No. 23 Stanford is coming off a marquee moment and the Trojans will have to try to stop their losing skid.Last week, Stanford (15-9) head coach Mark Marquess earned his 1,600th win in a 8-4 victory over Cal. Meanwhile, the Trojans (15-12) have lost four straight games, scoring only six runs across them.Despite their records going in opposite directions, the Trojans have more wins in Pac-12 play, 4-to-3 against the Cardinal.The struggle to score is still plaguing the Trojans. The team has been unable to use free passes from errors such as being hit by pitches or walked to their advantage, often stranding runners.It is a dramatic difference from the team of the beginning of the season that won its first games against Coppin State and Wake Forest in blowouts. Back then, the Trojans’ pitching had been weaker, but the offense saved them. Now the pitching is stronger, giving up fewers runs than some of their earlier losses. However, the offense has been dormant with runners on.Freshman Chris Clarke will most likely start on the mound for the Trojans on Thursday. He took a beating in his last outing, but has otherwise proven to be a strong spot in the rotation, especially given the loss of junior Mitch Hart.The rotation against Stanford will change for USC as the team attempts to make adjustments. Previously, junior Brad Wegman (2-2) had been the No. 2 starter. However, sophomore CJ Stubbs took over his role last week and Wegman has been switched to long relief. Wegman seems to have had more success there, tossing three scoreless innings against Arizona on Saturday and a scoreless inning against Long Beach State on Tuesday.Sophomore Marrick Crouse is still the No. 3 starter. With Stubbs’ promotion, however, junior Mason Perryman has taken over the duties of being the No. 4 starter. Freshman Connor Lunn has also success coming out of the bullpen, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings against Long Beach State in relief of Perryman.Luckily for the Trojans, USC boasts a better record at home (11-5) while Stanford has struggled on the road, going 3-for-4 while visiting opponents.Of all the teams in the Pac-12, Stanford ranks last in runs scored and runs batted in, which is good news for the Trojan pitching staff. If the Trojans score even a handful of runs, they should be in decent shape to win the game.“Our pitching has been doing well, so we’re hoping they can keep doing that and trying to get those timely hits,” redshirt junior Frankie Rios said. “We haven’t been hitting so well lately.”The series will be a good chance for the Trojans to regain their confidence in bringing in runners in scoring position.One troublesome aspect of batting for USC has been the number of strikeouts the team allows on offense. They are second in the Pac-12 in strikeouts, which is not aiding their struggle to score.The Trojans will face Stanford in a three-game series starting Thursday at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field.
For US-based Ghana coach Robert Sackey, new Hearts of Oak new coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi is not the right person for the job.The announcement of the Japanese-American has been met with mixed reviews. The major concern which cuts across has been how relatively unkown Kenichi is and how college football cannot be compared to higher level soccer.A lof of the points are valid, but certain facts might be well remembered.For many Ghanaians, we should not forget Mariano Barreto and Milovan Rajevac were both subjected to such scrutiny when appointed but proved beyond doubt they were worth every penny.Soccer is a universal game hence it comes as no surprise a South American excels in Europe and an African in Asia.Coaching is very similar and the most important bit of it is about getting the best out of your players mentally, physically and tactically as well as being clear with your ideas. For Hearts, there could be specific reasons for the appointment of Kenichi. The experienced Herbert Addo came and was below standard, the young C.K Akunnor came and failed, David Duncan’s case is still a mystery yet to be unraveled while Paa Kwesi Fabin could not stay for too long.So why the gamble of the Japanese-American?1. Possible guidance or tutoring of youngstersThe Hearts team is currently filled with youngsters who could potentially blossom into big name stars given the right guidance.Sarbah Laryea, Fatau Mohammed, Isaac Mensah, Issah Mumuni, Paul Acquah and Kenneth Okoro all showed flashes of brilliance during the course of last season but inexperience was always their biggest flaw. Having a coach who specializes in youth football could possibly be the catalyst to a successful career. With the right guidance and coaching, these players could possibly be Black Stars materials in the not-too distant future. This move should further justify the appointment of Yaw Preko as his assistant. The former Black Stars winger has been with the Black Satellites for a couple of years now and he alongside Sellas Tetteh have been scouting the country for talents and coaching them. If both Kenichi and Preko work in tandem, these youngsters could terrorize most of the Premier League clubs in the country.–2. Structured team and youth systemIt is no secret that the conveyor belt for youthful talent production is non existent Hearts of Oak. Auroras, the youth team, is as good as dead. Not even the introduction of the reserves league could generate any big name for the club. For a club who have not been in the best financial situations, reliance on youth production will be a sure bet to reduce their excessive spending.Coughing huge sums of money to clubs for the services of their players will be drastically reduced. In hiring the Japanese-American the club will be hoping a reliable youth team will be put in placed with players constantly knocking on the doors of the first team.–3. Opportunity Cost Hearts were clearly torn between paying for an experienced coach and going for an inexperienced manager who could well have the potential.For the experienced coach, Hearts were going to cough out a substantial sum of money while the inexperienced coach was going to go for a relatively cheaper cost. The alternative forgone in Kenichi’s appointment is the high cost and experience of a big name manager. It comes as no surprise Swedish Tom Strand, who was their prime target, was ditched at the last moment due to his high demands.This is a clear gamble for the Phobians who are reportedly going to pay Kenichi in the region of $1800 per month.All in all, every appointment of a coach is certainly a gamble. The most important bit now is for Phobians to get behind the new manager and hope for the best. It will be a massive feather in the cap of the Heart’s management should the Japanese-American lead the club to league glory. Anything short of that and he is sure to incur the wrath of the usually wild and impatient fans.All the best Kenichi!*CLICK TO READ: Kenichi’s first day at work [PHOTOS]–Follow Kweku on Twitter: @nana_odum. Get more updates on Facebook/Twitter with the #JoySports hashtag.