Sports

Rye's the guy at Florida State

Times Staff Writer

Southern California is a hotbed for all sports but especially baseball.

It seems that it would take a lot to lure a local standout away from the good weather and high expectations that this part of the state provides, but Florida isn't a bad alternative.

Home to spring-training facilities for 18 major league teams, the Sunshine State certainly offers plenty to attract a budding baseball talent.

Perhaps that's what lured Jack Rye (Irvine Woodbridge HS) to Tallahassee to play for Florida State. Or maybe it's because the program is just plain good. The Seminoles are ranked No. 2 in this week's Baseball America top-25 poll and have a 27-1 record.

The team has yet to leave the state of Florida and played only two road games during its hot start, but the Seminoles travel to Durham, N.C., this weekend for the three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series against Duke.

Florida State's only loss was 5-3 at Jacksonville March 21, ending a school-record 23-game winning streak to start the season (the Seminoles fell short of the overall school-record winning streak of 25). It also ended Rye's career-best 20-game hitting streak.

Still, Rye has been at the forefront for the Seminoles, patrolling right field for the third consecutive season and hitting in the No. 4 spot.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Rye, who bats and throws left-handed, has started all 28 games for the Seminoles in 2007, all but one in right field. He was the designated hitter in the other game.

Rye, who is second on the team with a .402 average, had six runs batted in Florida State's 16-3 victory over North Florida on Feb. 27, and has had 12 multiple-hit games this season. Rye also has a team-high four home runs, 32 RBIs and has not committed an error.


Here is a look at other teams outside California that are ranked in this week's top 25 and how players with local ties are helping their cause:

•  No. 4 Oregon State: The defending national champion Beavers have only one former local player on their roster — redshirt freshman Dale Solomon (Moreno Valley Valley View HS). Oregon State is 23-3 and Solomon, a catcher-infielder, has played in 13 games, starting eight. Solomon, 5-11 and 200 pounds, is batting .231 with six hits in 23 at-bats, including two doubles and three runs scored and an efficient five RBIs.

•  No. 8 Rice: Junior pitcher Cole St. Clair (Santa Ana Foothill HS) was an All-American last season but has not thrown a pitch for the 19-10 Owls this season because of shoulder soreness. The Owls hope he can return next month, although no timetable has been set. Last year, St. Clair ranked among the NCAA leaders in several categories, including fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.2), 10th in earned-run average (1.82) and 22nd in saves (11). Junior Daniel Cooper (Costa Mesa HS/Orange Coast College) has not pitched this season after making six relief appearances in 2006.

•  No. 11 Clemson: The 16-7 Tigers figure to be one of the top contenders in the ACC with Florida State, Virginia and North Carolina and their closer is junior Daniel Moskos (La Verne Damien HS). Moskos, a 6-1, 200-pound left-hander, has made a team-high 14 appearances and is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA and five saves in 16 2/3 innings. He also has 21 strikeouts and 10 walks. Last season, Moskos made a team-high 33 relief appearances. No other player had more than 21.

•  No. 14 Oklahoma State: Infielder Matt Lopez (Palm Desert HS), a redshirt freshman, has played in 23 games, starting 22, mostly at shortstop for the 19-6 Cowboys, who had been without regular starter Jordy Mercer until recently. Lopez is batting .333 with 25 hits in 75 at-bats, including six doubles, three home runs, 14 walks and 18 RBIs. In consecutive victories by the Cowboys over Nicholls State on March 3-4, Lopez was a combined five for nine with five RBIs. Then, in Oklahoma State's 17-1 win over Western Illinois on March 13, Lopez was two for four with a home run and five RBIs. Lopez figures to split time at third base and designated hitter.

•  No. 16 Arizona State: The Sun Devils are 21-8 and are coming off taking two of three from host USC last weekend heading into Wednesday's game against rival Arizona. Shortstop Andrew Romine (Trabuco Hills HS) is batting. 292 with 28 hits, 28 runs scored and 17 RBIs. Romine also has stolen a team-high-tying nine bases in 11 attempts. Senior Joe Persichina (Rolling Hills Estakes Peninsula HS) is one of the Sun Devils' top pinch-hitters and utility players, having come in at third base and shortstop mostly. Persichina has played in 22 games and started five with a .344 average and nine RBIs in 32 at-bats. Tyler Hoechlin (Corona Santiago HS), a freshman utility player, has played in eight games and has a .250 average in four at-bats.

•  No. 17 Oklahoma: One of the top contributors for the 20-7 Sooners has been transfer Aljay Davis (Lakewood HS). The junior second baseman has stepped into the leadoff spot after arriving this season from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Davis is batting .317 with 32 hits in 101 at-bats. He has a team-high 26 runs scored, 12 RBIs and eight stolen bases. Freshman Devin Shepherd (Oxnard HS) also has stepped in immediately in right field, playing in 25 games. Shepherd is batting .275 and is second on the team in walks with 14 and also has six RBIs and 22 hits. Another freshman, infielder Bryant Hernandez (Ventura St. Bonaventure HS), has played in 18 games and is batting .148 with three RBIs in 27 at-bats.


Harvard junior Shelly Madick (Harvard-Westlake HS) was selected Ivy League pitcher of the week in softball. She was the winning pitcher for Harvard in the semifinals and final of the Mercer tournament last weekend. She had three quality outings, giving up two runs (one earned) with a 2-0 record, 11 strikeouts and seven hits in 16 innings.


Harvard's women's basketball team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Maryland, 89-65, but sophomore guard Emily Tay (L.A. Marlborough HS) led the Crimson with 16 points and eight assists. Tay finished the season as the Crimson's leading scorer with 12.9 points a game. She also handed out 147 assists to rank sixth on the Harvard all-time single-season list.

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"From Here to There" is a weekly web-exclusive column that appears Wednesdays. If you are aware of a former area prep standout competing in sports and excelling at the collegiate level or elsewhere, please let us know. Send any leads, tips or ideas to: jim.barrero@latimes.com.

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