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Pepperdine Hopes to Repeat as Conference Baseball Champs:

The 2007 college baseball season began last weekend, with defending champion Pepperdine again favored in the West Coast Conference and Loyola Marymount expecting to make a strong playoff bid.

Steve Rodriguez begins his fourth season as the Pepperdine coach. The Waves had a 42-21 record a year ago and played in the NCAA Malibu Regional.

Brett Hunter, who was 5-3 last season and had 11 saves, will be one of Pepperdine’s pitchers. Shortstop Danny Worth batted .310 and had 38 RBIs. Centerfielder Adam Ortiz hit .340.

Frank Cruz, a graduate of Santa Monica High, is beginning his 11th season as the Loyola coach. He’ll have 6-foot-6 pitcher Brad Meyers, who had an 8-4 record last season.

Andy Beal, a starter a year ago, is scheduled to pitch in relief.

Pepperdine, USF and San Diego made the NCAA Tournament last year – the first time the conference had three berths. However, perennially strong Loyola didn’t qualify.

Citing improved depth, Cruz is optimistic the Lions will be stronger this year.

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