HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the 2018 Big West baseball preseason polls were released the Rainbow Warriors were projected to finish seventh in the conference this season despite returning the majority of their pitching staff and two freshman All-Americans. But, the 'Bows say those low expectations are all just noise to them, noise that they have no problem blocking out thanks in part to all that veteran experience that's leading this year's squad.
"Honestly this is probably one of the strongest teams I've ever played on in my life. So, honestly we have pretty big expectations this year," said 2017 rookie standout, Adam Fogel.
The Rainbow Warriors expectations are rooted in their confidence, and the chemistry they've built as a team full of returning players - most notably on the mound. Last year Hawaii's boasted a 3.68 ERA, landing them at 22nd best in the nation, and the second best in the Big West
This season three of the starters that helped them put up those numbers, in Dominic DeMiero, Neil Uskali and Jackson Rees, will be back in action in Manoa... as will 2017 Freshman All-American closer, Dylan Thomas.
"All around we've improved everywhere in my opinion," said DeMiero. "I couldn't be more excited this is just a really good group of guys."
Part of DeMeiro's confidence comes from what the 'Bows are bringing to the dish as well. Five of Hawaii's top six hitters from 2017 are returning this season including freshman All-American, Adam Fogel who led U.H. with a team high 16 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs.
Head coach Mike Trapasso says he's expecting even more from Fogel this season, after the sophomore hit the weight room and packed on an additional 10-15 pounds of muscle. While the coaching staff has high hopes for what the six-foot five-inch California-native can do during his sophomore campaign, Fogel says he has even bigger expectations for him and his teammates.
"You know 1 through 9 is the potential for double double," said Fogel. :As long as we stay focused and work hard we'll be fine."
The Rainbow Warriors will open their season on Saturday, Feb. 10 with the annual alumni game. They'll open their first series of the year against Air Force on Feb. 16.