark at home.How did the Trojans manage this after losing two-thirds of their regular 2016 starting lineup and close to half of their entire roster of pitchers? After Hubbs endured much criticism last year, credit must go the head coach now, as he has rallied a USC squad that was picked to finish second-to-bottom in the conference in the preseason.The return of outfielder Corey Dempster was a massive boost as well: The senior passed up a chance to sign with the New York Yankees last summer to return to USC, and he has been a menace hitting cleanup so far this spring, mashing .325 with two home runs and 12 runs batted in. Junior infielder Adalberto Carrillo has also chipped in three home runs and 17 RBIs in his third year in Cardinal and Gold.The star of the season so far, however, is undoubtedly sophomore Lars Nootbaar, who has shifted over to first base after playing outfield during his freshman campaign.Nootbaar cooled off dramatically after a hot start last year, but he has showed no signs of slowing down in 2017, leading the team with a .338 batting average, four dingers and 21 RBIs. He went 3-for-4 on Tuesday and also drove in two crucial runs with a double in the series finale against Arizona State last weekend.But USC’s team batting average has actually fallen considerably compared to 2016, from .294 down to .268. Though they have come up with clutch hits when needed, the Trojans’ hitting has been more timely than consistently deadly so far this year.The squad’s biggest boost this year has come from its pitching. USC endured many disappointing performances on the mound in 2016, finishing the season with a team earned run average of 4.51, which ranked 131st in the nation. The staff has shaved nearly a half-run off that figure this spring. Six Trojan pitchers own ERAs under three, and this wealth of reliable arms may very well be the team’s X factor so far, as USC has taken 11 of its 15 victories this year by fewer than five runs.And the most exciting part about this team is its age. Dempster and infielder David Edson are due to graduate at the end of the season, but most key players should return next spring, assuming last year’s record number of draftees was an anomaly and not the start of a trend. If the Trojans can play to this level with a relatively inexperienced roster, what can they do with a seasoned group of veterans?Of course, USC’s youth also puts it at a disadvantage this year. It’s early: The college baseball season has more than 50 games, and who knows if Hubbs’ many freshman bats and arms will be able to power through the stretch run.Nevertheless, it has been exciting to watch freshman outfielders Brady Shockey and Matthew Acosta deliver clutch hits, and redshirt sophomore Bryce Dyrda and freshman Austin Manning are developing into shutdown closing options in the bullpen. Freshman Chris Clarke even pitched his way out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation after earning the win with 5.2 innings of shutout relief against UCLA at the Dodger Stadium Classic.With a collegiate baseball program as historic as USC’s, it’s always great to have a nationally relevant team on campus — the Trojans are the alma mater of Tom Seaver, Mark McGwire and and Randy Johnson, after all. It seemed like the Trojans were back on the road to a championship before last season’s stumble. Perhaps this year’s underdog side is about to get things on track again, no matter what the experts may predict.Ollie Jung is a junior studying print and digital journalism. He is also a sports editor for the Daily Trojan. His column, “Jung Money,” runs on Thursdays.