Feb. 14, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team was well represented in Baseball America’s 2008 season preview. The Irish, picked to finish third in the BIG EAST, was projected to reach the NCAA Tournament’s field of 64.
Notre Dame was penciled into the Long Beach Regional as the fourth seed. Long Beach State was the host and top-seed, while Pepperdine (#2 seed) and California (#3 seed) rounded out the regional.
The Irish had two players chosen as “Players to Watch” at their respective position. David Phelps (Jr., Hazelwood, Mo.) was one of three starting pitchers recognized, while Kyle Weiland (Jr., Albuquerque, N.M.) was the lone closer honored.
Phelps – one of two Irish pitchers ever to post 100-plus strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 during the same season – has already been named to the 2008 preseason watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, a national player-of-the-year award that is selected by a panel of sports information directors, beat writers and college baseball coaches.
Phelps earned first team all-BIG EAST Conference honors in 2007, joining former All-Americans Aaron Heilman (in ’99) and Chris Niesel (in ’03) as the youngest Notre Dame pitchers ever named to the BIG EAST’s top team (each earned the honor as sophomores).
Phelps finished the 2007 season as the league leader in overall ERA (1.87; good for 14th in the nation) and strikeouts (102; sixth in ND history) while ranking third among BIG EAST pitchers with 110.1 innings pitched, seventh in low opponent batting average (.236) and eighth in wins (8-5). He was one of only six pitchers in the nation who entered the 2007 postseason with an ERA under 2.00, eight or more wins and 90-plus strikeouts.
Phelps also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2007 and advanced to the Academic All-America ballot, after carrying a 3.36 cumulative grade-point average into the 2007 season (as a double major in political science and computer applications).
Weiland returns to the back end of the Irish bullpen in 2008, after injuries and lack of depth within the pitching staff forced him into the starting rotation last season. As a full-time closer in 2006, Weiland finished third nationally with a school-record 16 saves while compiling a 2.37 ERA.
Weiland – a second team all-BIG EAST selection – ranked among the nation’s top freshmen in the ’06 season, receiving top Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and the The Rosenblatt Report/rivals.com while also being invited to the annual USA Baseball National Team trials.
Weiland and Phelps were rated the first and sixth best prospects (in terms of the 2008 draft) in the league. Looking ahead to the 2009 draft, A.J. Pollock (So., Hebron, Conn.) was ranked as the second-best prospect in the BIG EAST.
The publication also listed in top five newcomers for the BIG EAST Conference and the Irish had two freshmen among the group. Right-handed hurlers Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) and Evan Danieli (East Hanover, N.J.) were ranked third and fifth, respectively.
The open to the Notre Dame season is just over a week away. The Irish travel to Clearwater, Fla. from Feb. 22-24 to face Liberty, Iowa and Albany. First-pitch for next Friday’s season opener is slated for 1:00 p.m. against the Flames.
— ND —