THIS WEEK: The No. 14 Washington Huskies (7-3) return to the road this weekend, travelling to the Midwest to face No. 24 Wichita State (2-1) in a three-game series at Eck Stadium/Tyler Field. It will be the Huskies' fifth trip to Wichita in the last six seasons, and the two teams also met in Hawaii last season. Friday, the Huskies will send junior Matt Hampton (2-1, 2.21 ERA) to the mound in a 3:00 p.m. (CST) game. On Saturday, sophomore Travis Anderson (2-1, 3.24) will get the start in a 2:00 p.m. (CST) matchup.
Sunday's finale, a 1:00 p.m. game, will see freshman Jeff Carlsen (3-0, 3.31) get the start. The Wichita State broadcasts of the games are available via the internet. Go to: www.radio.audionet.com/radio/talk/knss/station.html. Next week, the Dawgs return to the new Husky Ballpark to play five straight home games. The Dawgs take on Puget Sound on Wednesday then open the Pac-10 North season over the weekend against Portland State.
SERIES HISTORY: Washington and Wichita State have squared off nine times over the last six seasons. The Huskies won the first three and the Shockers have won the last six. In 1993, the Huskies, under then first-year head coach Ken Knutson, beat WSU in the teams' only meeting. In 1994, the Dawgs won the first two of a three-game series in Wichita before losing the third. Later in 1994, the Huskies played at the Midwest II Regional at Wichita State.
The Huskies played perhaps the best game in school history, beating Georgia Tech in 14 innings to force a second championship game, but finished second at the regional and did not face the host Shockers. In 1995, the freshmen-laden UW team was swept in three games at Eck Stadium. Last year, the Dawgs dropped a pair of games to the Shockers during the Rainbow Easter Classic in Hawaii.
COACH "K": In five-plus seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to a Pac-10 championship, three Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and two NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 192-118 (.619). With those 192 wins, he is the third-winningest coach in Washington history, trailing only Tubby Graves (209 wins) and Bob MacDonald (422).
Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons over two separate stints. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 earned run average. Knutson holds a 81-23 (.779) record in home games. He is 94-44 (.681) in Pac-10 Northern Division games and holds a winning record against every Nor-Pac team (including now-departed Portland and Gonzaga). A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Kevin Johnston and Joe Weis.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with 1998 stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year Avg-HR-RBI Notes C -- Ryan Bundy, Jr. .407-2-5 Baseball America's No. 44 prospect/5-for-8 vs. Zags Pete Orgill, Jr.(1B).400-2-5 HR, 4 RBI in first career start at catcher on Saturday B -- Ed Erickson, So. .227-0-3 21 starts and 99 at bats a year ago/6 starts in '98 Dominic Woody, So. (C).400-1-5 Backs up at C and 1B/starts at DH, 1B and C this year 2B --Chris Whitemarsh, Sr. .353-1-3 One of two seniors on UW roster/right-handed hitter Marc Rittenhouse, Fr. .125-0-0 MVP of all-state tournament/led Newport HS to title Darin Nakagawa, Jr. .000-0-0 16 starts last season/lefty hitter/also backs SS, 3B SS --Kevin Miller, Jr. .256-1-10 2-time Pac-10 North Player of the Year/5-for-10 vs. GU 3B --Ryan Lentz, Jr. .421-2-7 Baseball America's No. 50 prospect/26 doubles in '97 OF --Chris Magruder, Jr. .486-1-12 20-game hit streak broken vs. USD/9-10 SB, 14 runs OF --Jim Na, Jr. .235-1-3 '98 co-captain with Magruder/left-handed hitter OF --Nick Stefonick, Jr. .250-1-4 Platoons with Na in RF/13-of-15 stolen bases in '97 OF --Kyle Woods, So. .410-2-12 Two hits in seven of 10 games this season/6 doubles OF --Dwight DeMar, So. .143-0-2 Made first career start at LF Sunday vs. Gonzaga DH --Bryan Williamson, Jr.(P).333-3-10 Baseball America's No. 61 prospect/1st IP vs. Gonzaga
LAST WEEK: The Huskies opened the new Husky Ballpark last weekend with a 2-1 series win over Gonzaga. Friday, in the first game ever played at the new facility, the Bulldogs edged out the Huskies for a 4-3 victory. Washington out-hit Gonzaga 10-8, but left 12 men on base. All four Gonzaga runs came on home runs (two solo and one two-run). Matt Hampton threw 8.1 innings, fanning six and walking only one in the longest starting outing by a Husky this season, but took the loss. On Saturday, four Husky pitchers combined to hold Gonzaga to only two hits in a 5-1 UW win.
