February 16, 1999
THIS WEEK: The 23rd-ranked Washington Huskies (3-0) continue the 1999 season with a trip to Cal State Northridge (8-8) this weekend. The Dawgs, who posted a 3-0 record last weekend at the Dixie Tournament in St. George, Utah, open the three-game series Friday at 2:00 p.m. at Matador Field. Saturday and Sunday, UW takes on the Matadors in 1:00 p.m. games. The following weekend, the Huskies travel to Las Vegas to participate in the UNLV/Coors Desert Classic. The UW will take on Creighton and Clemson on Feb. 25, Nevada on Feb. 26, host UNLV on Feb. 27 and the 28th, the Huskies close it out against Creighton. Here's a look at this weekend's games, with the projected starting pitchers:
Fri., Feb. 19: UW vs. CS Northridge, Matador Field, 2:00 p.m. -- RHP Jeff Heaverlo (0-0, 6.23)
Sat., Feb. 20: UW vs. CS Northridge, Matador Field, 1:00 p.m. -- RHP Travis Anderson (0-0, 7.20)
Sun., Feb. 21: UW vs. CS Northridge, Matador Field, 1:00 p.m. -- RHP Jeff Carlsen (1-0, 3.60)
PAC-10 NEW ERA: The 1999 season marks a new era in Pacific-10 Conference baseball as the league returns to a unified, one-division schedule after spending the past 30 seasons broken into northern and southern divisions. The change, which would probably have come in the next few years anyway, was hastened after Portland State dropped its baseball program last June. That left the Northern Division with only three teams, too few to make a division. This year, the nine Pac-10 teams (Oregon doesn't have a baseball team) will play a 24-game schedule, with the regular season champion earning the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. For the last four seasons, the winners of the two divisions met in a three-game series for the Pac-10's overall title. After USC won the 1995 and 1996 titles, Washington went on to wear the 1997 and 1998 Pac-10 crowns.
COACH "K": In six-plus seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and three NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 229-132 (.634). With those 229 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in Washington history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422) and having passed legendary Tubby Graves (209), who coached 24 seasons. Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 102-28 (.785) record in home games. He is 111-51 (.685) in conference games, the highest mark (percentage-wise) of any active Pac-10 coach. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistant coaches Joe Ross, Ed Gustafson, Joe Weis and Brett Merrick.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with current stats and notes:
C -- Dominic Woody, Jr. .556-2-5 Career .327 hitter/UW 17-5 when he started last year
C -- Jake Gann, RS-Fr. .000-0-0 All-State C/P at Eastmont HS in Wenatchee
1B -- Ed Erickson, Jr. .333-2-4 24 HRs are 4th in school history -- 6 shy of record
2B -- Marc Rittenhouse, So. .444-0-3 Has batted .321 (25-for-78) over his last 27 games
SS -- Greg Brooks, So. .273-0-3 Backed up 3-time All-Pac-10 SS Kevin Miller in 1998
3B -- Kevin Ticen, Sr. .417-1-4 Co-captain/moving from C to 3B/.369 career hitter
OF -- Nick Stefonick, Sr. .500-3-10 19-game hitting streak -- .470 (39-83), 25 runs, 36 rbi
OF -- Bryan Williamson, Sr. .143-0-0 Will also DH and relieve/Drafted twice ('95 and '98)
OF -- Kyle Woods, Jr. .200-0-1 14 homers last year were second-most in UW history
OF -- Tyson Boston, So. .273-0-3 Five starts as freshman in 1998/2 starts last weekend
OF -- Dwight DeMar, Jr. .000-0-0 Top pinch runner and defensive replacement in 1998
OF -- Matt Hollod, RS-Fr. .000-0-0 Batted .320 in Northwoods League over summer
DH -- Pete Orgill, Sr. .400-0-4 Co-captain/17 career HRs are eighth in UW history
DH -- Daniel Jahn, So. .000-0-0 Also a left-handed pitcher/batted .390 in summer ball
TRAVEL INFORMATION: The Huskies depart the Graves Building for the airport Thursday, Feb. 18, at about 3:30 p.m. and fly to Los Angeles. In the L.A. area, the Huskies will stay at the Hilton in Woodland Hills. The phone number there is (818) 595-1000 and the fax is (818) 596-4578. The team returns to Seattle Sunday evening, Feb. 21, arriving at Sea-Tac Airport at 9:09 p.m.
