Feb. 17, 2008
The 2008 college baseball season gets underway this Friday as, for the first time, every Division I program in the nation (outside of Hawaii and Hawaii-Hilo) opens up on the same day.
The Huskies, under 16th-year head coach Ken Knutson, begin their season with a four-game series at defending Big West champion UC Riverside, Friday through Monday. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. while game time the remaining three days is 1:00 p.m.
Fans can listen to live audio broadcasts of each game, for free, at the Dawg Channel at gohuskies.com. Those who are hoping to listen to the games are urged to sign up ahead of time to make sure that things are working properly prior to game time. While there is no charge, you must sign up for an account in order to listen.
The first weekly notes release will be posted here at gohuskies.com on Tuesday.
In the meantime, with just a few days to go until the first pitch of the 2008 season, gohuskies.com sat down with Coach Knutson. Here's what the Diamond Dawgs' skipper had to say:
gohuskies.com: How have things gone in practice in terms of the team's preparation for the upcoming season?
Knutson: I feel like we've had a good winter. We need to go play somebody. I think we're ready. Our pitching is lined up to be ready for the weekend. In our scrimmages, our hitting's starting to come around. I like what we've seen on the mound, which of course affects how we hit. We've played solid defense. I think the guys are getting better. It's that time.
gohuskies.com: As you close in on opening day, are you finding that you like the fact that the new NCAA rules have dictated that every team opens on the same, uniform day?
Knutson: It's sort of cool when you think about. We're all going to be 0-0 until Friday. This time of year, usually, you'd see some team be 10-0 already. It's going to be interesting to see how it's all going to shake out and how it's going to affect how teams are going to use their pitching. A lot of teams are going to have to use more pitchers.
gohuskies.com: It's rare that the Huskies go play a team from California in California on opening weekend and they don't already have at least two weekends under their belts.
Knutson: It's unprecedented. I think it'll be more difficult for them because they haven't done it as much. Hopefully, we'll have a little bit of an edge because in the past, we haven't been a position where we've come in equal.
gohuskies.com: Is it fair to say that most teams play a lot different in their second or third weekends than they do in the first weekend of the season?
Knutson: Yes. The first weekend, you just hope you don't have a collision in the dugout when you're running out on to the field. Guys are all excited and amped up. As the season goes, you grow. It's going to be interesting for us, though. We're mixing a lot of new guys in, so it's going to be fun. There should be a lot of excitement.
gohuskies.com: In the season preview, we talked a lot about how many questions there are in this team. Is it still that way? Do you need to play some games before you really answer things?
Knutson: I think a bunch of guys have earned shots to play. We have a few injury situations and also some performance factors that will come into play. We're young around the infield, so I'm going to try and get some guys some experience and hopefully some of them will step out in front and earn the job. Until that happens, we'll run guys out there.
gohuskies.com: Every year, your roster is made up mainly of guys from in-state. This year, however, it's 100 percent Washington products. What does that say about the status of high school and youth baseball in the state of Washington?
Knutson: It's really good. I think it's been growing over the 25 years I've been in coaching. I say this a lot, but it's been the influence of the Mariners and college baseball being more in the forefront with television and the internet and so on. Summer baseball has had a huge impact. When our guys come in, they're just a lot more developed as baseball players than they used to be. The players are better now because they've played so much more baseball. We can survive just fine with only kids from this state as long as we get most of them. So that's what we're going to continue to do.