Junior Pete Orgill, whose shoulder injuries kept him from catching most of the last two seasons, made his first career start behind the plate and had a good game. Orgill belted a three-run homer and drove in another run with a ground ball and also threw out the only Zag runner that attempted to steal. Travis Anderson improved to 2-1 with 5.2 two-hit innings, fanning five. Cody Morrison struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth. Sunday, the Husky offense came alive as six different Huskies hit home runs and the Dawgs won, 19-4. Freshman Jeff Carlsen upped his record to 3-0, throwing five shutout innings and allowing just two hits while fanning seven. UWscored runs in seven of eight innings and Bryan Williamson, who had shoulder surgery in the off-season, threw his first inning of the year, a perfect frame with one K.
PRESEASON PATTER: Washington received more preseason recognition this year than, probably, any year in its history. Both OF Chris Magruder and SS Kevin Miller were named first-team preseason All-Americans and the Huskies were ranked in every poll -- No. 12 in Baseball America, No. 15 in the Sporting News, No. 14 in the USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN coaches' poll and No. 20 in Collegiate Baseball. The Huskies' No. 12 ranking is their highest ever in any poll, preseason or otherwise. Additionally, the Huskies' were the pick to win the Pac-10 North by BA and the Pac-10 Coaches. In Baseball America's top 100 college prospects (eligible for the 1998 draft), five Huskies (Ryan Bundy, Ryan Lentz, Bryan Williamson, Magruder and Miller) appeared, more than any school except for Stanford, with six.
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 fourth Pac-10 North title in the 1990s, won the Pac-10 overall championship and came within one win of the College World Series. In the 1990s, Washington has made three NCAA Regional appearances, more than any team from the Northwest. During the current decade, the Huskies have posted a 288-181 (.614) overall record and a 136-66 (.673) mark in Pac-10 North play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 138-58 (.704) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 107-53 (.669) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest team (12) he has faced.
THE SCHEDULE: As usual, the Huskies began this season largely on the road, with eight straight road games to begin the season. In addition, 16 of the Huskies' first 24 games are away from the new Husky Ballpark. However, this season's schedule (which totals 56 games) includes at least 27 home games, the most in the history of the program. Last season, Washington may have been the nation's winningest road team, with 30 victories away from Graves Field. This season's schedule is highlighted with three three-game series against Pac-10 Southern Division teams, the newest wrinkle in the ever-changing Pac-10 format. This year, each Southern Division team will play one road series and one home series against Northern Division teams, while each North team gets three series. The Huskies play at Stanford and face Arizona State and California at home. Also, should the Huskies win the Northern Division, they'll get to host the Pac-10 Championship Series.
HUSKY BALLPARK: This season marks the beginning of a new era for Husky baseball as Washington moves to a new home -- Husky Ballpark. Graves Field, where the Huskies played since the early 1960s, is gone as Washington played its first game at the new site last Friday vs. Gonzaga. This season, the new facility will feature a new field, with the stadium to come in the future. The new field features an AstroTurf infield and a beautiful view of Lake Washington, the Cascades and Mount Rainier. Already, the new field, which includes a state-of-the-art outfield drainage system, has paid dividends as the Huskies have been able to practice on a real baseball field every day since opening spring practice on January 6. In past years, the Huskies have often been able to practice only on the football turf prior to playing the first game of the year.
