By Gregg Bell
UW Athletics Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- The reborn Huskies keep on rising.
After their sixth conference series win in six sets this season, and first series win at California in eight years, the Huskies (27-8-1, 14-4 Pac-12) are at their highest spot ever in Baseball America's top 25: seventh.
UW is also up four spots to ninth in the latest USA Today’s coaches’ poll. The Huskies are now No. 5 in the Collegiate Baseball rankings and seventh in rankings released Monday by the scouting service Perfect Game USA. Their No. 11 ranking by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, up four spots from 15, is the Huskies only ranking outside the top-10 in the five major polls.
Washington has won 25 of 30 games. A 7-1 loss Saturday at Cal, almost startling in these heady Dawg days, prevented UW’s first sweep in Berkeley since 2002.
The Huskies lead the Pac-12 by 1½ games over Oregon State (27-7, 11-4). The Beavers, who have won two national championships in the last eight years, are ranked fifth by Baseball America entering Oregon State’s series this weekend against hot Oregon.
The Huskies, 11-2 on the road, play Seattle University (17-18) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Bannerwood Park in suburban Bellevue. It’s a schedule switch, with the May 13 Seattle U.-UW game to be played at Husky Ballpark.
Then the Huskies host Washington State (17-19, 7-8) on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The games will be televised by Pac-12 Networks. WSU got swept in three games at Oregon last weekend.
Another measure of how good the Huskies have been: Oregon (31-10, 10-5) has won nine consecutive games since UW won two of three over the Ducks at Husky Ballpark April 4-6.
The Huskies’ formula remains improved, timely hitting for average and for power. That has backed a stingy pitching staff and one of the better defenses in the nation, gloves that are emboldening UW pitchers to throw more strikes at bats for more balls in play and lower pitch counts. Washington leads the Pac-12 is batting average (.292) and home runs (17) -- the latter are seven more homers than UW had all last season.
And how about Brian Wolfe? The senior outfielder leads the conference with a gaudy .404 average and .596 slugging percentage — and that’s while playing the last couple weeks with a thumb injury he sustained March 30 at USC. He’s been hitting with a specially fitted brace. Wolfe, a two-time Pac-12 player of the week this season, is tied with teammate Robert Pehl for second-most home runs in the league (four).