NORTHRIDGE, CA—After an impressive debut season in 2015, junior right-handed pitcher Conner O’Neil has earned a 2016 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Preseason All-American Third Team honor. O’Neil (3-2) appeared in 28 games as a sophomore and emerged as the team’s closer, saving 12 games, posting a 1.89 ERA and fanning 64 batters en route to earning Big West Conference Honorable Mention.
A transfer from Central Arizona College and hailing from Kennewick, WA, O’Neil wasted little time making his mark on the mound last season. In his Matador debut, the hurler saved the first game of his CSUN career with a shutout frame against Utah Valley on Feb. 13. Throughout the season, a similar scenario would take shape as O’Neil racked up save after save. On May 16, he pitched a shutout frame at Washington to set a new CSUN record for saves in a season.
With just one season under his belt, O’Neil is fourth all-time in school history in career saves. He needs only three more saves to become CSUN’s all-time career save leader.
O’Neil made three starts during the season including pitching 6.1 shutout innings against Grand Canyon on Feb. 24. He also pitched in short and long relief in stretches in 2015. At Fresno State, O’Neil tossed 6.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out a career-high eight in a 16-inning marathon.
Along with O’Neil, UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura was the only other Big West Conference representative on the preseason list.
The Matadors kick off the 2016 season on Feb. 19 against CSU Bakersfield at Matador Field. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.