THE SCOOTER: Junior center fielder Chris Magruder (Yakima, Wash./ West Valley HS) is off to another outstanding season in his third year as a Husky starter. In 10 games this season, Magruder leads the Huskies with his .486 (17-for-35) batting average, 14 runs and 12 RBI. He's also stolen nine bases in 10 attempts, including a steal of home (on a pickoff throw to first) against UCSB. With 70 career steals, he's moved into second place on the UW career chart, trailing only Joe Trippy (85).
The speedy leadoff man was named a first-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball and a second-teamer by the Sporting News. Last year, he broke UW records for hits (104), runs (96) and steals (43) while batting .400. He completed the 1997 season on a tear, batting .619 at the NCAA Mideast Regional and closing out the year with a 16-game hitting streak. He went on to start in right field for the USA Baseball National Team, batting .336 over the summer. He had a 20-game hitting streak broken vs. USD (he went 0-for-2), but still, over the last 26 games, he has hit .505 (50-for-99) with 43 runs an 26 runs batted in.
MILLER TIME: Junior shortstop Kevin Miller returns to defend his back-to-back titles as the Pac-10 North Player fo the Year as he was the first man ever to win the award twice (and, in 1996, the first freshman to win it). The power hitter from Seattle's Ballard High was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Sporting News and a second-teamer by Collegiate Baseball this year. Last year, he batted .384 and broke the UW RBI record with 73 while leading the team with 12 home runs. After his sophomore season, he was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' second-team All-America while making the third team on two other lists. He has started 133 of the 134 games during his UW tenure at shortstop. Last weekend, Miller raised his batting average 84 points and has driven in 10 RBI with his 10 hits this year.
AT THE HOT CORNER: Junior Ryan Lentz (Woodinville (Wash.) HS) returns to his spot as the Husky starting third baseman for the third season this year. If the left-handed hitter with the strong arm improves this year as much as he did last year, his statistics will be monsterous. Last year, he started 64 of the Huskies' 66 games at third, batting .327 with nine home runs and 69 RBI. He also broke the UW doubles record with 26, smashing the old record by eight.
His 251 at bats, 82 hits and 58 runs were all among the top 10 in Husky history and his 69 runs batted in would have broken the school record except that Kevin Miller had 73 in 1997. Named a third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers in 1997, he was tabbed the No. 50 college prospect in the nation by Baseball America this preseason. As a sophomore, he improved his average by 65 points and posted 30 more extra-base hits over his freshman season. So far this year, Lentz is batting .421 (16-for-38) with 12 runs, four doubles, two homers and seven RBI in 10 games.
BEHIND THE PLATE: Ryan Bundy (Lake Stevens (Wash.) HS) is another star member of the Huskies' junior class. A tremendous defensive catcher, Bundy's offense has shown steady improvement over the last two seasons. Last year, he batted .311 with 17 doubles, six homers and 40 runs batted in over 193 at bats. Perhaps, most impressive, he stole 14 bases in 16 attempts and is one of the Huskies' fastest players.
He showed great improvement over his freshman year in the power categories as he had only three doubles, no homers and 19 RBI in 135 ABs as a freshman. This preseason, Baseball America called him the No. 44 college prospect in the nation, the highest of the five Husky players to make the top 100. At the Space Coast Invitational, Bundy put on a show with his bat, going 5-for-10 with three doubles, six runs and a home run. He's started eight of 10 games this year and is batting .407 with four doubles, two homers and five RBI.
BIG WILLY: Last season, junior Bryan Williamson (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS) developed into one of the nation's top two-way players, posting a 4-2 record with six saves and a 2.89 ERA on the mound and a .381 batting average with 58 RBI as a designated hitter and outfielder. At the conclusion of last season, the 6-foot-6 righthander was given a tryout with the USA National Team, but withdrew with a shoulder injury that was repaired in the off-season.
