Last season: 47-18 (21-9 Pac-12); reached CWS
Final ranking: No. 3
Coach (record at school): David Esquer (182-72, five seasons)
The good news: Stanford returns two-thirds of its 2022 lineup that led the Pac-12 in RBI (455) and home runs (118), while having the second highest batting average (.309). Its top power hitter Carter Graham (22 home runs), second leading hitter Tommy Troy (.339) and star two-way player Braden Montgomery all return to Palo Alto and will anchor the Cardinal lineup this spring. Nearly the entire Cardinal pitching staff returns as well, including lefthanders Quinn Mathews, Ryan Bruno and Drew Dowd. Esquer also managed to keep his entire 2022 recruiting class intact. Ranked No. 21 nationally despite having just nine newcomers, catcher Malcolm Moore figures to make an immediate impact following a strong fall, while righthander Nick Dugan will log meaningful innings on the bump.
The bad news: Although this is a club that boasts loads of experience and a strong freshmen class, it must fill a gaping hole in the middle of the field left by the departures of center fielder Brock Jones, shortstop Adam Crampton and catcher Kody Huff to the draft. Stanford has options to replace Jones in center field, including Eddie Park, who started in left field last year, or redshirt freshman Saborn Campbell. Replacing the defense of Crampton is a tough task, but sophomore Trevor Haskins has the defensive tools for the position. Sophomore Charlie Saum and Moore will compete to replace Huff, with the two likely splitting time behind the dish this spring. Alex Williams is a notable loss on the mound, but with no shortage of returning arm talent it is a hole that should be filled rather easily.
Player to know: Drew Bowser, 3B.
A 6-foot-4 slugger who more than looks the part, Bowser has manned the hot corner from the moment he stepped on campus. This year will be no different. Last spring, Bowser tapped into the raw power everyone knew he possessed by hitting 18 home runs, but it didn’t come without cost—he struck out in nearly one-third of his at-bats, struggling particularly against spin. However, with a refined hit tool and continued defensive improvement, Bowser could be a huge factor in a loaded Cardinal lineup.
Path to Omaha: Stanford has all of the ingredients to get to Omaha for the third time in as many seasons and win its first national championship since 1988. Between a deep pitching staff, a talented lineup that returns the majority of its…