Matt Jepsen, who pitched for Fallbrook High School for the past years, will be wearing a Willamette University uniform in 2014.
Willamette is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III school in Salem, Oregon. NCAA Division III teams do not offer athletic scholarships, but Jepsen will attend Willamette on an academic scholarship and a leadership scholarship.
“He’s going to be a great addition to our program,” said Willamette coach Aaron Swick. “Looking for him to come on and make us better on the mound.”
Jepsen had a cumulative 4.02 grade point average while at Fallbrook High School and graduated 20th in his class. “Ever since I was little, the whole dream was to play college baseball,” he said. “I can be happy with the way I’m ending up at the university I am at.”
Jepsen also considered Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon), Sacramento State, and Cal Lutheran before choosing Willamette. “I went up there and I visited the school and I was really happy with how it was,” he said.
“Everything was so close and I really enjoyed my coach, Coach Swick,” Jepsen said. “I was really happy with how he focused his priorities.”
Jepsen was both a pitcher and an outfielder for the Warriors. He will pitch for Willamette. “The big factor was I was going to be able to pitch my freshman year,” he said of choosing Willamette. “I was going to be able to go right in and have an impact on the team.”
Salem is about a 15-hour drive from Fallbrook. “It is something new to me that I’m willing to try,” he said. “Fallbrook is all I’ve known my entire life up until this point.”
Jepsen will major in mathematics and economics. If his baseball career ends at the college level he plans to become a certified public accountant.
“Good spot for Matt,” said Fallbrook coach Mark DiBenedetti. “He’s got a great opportunity at that college.”
Willamette is in the Northwest Conference. The Bearcats posted a 13-11 conference record in 2013 and a 20-20 overall record.
“This is Oregon baseball. It’s outstanding,” DiBenedetti said.
“I look for him to have an opportunity to grow,” DiBenedetti said. “I look for great things.”
Jepsen, the first Fallbrook High School baseball player to make the varsity as a freshman since Clark Murphy in 2005, was a four-year letterman at Fallbrook High School. “You don’t see a lot of that,” DiBenedetti said.
“My first goal was to make varsity as a freshman going into high school,” Jepsen said.
Jepsen threw one-hitters both in 2012 and in 2013. His favorite high school memory, however, was his first high school start when he was a freshman. Fallbrook defeated San Pasqual by a 2-1 score in 10 innings in that April 16, 2010, game at San Pasqual. Jepsen allowed one run and three hits in eight innings.
In 2012, Jepsen was named to the Avocado East League second team. His 20 runs batted in led the Warriors and he also had a .314 average with 27 hits, two doubles, a home run, and seven runs scored. On the mound, he was 3-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 37 2/3 innings pitched. He faced 166 batters as a junior, walking only eight of them while striking out 49. Seven of his eight mound appearances were starts, and all three of his complete games were shutouts.
As a Fallbrook High School senior Jepsen played in 28 games, including 14 mound appearances. At the plate, he led the team with 14 runs batted in, and he also had 10 runs scored, 21 hits in 85 at-bats for a .247 average, four doubles, two home runs, two sacrifice bunts, four stolen bases, seven walks drawn, a .312 on-base percentage, and a .365 slugging percentage. In his 12 starts and two relief appearances on the mound, he posted a 3-8 record with two saves and a 2.96 earned run average in 52 innings. He allowed 55 hits, 20 walks, and 22 earned runs while striking out 52. Jepsen threw two complete games, both of which were shutouts.
“Matt is a very smart baseball player, a smart pitcher,” DiBenedetti said.
“He’s going to improve,” Swick said.
Jepsen is the youngest of three children, all boys. His parents both attended Vista High School. His father, Dean, wrestled as a freshman. His mother, Jennifer, was a cheerleader. His brother Cori, the middle son, played lacrosse at Fallbrook High School.
Jepsen, a lifelong Fallbrook resident, was born at Fallbrook Hospital and attended William H. Frazier Elementary School, La Paloma Elementary School, and Potter Junior High School as well as Fallbrook High School.
‘Jepsen played six years of Fallbrook Youth Baseball. He began playing travel ball at the age of 10 with the North County Cougars. His coach with the Cougars, Greg Posein, now coaches Team Rip. Jepsen joined Posein with Team Rip and played for Posein for eight years. “Coach Greg was the reason why I am playing college baseball,” Jepsen said. “He definitely made me the baseball player that I am today.”
Jepsen’s baseball activity also includes coaching at a Fallbrook High School camp. His non-baseball projects have included working on the senior class homecoming float, helping with the school’s registration week activities, and volunteering at the Fallbrook Food Pantry and for food drives. He also volunteered at the 2011 car wash which raised funds for injured junior varsity baseball player Ryan Stewart, who joined Jepsen on the Warrior varsity this year.
“He’s an outstanding student and an outstanding person,” Swick said.
“Matt’s a tremendous student,” DiBenedetti said. “I’m really excited for him.”
Jepsen noted that many of his Fallbrook High School teammates also played Fallbrook Youth Baseball and travel ball together. “It was fun growing up and playing with the same kids for my entire life,” he said. “We’re going to the next level, but we’re going our separate directions.”