With a year under his belt in the Western Athletic Conference, Carson High graduate Darrell Rasner said he's a stronger and wiser pitcher coming into this season for the University of Nevada.
After a freshman season in which he went 14-2 pitching in the Big West Conference, Rasner came back to post an 8-5 record last year against tougher competition in the WAC.
The 6-4, 215-pound junior right-hander led Nevada in games started (17), innings pitched (113.2), strikeouts (96) and earned run average (4.20).
"I felt good," said Rasner about his performance last season. "The WAC's a little bit difference conference than the Big West. In my opinion, it's a tougher conference through and through.
"We have a better feel for these teams. We know how they play."
Rasner said he worked on his strength during the off season. "I think that's going to give me more endurance and more speed," said Rasner, commenting on the velocity of his pitches. "I'm looking forward to the season."
Rasner's strength on the mound is his command of his pitches as was demonstrated by his strikeout to walk ratio last year that was more than 2-1 (96-41).
"We have a great team with great defense," Rasner said. "If I walk guys, I put them in a bad situation. I want to throw a good pitch every time."
With three starting pitchers and seven starting position players returning, expectations are high this year with the Wolf Pack. There's even talk that Nevada can make a run at the College World Series.
"We just have to take it one step at a time," Rasner said. "We just have to prove ourselves. We do have the talent. We've got a lot of older guys on the staff.
"Everybody meshes well together this year. Everything's going really well for everybody. I think we're getting a lot done out there."
Rasner has been chosen to the all-WAC preseason team. "It's a great honor," he said.
"I have to go out there and prove myself just like everybody else. I just have to do the things I need to do."
Nevada opens the season Feb. 1 at Pepperdine and Rasner made it clear he wants to be the opening day starter.
"I do want to be the ace of the staff," he said. "I just want to do anything I can for the team.
"I just want to do the best I can for my team. I just want to win as many games as I can for the team."
That means right from the start of the season. Rasner doesn't want to repeat last year when he got off to a slow start.
"I want to start off on the right foot," he said. "Everybody's looking forward to Pepperdine. We need to get things going right away this year."
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.