May 5, 2006
by Kyle McRae
Senior pitcher Matt Manship has just about seen it all at Stanford.
"I think I've been in just about every situation possible," he explains. "I've pitched everywhere from the national championship to JV games in practice."
He spent most of his first three seasons at Stanford as a closer, racking up nine saves as a freshman and 17 in his career to rank tied for fourth and tied for second on Stanford's single-season and career lists, respectively.
Manship made 65 of his first 68 appearances over his first three years at Stanford out of the bullpen, including a stellar junior campaign in which he posted a 2-0 record with five saves and an 0.80 ERA while making all 22 of his outings in relief. Manship punctuated his season with an incredible performance at the NCAA Waco Regional when he earned saves on both ends of a doubleheader sweep of Texas-San Antonio and TCU, retiring all 17 batters he faced.
"Omaha was great," said the San Antonio native as he reminisced about his freshman season and started to grin. "But, anytime I can pitch in Texas and do well, those are the moments I remember most. There's nothing like beating people from home."
Despite his outstanding season and tremendous finish last year, Manship went undrafted in the 2005 MLB First-Year Player Draft last June.
"I was very confused and wasn't sure what happened, but I got over it and moved on pretty quickly," he said. "It was not difficult to come back here, because I love this place."
When he did return to The Farm for his senior campaign he found the Cardinal looking for an experienced veteran to move into the weekend rotation after the departure of the team's top two starting pitchers from a year ago.
Manship seemed to fit the bill.
"I felt it was a reward because I would get more innings," he commented. "I was very excited, because it was a great position to be in."
But, it was also a new position and Manship struggled at times, posting just a 1-5 record and a 5.48 ERA in his first 11 starts before being moved back to the bullpen last weekend.
He responded with a tremendous outing last Sunday when he held Arizona State to just one run over the final 5.0 innings to get the victory.
Manship and the Cardinal hope his recent performance versus the Sun Devils that helped Stanford wrap up a critical series victory is a sign of things to come during a season that has been difficult for the Cardinal to this point.
Despite a 20-20 overall record and 5-10 Pac-10 mark that has the Cardinal in last-place in the Pac-10, Manship still feels Stanford has a chance to move on to the postseason for the 13th straight season with a strong finish.
"If that ends up being the case, we'll be as hot as anybody," explained Manship. "From the way we played earlier this season against teams like Cal State Fullerton and Texas, or versus Arizona State last weekend, it's pretty evident we would be a hard team to beat."
Should Stanford be able to post a 7-2 record over its final nine Pac-10 games, the Cardinal would end up with the same 12-12 conference mark the team had last season.
"The nice thing about an NCAA Regional berth is that it's like a new beginning," he continued. "It doesn't matter what type of season you've had; it's a fresh start."
Manship would love to get that one more crack at making it back to Omaha.
"I definitely took it for granted," he recalled about his lone trip to college baseball's promised land during his freshman season. "I figured that it was the first of many times we would be there. I did not realize it would be that hard."
Whether or not he gets back to Omaha one more time, Manship wants to make sure he leaves his mark on the Stanford Baseball program he loves dearly.
"I want to inspire the younger guys and guide them in the right direction both on and off the field," he emphasizes. "If they need anything, I'm there."
Manship feels that his experience at Stanford has done just that for him.
"The biggest thing that has helped me is that because Stanford is so demanding, I have become a much more organized and hard-working person, and that should carry over to any facet of life," Manship commented. "I feel like an adult right now, and I did not feel that way coming in."