At 12-0, Southern California is off to its best start since 1988 and among four unbeaten teams in Division I. Yet the Trojans' highest ranking this week is No. 20, and they don't appear in two of the major polls.
Voters aren't impressed that nine of the 12 wins have come against Towson, Oakland and Fordham, which have a combined record of 1-23. The other three wins were against Cal State Fullerton, Kentucky and Fresno State, which are a combined 18-13.
"I think people have their perceptions of this team, and that's fine," coach Dan Hubbs said Monday. "Had we gotten into regionals last year like we thought we should, it might be a different conversation. But we're comfortable being the team that's overlooked and having to go out and put it on the field."
A lot will be learned about USC this week. First up Tuesday is a visit to UC Santa Barbara, ranked as high as No. 18. Then comes this weekend's Dodger Stadium Baseball Classic, where the Trojans face a TCU team ranked No. 1 in one poll, a Vanderbilt team that's No. 1 in three polls and a UCLA team that's No. 4 in two polls.
The Trojans returned most of the club that went 29-24 for the program's first above-.500 record since 2005. A season-ending series win against top-ranked Oregon State had them believing they would make the NCAA tournament.
"Not getting in was a punch in the gut," Hubbs said. "When we came back to practice, I could tell the kids had a renewed sense of urgency."
Catcher Garrett Stubbs is batting .429 to lead a balanced offense. No. 1 starter Brent Wheatley (1-0, 2.12 ERA) has 25 strikeouts in 17 innings. Closer Kyle Davis, who was expected to be the No. 1 starter until injuring an ankle last fall, has five saves.
"We haven't had to rely on one person to get it all done," Hubbs said. "The kids flat-out believe they can win."
A look around the nation:
BIGGIO'S SON LEADS IRISH: Notre Dame has won nine in a row during its 10-1 start. Second baseman Cavan Biggio is batting .525 with seven doubles and two homers. He's the son of retired Houston Astros great Craig Biggio, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in January.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN SWEEPS: Georgia Southern won three consecutive one-run games to sweep Georgia for the first time since 1993 and win the series for the fourth year in a row. Jason Richman earned two of the wins, striking out 14 in 9.1 innings over the three games.
NO-HITTERS: Alex Robinett pitched the fifth no-hitter in Army history, striking out 10 in a 1-0 victory against Longwood on Saturday. Long Beach State's Chris Mathewson and Darren McCaughan on Sunday combined for the first no-hitter in school history in a 4-0 win against Wichita State.
MATUELLA'S BRIEF RETURN: Top prospect Michael Matuella of Duke, who missed his start the previous weekend because of arm stiffness, worked one inning against Rider on Sunday. Matuella, who was on a pitch count, worked out of a bases-loaded jam after allowing consecutive singles to open the game.
ROBICHAUX WINS 1,000: Louisiana-Lafayette's Tony Robichaux became the 17th active Division I coach to win 1,000 games. He reached the milestone with Saturday's 6-5 victory against Alabama. "The important thing to me is that all of these wins have come at a mid-major school, and we have had to claw and fight for every one of them," he said.
This article was written by Eric Olson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.