January 15, 1999
SEATTLE - The Washington baseball team, ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll, opens spring practice Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. at Husky Ballpark. The Huskies, led by seventh-year head coach Ken Knutson, will have three and half weeks to prepare for the 1999 season opener, Feb. 11 against Brigham Young in St. George, Utah.
In all, 36 players are expected to turn out Sunday morning. The roster includes 22 returning letterwinners, four players that red-shirted last season, one junior college transfer and 10 freshmen.
The 1999 season will mark a new era for Washington baseball as the Huskies move into a unified Pacific-10 Conference. For the past 30 seasons, the UW has played in the conference's Northern Division, but this year, the league has done away with divisions and will play a schedule in which all nine teams (Oregon does not have baseball) play each other three times each.
Washington, which won the overall league title in each of the last two seasons, will host weekend series against UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State and will face California, Arizona, Washington State and USC on the road. The 1999 schedule also includes a visit from Collegiate Baseball's preseason No. 1 team, Wichita State, on March 24 and 25 at Husky Ballpark.
Washington is led by two returning All-Pac-10 North players: senior outfielder Nick Stefonick (Seattle, Wash./ODea HS), who led the North in batting with a .407 average last year, and sophomore pitcher Jeff Carlsen (Poulsbo, Wash./North Kitsap HS), who was also named freshman All-America last season. Also returning is junior pitcher Jeff Heaverlo (Ephrata (Wash.) HS), who was named a first-team preseason All-American by Baseball America.
Besides those three, six other players return to their starting positions in 1999 - first baseman Ed Erickson (Yakima, Wash./Eisenhower HS), second baseman Marc Rittenhouse (Bellevue, Wash./ Newport HS), outfielder Kyle Woods (Marysville, Wash./Marysville-Pilchuck HS), designated hitter Pete Orgill (Yakima, Wash./Davis HS) and pitchers Matt Hampton (Wenatchee (Wash.) HS) and Travis Anderson (Bellevue, Wash./Newport HS).