SERIES HISTORIES: Washington and Cal State Northridge have met only twice ever. The first meeting was early in 1970 during a UW trip to Southern California, with the Matadors winning, 10-4. The only other UW game against Northridge was in 1997 at the Rainbow Easter Tournament in Hawaii. Due to rain, the game was played over two days, with the Huskies scoring seven runs in the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning to win, 12-11. The two clubs will meet again later this season when the Matadors come to Husky Ballpark for a three-game series April 16-18.
LAST WEEK: Washington posted a perfect 3-0 record at the Dixie Tournament in St. George, Utah. Thursday, the Dawgs took a 12-1 lead on Brigham Young, then withstood a comeback to win, 14-13. Kevin Ticen and Ed Erickson homered and Pete Orgill drove in four on 2-for-3 hitting. Daniel Jahn got the win in relief. Friday, the Huskies prevailed with a 16-13 win over Southern Utah when Nick Stefonick capped a six-run bottom of the ninth with a two-out homer. The T-Birds had led four different times in the game, only to lose the lead each time. Dominic Woody went 3-for-3 with two homers and five RBI. Saturday, Stefonick homered in his first two at bats to lead Washington to an 8-7 win over BYU. Stefonick, the tournament MVP, went 4-for-4 with five RBI and starter Jeff Carlsen threw five four-hit innings for the win. Matt Massingale got a double play ball to end the game and earn his second save of the weekend.
DOMINATING THE NORTHWEST: If there was any question about the Huskies' recent dominance of college baseball in the Pacific Northwest, it was quelled last season when the Huskies won their fifth Pac-10 North title in the 1990s and won its second Pac-10 overall championship. In the 1990s, Washington has made four NCAA Regional appearances, more than any team from the Northwest. During the current decade, the Huskies have posted a 325-194 (.626) overall record and a 155-73 (.680) mark in Pac-10 North play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 162-65 (.714) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 127-60 (.679) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest team (12) he has faced.
PRESEASON ACCOLADES: For the third straight season, Washington has earned a spot in the preseason polls. Baseball America ranks the Huskies No. 20, the Dawgs' highest spot in the three polls released thusfar. Baseball America also named Husky junior pitcher Jeff Heaverlo a first-team All-American, making him the first UW player to ever make that particular team, and named him the preseason Pac-10 pitcher of the year and the No. 5 college prospect. Baseball America also picked the Huskies to finish fourth in the Pac-10, named Kyle Woods the No. 10 prospect in the Pac-10 and No. 50 prospect in the nation and listed Travis Anderson as having the conference's best fastball. Anderson was also BA's No. 57 college prospect in the country. Collegiate Baseball named the Huskies the No. 24 team in the country and the Dawgs were ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches' Poll.
LET THERE BE LIGHTS: Along with the move into a unified Pac-10 and the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field from 48 to 64 teams -- not to mention the infamous bat controversy -- there's another new wrinkle for the Washington baseball program the year as lights will be installed at Husky Ballpark, allowing the Huskies to play their first night home games ever. The Huskies will play most weekday games at 6:30 p.m. (some are 2:00 p.m. games due to the opponents' travel needs), while Saturday and Sunday games are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Currently, 19 of the Huskies' 34 home games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. starts. The first-ever night game at Husky Ballpark is slated for March 12 against George Washington. Husky Ballpark is in its second year of existence, having opened at the start of last season. The stadium surrounding the new park is scheduled to be completed in the next few years.
