Jennifer Song should be fully rested for Stanford Invitational

first_imgThe No. 1 USC women’s golf team goes north this week looking to continue an excellent start to the fall season.After opening with a victory at the Mason Rudolph Championship in September, the Women of Troy look to earn their second consecutive victory at the three-day Stanford Intercollegiate at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.Leading the team this weekend is sophomore Jennifer Song, who is looking for her second career victory after capturing the individual title at the Mason Rudolph. Song, a returning first-team All-American, is hoping to capitalize on her recent success with another victory this week.“I was trying to strengthen myself physically because I was getting worn out from competing all summer,” Song said, referring to the three-week layoff since her last match.She looks to use the Stanford tournament as another step in achieving her goal of averaging under 70 for the season. Her scoring average thus far is 66.Making her season debut for the Women of Troy is senior Belen Mozo, returning from summer shoulder surgery.The three-time All-American “had some pain during the spring…when we went to Nationals,” coach Andrea Gaston said. “The doctor felt surgery was going to be the best way to get her through.”Joining the All-Americans are senior Caroline Kim, sophomore Inah Park and freshman Cyna Rodriguez. Kim, in her second season as a regular contributor for the team, tied for 30th in her season debut, and plans to improve on her 38th place finish at last season’s Stanford Intercollegiate.Park, also in her second season as a regular contributor, tied for 30th with Kim at the Mason Rudolph, and tied for 72nd at the Stanford Intercollegiate last season in the start of her Trojan career. Rodriguez made her Trojan debut at the Mason Rudolph, tying for 40th. All of them are competing for a permanent roster spot this year, and seek to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the absence of All-American junior Lizette Salas and senior Stephanie Endstrasser.The Women of Troy jumped to the No. 1 spot after their win at the Mason Rudolph. The Stanford Intercollegiate features No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 7 California and four other top-25 teams. Still, the added pressure of the top ranking isn’t getting to the team.“I just think about the game I’ll be playing and play it one shot at a time,” Song said. “I don’t really think about being number one.”last_img read more

Joc Pederson: Baby face, grown up game for Dodgers rookie star

first_imgWith his quiet demeanor, wavy haircut and remarkably young baby face, Joc Pederson didn’t look a heck of a lot older than the Westchester Little League All-Stars lined up inside the Dodgers dugout on Sunday.At the most, a not-much-older older brother.Point being, it probably seems like just a blink of an eye to Pederson since he was the same age as the star-struck kids trying get a glimpse of the Dodgers’ latest sensation.Rather than actually being the guy they were elbowing each other out of the way of to get a closer look. “They say the fast track, but try being on all those 14-hour bus rides in the minor leagues,” Pederson said, laughing. “The minor leagues are a grind. It may seem like that was a quick process, but trust me, those bus rides are long.”True, true.It only just seems like Pederson went from teenage prospect to budding superstar about as fast as one of those laser-like rockets his smooth, sudden, beautifully left-handed swing generates at ballparks across America on a seemingly nightly basis.And upon taking his batting practice turn Sunday and then spraying line drives all over the field and jacking moon shots deep into the right-field pavilion, Pederson no longer looked like a kid sneaking into his old man’s medicine cabinet to swipe the shaving cream.In fact, he looked very much like a grizzled big-league veteran. Then you look at the statistics he’s throwing up so far, and all of a sudden you wonder if this is a 23-year-old rookie or a five-time All-Star.The numbers don’t make sense – unless your baseline for 23-year-old center fielders these days are icons like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ty Cobb.Because Pederson’s .960 OPS isn’t too far off the pace from the ones those Hall of Famers put up at a similar age.It’s also the eighth-best in Major League Baseball.His 17 home runs are tied for fourth best, his slugging percentage seventh and on-base percentage within the top 25. Ok, his 71 strikeouts are a concern, but nobody is perfect.And keep in mind he’s doing it all in his first year in the big leagues while batting lead-off for one of the most glamorous clubs in baseball.And did we mention he’s also patrolling center field – and doing a fine job of it?Dodgers manager Don Mattingly compares this smooth swing to Colorado Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez with a little bit of Seattle Mariners superstar Robinson Cano.His plate discipline is so advanced – he’s walked 37 times already – he’s able to flourish at the top of the order without sacrificing any of his power. The recent slugging spree he went on, in which he hit home runs on five consecutive days, is a testament to the kind of juice his slender 6-foot-1, 215-pound body can generate.“I still gotta look to drive the ball,” he said.He’s finding he gets more chances to do that at the top of the order than the bottom, where the eight spot sometimes took the bat out of his hands hitting in front of the pitcher.“They attack you much more (leading off) that’s for sure,” Pederson said. “The eight hole is so much more of a mind game in terms of when you’re going to get a pitch to hit.”And while it was primarily out of need Mattingly moved Pederson from the eighth to leadoff, you get the idea Pederson might have found a steady home there.“Right now we’re comfortable with him up top,” Mattingly said, “He seems to be comfortable up there.”The more you talk about Pederson, the older he gets.“It’s really early though,” he reminded me Sunday night after he took an 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the Dodgers’ loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. “When you’re in the big leagues, if you aren’t producing, they’ll find someone who can produce pretty quickly.”Maybe, but by the looks of things the next time Pederson ever sees the minor leagues it will be on an injury rehab – knock on wood.Still, the mature approach was exceedingly noticeable.On top of all the other advanced aspects of Pederson’s game, his perspective is absolutely veteran-like.Actually that was one of key attributes the Dodgers zeroed in on Pederson during the 2010 draft process.Pederson was a USC pledge playing at Palo Alto High at the time, the son of 12-year-minor league veteran Stu Pederson, who played eight games for the Dodgers in 1985.Growing up around baseball all those years, the sport inevitably got into his blood. More importantly, so did a command and appreciation for the game.It’s something then Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, assistant G.M. Logan White and the Dodgers scouting staff were immediately struck by while evaluating Pederson.“He grew up in a family that respected baseball, that had an unbelievable understanding of the game,” Colletti said. “Whenever you can find somebody that has that kind of understanding, where baseball is that big a part of their life, where it’s not just a once-in-a-while thing it’s a constant thing, it has an affect. When your dad’s a professional baseball player, you’re saturated in it every day. You see it, you live it, you have a feel for it.“Couple with that with the skill set, the athleticism and the ability to play in the middle of the diamond. That catches your attention.”It almost seems laughable now, but the Dodgers didn’t take Pederson until the 11th round. The baseball-wide concern was his commitment to USC, and how much money it would take to convince him to forgo college in favor of starting his professional baseball career. With the risk so nominal at that point in the draft, the Dodgers took their chances Pederson was ready to sign.The lure was a $600,000 signing bonus.“The talent was too good to pass up,” Colletti said. “It took us a little while to sign him that summer, but it all worked out.”Granted, it’s just 57 games into his rookie year, but it’s more than just working out.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more