This year, Williamson will move into the starting rotation and play only DH in the batting order. A tricky, yet hard-throwing pitcher, Williamson fanned 49 batters and allowed only 34 hits in 43.2 innings a year ago. All of his statistics were a vast improvement over his freshman season, when he batted .254 and had an 11.12 earned run average. This preseason, Williamson was named the No. 61 college prospect in the nation by Baseball America. Williamson leads the team with three homers and is third with 10 RBI (on only eight hits). Sunday vs. Gonzaga, he made his first mound appearance after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery. He threw one perfect inning, inducing two flyouts and a strikeout.
CLASS NOTES -- SENIORS: UW has only two seniors -- 2B Chris Whitemarsh and reliever Cody Morrison . . . Whitemarsh is batting .333 and has a double, triple and homer among his six hits . . . Morrison has worked 3.2 innings over two outings and has yet to allow a hit or an earned run . . . he fanned all three batters he faced in the Saturday win over Gonzaga.
JUNIORS: LHP Matt Hampton has been strong in his three starts . . . at 2-1 on the year, he's worked 20.1innings, allowing only five earned runs and has walked only two batters . . . RF Nick Stefonick has started nine of 10 games this season . . . despite having only five hits (.250 BA), he has a triple, a homer, four RBI and a .409 on-base percentage . . . IF Darin Nakagawa has played in eight games as a defensive replacement and is 0-for-5 . . . Jim Na has only two starts, thanks to the Huskies having faced eight left-handed starters . . . Pete Orgill, another lefty hitter, is in the same boat with Na . . . Orgill got his first career start at catcher on Saturday and went 1-for-2 with a homer and four RBI while also throwing out a potential base-stealer . . . reserve C/DH Kevin Ticen, who went 1-for-1 last season, is 2-for-5 with six RBI, a double and a home run . . . his three career hits (in six at bats) are two doubles and a home run.
SOPHOMORES: LF Kyle Woods leads the Dawgs with his 12 RBI and six doubles . . . Woods, the Huskies' No. 2 hitter, has had two hits in seven of 10 games this year . . . C/1B Dominic Woody has started seven of 10 games at DH, 1B and C, and has gone 10-for-25 (.400) at the plate . . . Woody has a hit in five of six games . . . Ed Erickson has started at first base and DH . . . he alreadyhas two stolen bases (he had none a year ago) . . reserve OF Dwight DeMar has played in six games so far and earned his first career start Sunday vs. Gonzaga . . . on the mound, Travis Anderson is 2-1 and has allowed only 12 hits in 16.2 innings . . . opponents are batting only .185 against him . . . reliever Ken Ferguson has fanned six hitters in 2.2 innings and has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise.
FRESHMEN: Even on this veteran-laden team, the Husky freshmen are making a huge impact this year as nine true freshman have played . . . Marc Rittenhouse has started five times at second . . . the other infielder to see action is SS Greg Brooks, who has played in four games and doubled in his first AB (vs. UCSB) . . . on the mound, the Husky freshmen have combined to throw 35.1 innings between six pitchers . . . Jeff Carlsen has three wins in two starts and a long relief outing . . . he leads the Huskies with 16 strikeouts . . . John Gillespie threw a pair of no-hit innings vs. Central Florida and 4.2 good innings in a loss to San Diego . . . Matt Massingale has allowed only two hits and no earned runs while fanning five in four and one-third.
RANDOM NOTES: UW will have 27 games (plus any postseason action) air on live radio this season . . . games will air on KRPM AM-1090 and on the internet (via AudioNet), beginning with the game at Stanford, March 21 . . . the Huskies were last shut out in the final game of the 1996 season (5-0 at USC), meaning that they've gone 76 straight without being blanked . . . opponents have been able to shut the Huskies out through the first three innings only 12 times in that span and the UW has scored in the first inning 43 times in those 76 games and in 38 of the last 60 . . . several members of the UW staff have Wichita ties . . . head coach Ken Knutson coached briefly at Wichita State prior to taking the head job at Washington . . . Knutson's wife Pam hails from Hesston, Kan. . . . UW trainer Kim Nye graduated from Derby HS and was the baseball trainer as a graduate student at WSU . . . two former UW pitchers -- Derek Carpenter and Mike O'Brien -- were Wichita natives.