STREAKING: Several Huskies are on hot streaks right now, most obviously outfielder Nick Stefonick. Stefonick enters the weekend on a 19-game hitting streak, only three short of tying Kevin Miller's school record of 22, set in 1997. Over the 19-game streak (which includes the final 16 games of last season), he has batted .470 (39-for-83) with 25 runs and 41 RBI. Stefonick has also hit safely in 28 of the last 29 games. Another Husky with a streak that continues from last season is junior first baseman Ed Erickson. Erickson has hit in 10 straight (.381; 16-for-42 with 13 runs, 17 RBI and six homers). He has six home runs in his last eight games. Two Huskies have more modest streaks going: senior third baseman Kevin Ticen has hit in all three games this season (.417; 5-for-12, four runs, four RBI) and sophomore second baseman Marc Rittenhouse, who went 0-for-0 with four walks, a sacrifice and a sac fly in the opener, has hit in two straight (.444; 4-for-9, five runs, three runs batted in). As a team, the Huskies have won 13 of their last 16 and 20 of their last 24.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Washington has been very tough at home in the 1990s, posting a mark of 143-40 (.781) over the last nine seasons. Under coach Ken Knutson, the Huskies have posted a remarkable 102-28 record in home games, good for a .785 mark. Last year, the Huskies moved into Husky Ballpark and notched a 23-6 (.793) record in those games. The 29 home games last season were the most ever in school history, a mark that should fall this year as the Dawgs are scheduled to play 34 home contests.
HEAVERLO: Thanks to a hard fastball and one of college baseball's nastiest sliders, junior Jeff Heaverlo has earned a national reputation as one of the country's best pitchers. Heaverlo, a right-hander from Ephrata, Wash., enters the season as one of the the NCAA's hottest prospects. In its college preview, Baseball America named him college's No. 5 draft prospect, a first-team preseason All-American and the Pac-10's preseason pitcher of the year. The magazine also said that "Heaverlo may be the most polished pitcher in college baseball." With 88 strikeouts as a freshman in 1997, 84 last year and six in 1999, he has two of the top five strikeout seasons in UW history and is 81 Ks shy of Jake Kringen's career mark. Heaverlo greatly improved his reputation over the summer when he was named the Cape Cod League's co-pitcher of the year after posting a 7-1 record with a 3.09 ERA and 94 Ks in 67 innings.
STEFONICK: If there was a player anywhere that finished the 1998 season on a hotter streak than Husky senior Nick Stefonick, that player must truly have been on fire. After all, Stefonick, an outfielder from Seattle, closed out his junior year with a 16-game hitting streak, a tear that covered the Pac-10 Championship and the NCAA Central Regional. Stefonick, who was batting .313 through 25 games, hit safely in 25 of his last 26, a span during which he hit .464 (52-for-112) with 31 runs, 43 RBI, 13 doubles, three triples and three homers. His final batting average of .407 was tops in the Pac-10 North and the second-highest in UW history, earning him a spot on the All-Pac-10 North first team. Last weekend at the Dixie Tournament, he earned MVP honors after extending his hitting streak to 19 games by going 6-for-12 with six runs, 10 RBI, two doubles and three home runs. Stefonick entered his senior season with a career .367 batting average and should, presumably, work his way onto the Huskies' career top 10 lists in doubles, runs, RBI, stolen bases and possibly hits.
WILLIAMSON: In its college preview edition, Baseball America called senior Bryan Williamson the Huskies' "X-Factor." It's not a bad description of the 6-foot-6 outfielder/pitcher from Kennewick, Wash. Williamson, the UW's most experienced player, is expected to start in right field, bat third in the batting order and serve as the Huskies' do-all relief pitcher -- all that from a guy that started only 23 games in the batting order and worked only 32.2 innings last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. A career .335 hitter, Williamson has twice been drafted (1995 and 1998). As a sophomore in 1997, he batted .381 with 58 RBI in 52 games and posted a 4-2 record with six saves and a 2.89 earned run average, earning a tryout with the USA National Team and a selection to the All-Pac-10 team. An excellent contact hitter with good power, he uses different arm angles and an array of pitches on the mound.
