A key factor for Stanford
Publication Date: Friday May 24, 1996

NCAA BASEBALL: A key factor for Stanford

Experience should play a big role in team's quest for regional title

by Keith Peters

If experience is like money in the bank, Stanford may be rewarded with the biggest prize in college baseball this season. "We've been here before, we've been to the regionals," said senior catcher A.J. Hinch. "We've played in Omaha (Neb., in the College World Series), so we know exactly what we're playing for.

"We have the experience, we have the pitching, we have the defense, and we have the hitting to put it all together. We're not going to be satisfied by just showing up and going through the motions in Omaha. We definitely have the goal to win it this year."

Whether Stanford can first win the NCAA West Regional this weekend at Sunken Diamond and go on to win the CWS will depend largely on the experience factor that the Cardinal possesses.

"It (experience) keeps the tone and the attitude in the dugout calm and under control," Hinch explained. "That's something, when postseason comes around, when times get hectic and it's a must-win situation, our experience level, our older players can step up and take control of the games."

That's what players like Hinch and fellow seniors Brian Dallimore, Troy Kent and Cale Carter have done this season--sparking Stanford to a school-record 16-game winning streak that the Cardinal took into the four-day regional. These veterans have been here before and know what to do.

"My sophomore year," Hinch said, "our team panicked, tried to do too much and got eliminated in two games."

Hinch said too many people were looking for others to carry the team.

"We were always looking for someone else to get the big hit, or somebody to play well. It snowballs into a big mess if you don't take control of the situation.

"Last year one of the things we didn't do was panic--put any more undue pressure on ourselves. We just played the same game of baseball that we played the whole year. We're going to have to do that here. Luckily, we get the extra benefit of playing at home, kind of having a regular routine--sleeping in your own bed, staying on the same meal plan."

Also in Stanford's favor is health. The team has fewer key injuries this season. When someone did go down as Hinch did with a bad back, which forced him into a designated hitter role for nearly two months, others (like Jon Schaeffer at catcher) filled with little or no dropoff.

"We definitely have everything under control," Hinch said. "There's a different tone this year, that we're definitely after something." 

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