The 15th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team begins its quest for a second consecutive NCAA postseason berth when it hosts Western Oregon on Feb. 1-3 at Triton Baseball Field. UCSD has been selected by the California Collegiate Athletic Association coaches, as the preseason favorite to claim the 2008 CCAA title. Part of the Tritons’ success can be attributed to junior starting pitcher Trevor Decker. The Palo Cedro native has 16 wins over the last two years, reaching the CCAA tournament on both occasions. Decker recently took time to discuss the upcoming year and life as a student-athlete on the Triton baseball team.
Q- How did you spend your off-season both on and off the baseball field?
DECKER- This off season I played for a team based out of Sunnyvale, CA called the Maxim Yankees. This is where I resided, worked fulltime, and enhanced my baseball skills all summer. On the field I kept my same routine, and off the field I worked from 6-2:30 then came home and played online games with my leisure time. I guess you could say it kind of became a second job for me. It was a great experience playing against highly regarded Division I players, and our team eventually finished 9th in Kansas, at the NBC World Series.
Q- During the early part of your freshman season, you spent time as a closer. Since then you have been a consistent starter for the Tritons. Do you prefer starting or relief pitching? Is one more difficult than the other?
DECKER- Both starting and closing as a pitcher, are roles that every pitcher wants to be in. However, I would have to say I prefer to be a starter. Throughout my baseball career I have always been a starter, and have only had little experiences closing since my coaches weren’t willing to sacrifice my arm for a win. But, I would have to say I like the adrenaline rush of closer more. You are going out there for a short period of time because you are the one that is supposedly untouchable, and can’t be fazed. You put it all out there on the line for that short amount of time, and don’t try to pace yourself to finish an entire game. I don’t think that either one is more difficult than the other, but they do have very different mindsets. As a closer you don’t think, as a starter you see everyone multiple times, and to me pitching is all about outthinking your opponents, and that is one thing I love to do.
Q- Is there a hitter on this year’s squad that you are glad you do not have to face in a game?
DECKER- All our hitters on our team are dangerous, and I’m really glad that they are all on my side; however, when we intra-squad I have always had a very difficult time getting Kyle Saul out. I guess you can say he has definitely gotten the best of me.
Q- What are some of your most memorable baseball moments in your career at any level?
DECKER- In high school I have two moments that really stick out in my mind. In my junior year of high school I pitched my second ever perfect game, first at that level. It was special to me because it kind of changed the opinions of everyone who thought I was just going to be another player that fizzled out after Little League and Pony. It gave me the confidence and swagger I needed, and made me feel like no one could stop me. Also, in my senior season I had the opportunity to pitch all three games of the NSCIF playoffs for my high school, Foothill. We were the #1 seed for the 4th straight year and I ended up pitching three complete game shutouts to win the NSCIF playoffs.
Q- Do you have a favorite baseball team and player?
DECKER- My favorite baseball team is without a doubt the San Francisco Giants. Yes, I know its excruciating to watch them, especially in the late innings. My favorite player though would have to be Alex Rodriguez. He is just someone that I have watched since I was a little boy and just love the way he goes out and gets his job done. He doesn’t have to be in the spotlight like most other players, and never seems to get into drama or trouble.
Q- Discuss some of the newcomers to this year’s team. Are there a few newcomers that will surprise some people?
DECKER- We have a lot of really great new guys that are all going to have a dramatic impact on our team. We have Nick Burke, and Evan Domanic who have replenished out outfield with speed and fantastic arms. We also have Michael Benton behind the plate that is filling some very big shoes right now. As far as pitchers go we have so many new arms I couldn’t name them all. I believe though that the person that will be the biggest surprise is Tim Shibuya, a freshman from Wyoming. Came from a small town, lived on a farm, just someone you see on paper and don’t think he has any ability what so ever because most people don’t even think baseball exists in Wyoming.
Q- How has the coaching staff helped you develop, specifically Head Coach Dan O’Brien and pitching coach Matt Hobbs.
DECKER- In regards to Coach O’Brien he has not only helped develop me as a ball player, but also as a person. He has taught me so many things that I will be able to use my entire life. He talks about these things all the time at practice, and I don’t know if a lot of people really realize how important they really are. It doesn’t matter if it’s about mentality, body language, image, having a routine, controlling the controllables etc. all of it goes way beyond what we as ball players do on the field. As for Coach Hobbs he has made me a much tougher person. He is hard on us and expects more from us then what I believe we as pitchers do. He really makes us strive for perfection, and there is always something that could be better. He really doesn’t let you get comfortable, and gets every bit of potential out of you.
Q- What are some of your favorite pre-game/warm-up songs?
DECKER- I would have to say I really like listening to just a random country mix that I have on my Ipod when I arrive at the club house. It consists of Kenny Chesney, Chris Cagle, Rascal Flatts, etc. Other than that I might mix it up with a few montage songs from Rocky 4, or Top Gun.
Q- Teammate Vance Albitz won the knock-out competition at Triton Jam. Is there someone on the team that has the best shot at beating him next year? Or will Albitz re-peat?
DECKER- Vance is without a doubt one of the top three basketball players on our baseball team, but I would have to say he has a major threat of losing his title to Josh Tanner next year. Every time we shoot or play a pick up game Tanner brings the rain. I believe he holds the three point record for his school at Ponderosa in Sacramento.
Q- What do you do on game-days when you are not scheduled to pitch?
DECKER- It all depends on if my day off is before or after I pitch. If it’s before I roll out to the field, stretch, shag balls during BP, then play catch out to no more than 90ft. The day after a start though for my day off is definitely much worse. I show up same time as everyone else, but while they are stretching and throwing I’m running with Coach Hobbs. To put it mildly, it sucks, and after about thirty minutes of work I mix in and shag with the rest of the team. After that I immediately go to the gym and get a lift in to help break up all the lactic acid in my arm, then return and get ready to help my team win from the dugout.
Q- What do you plan to do with your Chemistry/Biochemistry major?
DECKER- As of right now I’m planning on attending medical school with my Chemistry/Biochemistry degree. I still have just less than three years of school left, but this is the current plan. Then after I graduate from medical school my ultimate goal is to become a plastic surgeon.
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