November 6, 1998
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona State baseball team wrapped up its two weeks of Fall Ball October 30 to rave reviews. Fans who went out were treated to some great performances both on the mound and at the plate.
"We had great fan support this year at Fall Ball," noted head coach Pat Murphy. "A lot of parents and fans of the program came out to take a sneak peek at the '99 squad."
Players used both wood and aluminum bats this fall and played intrasquad games exclusively.
On the mound, newcomers Will Waldrip, a lefty transfer from Brigham Young and Charlie Williamson, a righthanded transfer from Northwestern both turned in solid performances for the Devils.
"Both young men were a very pleasant surprise," said Murphy.
Pitching coach John Pawlowski made an adjustment with Williamson's delivery that proved to be most effective. "We moved him from pitching straight over the top to a three-quarters arm slot," Pawlowski said. Williamson, nicknamed "the senator", ended Fall Ball pitching 3.1 hitless innings on the final night of play. The interesting note is that Williamson had come in to close the bottom of the ninth (just three outs), but Murphy kept extending the inning to see if anyone could get a hit off of the 6-6 righthander. "He has a lot of maturity on the mound," Murphy noted. "He kept his composer batter after batter and proved he has the right mental makeup to be in the mix for us this season."
Freshman Jon Switzer, a lefty from Houston, Texas, also showed some maturity on the mound facing lefties in late innings. Eric Doble, a sophomore transfer from Grand Canyon, was solid on the mound and could see action as the third starter or a setup man.
Sophomore Chad Pennington, a '98 freshman All-American, did not pitch during Fall Ball. He is rehabing his pitching arm and is expected to be ready in January. Senior Chuck Crumpton, who led the team with five saves last season, saw limited action on the mound this fall due to injury but is also expected to be at full strength in 1999.
Offensively, juniors Mark Ernster and Jay Sitzman established themselves as go-to players this fall among the returning non-starters.
"Both Mark and Jay handled themselves well at the plate and in the field," said Murphy. "We are expecting great things from both players in January."
Newcomers who showed immediate promise were outfielder Jeff Duncan (Iowa State), Scott Goodman (Cuesta College), Mitch Jones (Utah Valley CC), Donny Starkins (Nebraska) along with Tate Gunning (Mountain View HS). Also keep an eye on freshmen Brooks Conrad (Monte Vista) and Dave Licini (Clay) as well as transfer Mike Lopez (Yavapai CC).
Highly-touted freshman Trent Pratt also proved he is ready defensively behind the plate to play at this level.
Returners Andrew Beinbrink, Willie Bloomquist, Jeff Phelps, Casey Myers and Chip Gosewisch looked ready for action, turning in the solid performances that were expected.
Showing some serious power were transfers Mitch Jones and Scott Goodman as well as returner Andrew Beinbrink.
Although there were plenty of new faces on the field this fall, Murphy does not want to view this as a rebuilding year and spent the fall focusing on the mental part of the game.
"We're not worrying about skills," said Murphy. "Every player here has the skills to compete at this level. What we worked on is the mental toughness that separates the truly successful player who finds a way to win. We don't want to use rebuilding as an excuse in 1999, so we are laying the foundation this fall to prepare our players for the challenges ahead of us."