By the time you are reading this, March Madness will officially be in the books and college basketball will have a new champion after capturing America’s attention for the past few weeks. If you’re like me, and you’re wondering what you’re going to do with your life now that the tournament is over, don’t worry because Monday officially kicked off the 2015 baseball season.The USC baseball team has experienced success so far this season, and here’s to hoping the Dodgers can experience similar success and finally make it deep into the playoffs. Whether you’re a Dodger fan or not, America’s favorite pastime is back, and there are so many teams to look out for this season.At the bottom of my list of teams to watch is the Houston Astros. I admit that the only reason the ‘Stros even made the list is because of my personal ties to the team, but things are looking up for them this season, and maybe they won’t finish dead last this year. The recent move to the American League has been anything but easy for Houston, but they’ve added some depth to the bullpen and defense. Second baseman Jose Altuve returns and looks to carry last season’s offensive success into 2015. By putting this team on my list, I mean that they might hit a .500 record this year.Another team that has been somewhat quiet lately — by their standards, of course — is the New York Yankees. The Yankees are a veteran team that will now be without a captain. The team’s age raises a lot of concerns regarding injury, especially in the pitching rotation. Probably the biggest headline for the Yankees is the return of Alex Rodriguez from a yearlong suspension. I don’t think the Yankees will be a huge threat this season, but they are the Yankees and could definitely prove me wrong.The Detroit Tigers enter 2015 on the hunt for their fifth-straight AL Central title. The pitching rotation has taken a blow due to injuries. Even Justin Verlander will be hampered due to a strained tricep. Though the pitching rotation has suffered some blows, the offense should remain strong enough to give the Tigers a chance at the playoffs.The Pittsburgh Pirates have emerged in the past couple seasons as playoff contenders and look to continue their playoff streak this season. They don’t have quite the potential that they had last season, but if they can successfully overcome injuries they could make a run for the postseason.The San Diego Padres are definitely a team on the rise, especially after the offseason they had. They added former Dodgers star Matt Kemp on the offense, and closer Craig Kimbrel from the Atlanta Braves. They have to compete in a tough NL West Division against the Dodgers and Giants, but if their offseason additions pan out, they could make a run for the NL West title.The Los Angeles Angels are a force to be reckoned with, even if they have to play without Josh Hamilton. The combination of reigning American League MVP Mike Trout and Albert Pujols should more than make up for Hamilton’s absence. Their offense will be enough to carry whatever their defense lacks.The Angels’ crosstown rivals, the Dodgers, look to reclaim their NL West title. The one-two punch of NL MVP and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke lead the pitching rotation. Behind them is explosive outfielder Yasiel Puig and new addition Joc Pederson, along with shortstop Jimmy Rollins.Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t going anywhere and seem to be Kershaw’s achilles’ heel. The Cardinals have a dominant offense headlined by Jason Heyward and a bullpen led by Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals have made a strong postseason showing the past few seasons and could finally make the push to the World Series this season.A record 115 players begin the season on the disabled list, and unfortunately for the reigning champions, Hunter Pence is one of the 115. Their rotation behind Madison Bumgarner is aging quickly, but no one thought the Giants would make it deep into the postseason last year, and they took home the title.Yesterday was day one of a long season, and as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen.Regan Estes is a sophomore majoring in public relations and Spanish. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column “Wild Wild Westes,” runs on Tuesdays.
Built Ford tough · Freshman outside hitter Alyse Ford has emerged as a force for the Women of Troy offense, averaging just under three kills per set. – Tal Volk | Daily TrojanThe No. 1-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (22-0, 10-0 Pac-12) is back on the road this weekend, starting the second half of their conference schedule by visiting No. 5-ranked Washington (18-2, 8-2) on Friday in Seattle before heading over to the Palouse to face Washington State (14-8, 3-7) on Sunday.The Women of Troy are the lone undefeated team in the nation and are off to the fourth best start in program history. However, head coach Mick Haley knows that winning streak will be put to the test against the Huskies and the Cougars.“It’s a hard schedule this year going to the Pacific Northwest back to back. We just got back from Oregon, and now we’re off to Seattle,” Haley said. “And it’s always a trap game when you play Washington first and you go to Pullman second, so you really have to be on your game to win two on the road this weekend.”After two road victories against the Oregon schools last week, USC will square off in a rematch against another top-5 opponent in Washington. The last time these two teams met, USC pulled out a thrilling 3-1 victory at the Galen Center and snapped the Huskies’ 13-match winning streak. Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio had 27 kills and three aces to lead USC in that match, while fellow senior Alicia Ogoms added 12 kills and six blocks.Playing in Seattle has been a different story, however, as Alaska Airlines Arena has not been kind to the Women of Troy. USC has gone just 1-9 over the last 10 games in Seattle, dating back to 2004.“They’re chomping at the bit to get back at us, and it’ll be their home match, so we’ll have to be really good,” Haley said. “I think this is probably going to be one of the more important matches of the year for both teams.”Playing Washington State on Sunday will also be a challenge for USC, as the Cougars have pushed the Women of Troy to five sets in Pullman in each of the last two years.“Washington State always plays well at home, and they always play us tough. We would expect nothing less than their best efforts,” Haley said.Still, the Women of Troy lead the all-time series, 47-13, and have won 9 of the last 10 meetings.The fast-paced Women of Troy offense will be headlined by the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in Bricio, who leads USC with 5.07 kills per set and 0.76 aces per set. She has also found a formidable counterpart in freshman Alyse Ford, who has come on strong as of late. The 5-foot-10 pin hitter has strung together a number of impressive matches over the last three weeks and upped her season averages to 2.99 kills per set, second highest on the team, with a .299 hitting percentage.On defense, USC will be led by Ogoms and junior libero Taylor Whittingham, both of whom lead the Pac-12 with 1.58 blocks per set and 5.11 digs per set, respectively.Friday’s match against No. 5 Washington will tip off at 8 p.m. and will air on the Pac-12 Networks, while Sunday’s match against Washington State is set for 12:30 p.m.
Ghana defender Baba Abdul Rahman has signed a five-year contract with German Bundesliga side Augsburg after a successful medical on Tuesday.The deal was sealed a day after he bagged a brace for his Bundesliga II side Greuther Furth in 5-1 win over Nurnberg.Rahman will begin training with Augsburg on Wednesday and has been handed the number 12 shirt.The 20-year-old will be returning to the top-flight league after his Greuther Furth got relegated two seasons ago.“I am glad that the transfer worked out, because I again get the chance to play in the Bundesliga,” Rahman said.“I am sure that the FCA is a very big opportunity for me to develop here.” He played 20 Bundesliga matches for SpVgg Greuther Fürth in the 2012-13 season.