CARLSEN: At 6-foot-7, freshman right-hander Jeff Carlsen is the tallest member of the Husky roster, but that's not what makes him notable. Instead, Carlsen made a name for himself last season by acting as the most consistent member of the Husky pitching staff. The sophomore from Poulsbo, Wash., posted a 7-3 record and a 4.39 earned run average, best on the team among starters. He was the only freshman to be named to the All-Pac-10 North first-team while he also earned first-team freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball. On April 4 of last season, Carlsen hurled the most impressive game in recent UW history when he threw a one-hit shutout against Washington State. For that performance, he earned Pac-10 North Pitcher of the Week and TPX National Player of the Week. Last Saturday against BYU, Carlsen picked up a win with a five-inning, four-hit performance.
WOODS: Heading into last season, everyone knew that outfielder Kyle Woods had serious speed. What they may not have anticipated was the power he'd show in his first season as a full-time starter. Woods, a junior from Marysville, Wash., belted 14 home runs as a sophomore, the third-highest total (tied) in Washington history. Woods was twice named the Pac-10 North player of the week in 1998 and earned a tryout with the USA National Team after the season. Woods also stole 20 bases in 24 attempts, scored 48 runs and drove in 49. With 31 career steals, he needs only six more to reach the Husky career top 10 list. In its draft preview, Baseball America named him the nation's No. 50 college draft prospect this year.
NOTABLES: A former walkon, junior Travis Anderson will be counted on as a top starter this year . . . last year, he struck out 45 in 46 innings and opponents batted only .221 against him . . . through only two-plus seasons, junior first baseman Ed Erickson already ranks fourth on the UW career list with 24 home runs . . . he enters this weekend only six homers short of the UW record of 30 (Kevin Miller, 1996-98) . . . senior lefty Matt Hampton's 25 career starts are second to Heaverlo for most on the team . . . in 11 of his 25 appearances last year, sophomore reliever Matt Massingale did not allow a hit . . . this year, Massingale is 2-for-2 in save opportunities . . . co-captain Pete Orgill ranks eighth in UW history with 17 career HR . . . 10 of senior Kevin Ticen's 24 career hits have gone for extra bases . . . in 19 career starts at catcher, junior Dominic Woody has batted .422 (27-for-64) with 27 RBI and 20 runs . . . in all other games, he has hit .280 (28-for-100) . . . seven of Woody's nine career HR are as a starting catcher.
RANDOM NOTES: In all three games last weekend, the Huskies scored three runs in the first inning . . . two Huskies -- Dominic Woody and Nick Stefonick -- already have two-homer games in 1999 . . . until freshman Todd Linden pinch hit and made the final out of Saturday's BYU game, the Huskies hadn't used a true freshman in its first three games . . . freshman Richard Hall, who was a possible starter at shortstop, broke his left little finger in practice in January and will likely be out for one or two more weeks . . . Washington has broken the team home runs record in each of the last two seasons . . . prior to 1997, the school record for home runs was only 47, set in 1986 . . . in 1997, the Huskies belted 84 homers, and last season, they shattered that mark with 110 round-trippers, good for 14th in NCAA Division I . . . the Dawgs hit eight last weekend . . . the UW coaching staff includes three former All-Pac-10 North pitchers: head coach Ken Knutson (1981), assistant Ed Gustafson (1989 at WSU) and undergraduate assistant Brett Merrick (1994, 1995) . . . 33 of the 36 players on the UW roster are from the state of Washington . . . 29 of the 30 travel squad members for the trip to Northridge this weekend are Washingtonians.