Feb. 3, 2003
THIS WEEKEND: The Washington baseball team opens the 2003 season this weekend when it travels to play in the Battle at the Beach tournament in Malibu, Calif. The Huskies open the season Friday, Feb. 7, at 2:00 p.m. vs. host team Pepperdine, which will also be taking the field for the first time. Saturday at 10 a.m., the Dawgs face UC Santa Barbara. Sunday, also at 10 a.m., the weekend concludes with the Huskies facing Houston, which was ranked No. 11 in both the Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN preseason polls. Washington, which received five points in the preseason coaches' poll, was picked by the Pac-10 coaches to finish seventh in the league despite tying for third and making an NCAA Regional last season. Feb. 14-16, the Huskies return to the Los Angeles area to face Loyola Marymount in a three-game series before opening the home slate Feb. 21-23 vs. Gonzaga at Husky Ballpark.
Fri., Feb. 7: UW at Pepperdine, 2 p.m. -- RHP Sean White
Sat., Feb. 8: UW vs. UC Santa Barbara, 10 a.m. -- RHP Jeff Petersen
Sun., Feb. 9: UW vs. Houston, 10 a.m. -- RHP Clay Johnson
SERIES HISTORY: Washington has faced Pepperdine only once all-time as the Waves beat the Huskies, 11-0, at the 1992 NCAA West I Regional. Pepperdine went on to win the College World Series that season. Three Pepperdine pitchers combined on a four-hitter, led by 7.2 innings from starter Derek Wallace. UCSB leads the all-time series vs. Washington, 7-2. The teams met most recently at a tournament in San Diego in 1998, with the Huskies winning, 17-9, after taking a 13-4 lead, scoring six in the first and seven in the third. Washington has never played the University of Houston, but did, incidentally, finish the 2002 season at the Cougars' cross-town rival. The Huskies took part in an NCAA Regional at Rice, falling to the Owls in the championship game.
COACH "K": In 10 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 four NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 347-235-1 (.596). With those 347 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in UW history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422). 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 168-76-1 (.688) record in home games. He is 152-106 (.589) in conference games. Knutson has coached 37 first-team All-Pac-10 selections in 10 seasons, and has been named league caoch of the year three times. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Travis Jewett, and Gregg Swenson and undergrad assistant Jeremiah Porter.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Here's a look at the probable starters at each position, with 2002 stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year '02 Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C -- Aaron Hathaway, Fr. .303-4-30 Freshman All-America and NCAA All-Regional in '02 Jefferson Thiel, Jr. redshirt 2000 Freshman All-America; elbow surgery in '02 1B -- Kyle Larsen, Fr. .342-5-37 Freshman All-America in '02; no Es in 454 chances 2B -- Greg Isaacson, Jr. .315-1-25 Started 44 of last 46 in '02; hit .343 as No. 9 hitter SS -- Tila Reynolds, Jr. .347-2-34 13th-round draft pick last June; 4th-year starter 3B -- John Otness, So. .333-2-19 Closed out '02 as regular DH; hit in 26 of 32 in 2002 Nick Batkoski, So. .196-0-4 Saw action at SS, 2B, 3B and DH as freshman in 2002 OF -- Mike Wagner, Jr. .284-2-17 Baseball America Summer All-America; hit .342 over summer OF -- Taylor Johnson, So. .278-4-13 Finished 2002 as starter in RF; team was 15-6 with him in RF OF -- Simi Reynolds, Fr. 1st season Younger brother of UW SS Tila and OSU 2B Kerisi OF -- Justin Drake, Jr. .000-0-0 Injury plagued through most of last 2 years/started 20 in 2000 OF -- Brandon Jacobson, Sr. .267-1-11 Started 19 games in left and center last year DH -- Steve Ramsey, So. .244-2-10 Can play 1B, DH or LF; posted six pinch hits in 2002 Chad Boudon, Jr. 1st season Played last three years at Univ. of Hawaii
LID-LIFTERS: After a somewhat rough start to his career, in terms of his success in season-opening games, coach Ken Knutson has experienced a recent upsurge in that department. Washington, after losing four of its first five season openers under Knutson, has now won four of its last five. Each of the Huskies' last five season openers have come in neutral-site tournaments, with the last three coming in tournaments held at big-league spring training sites in Arizona. The 1998 opener was at the Marlin's spring site in Florida. Over the last 10 years, Washington is 5-5 in season openers. Here's a look at the Huskies' 10 season openers under Knutson:
Feb. 14, 2002 W, 10-6 Missouri (at Phoenix) Feb. 22, 2001 W, 6-5 BYU (at Tucson) Feb. 17, 2000 L, 10-12 Creighton (at Phoenix) Feb. 11, 1999 W, 14-13 BYU (at St. George, Utah.) Feb. 13, 1998 W, 18-4 Florida Atlantic (at Viera, Fla.) Feb. 7, 1997 L, 10-12 at UNLV Feb. 16, 1996 L, 2-5 at Long Beach State Feb. 17, 1995 L, 8-9 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Feb. 18, 1994 W, 8-4 Toledo (at San Diego, Calif.) Feb. 12, 1993 L, 2-3 at Texas A&M
SQUAD BREAKDOWN: The 40-man Washington roster as the team enters the season is unusually balanced. The Husky roster includes 24 returning players (23 letterwinners) and 16 new players. Of those 16 new players, three are transfers from four-year colleges, two are junior college transfers and the remainder are true freshmen. Thanks to the return of seniors Tila Reynolds and Sean White, both drafted last June, the Huskies have an six fourth-year players (four seniors, two redshirt-juniors) on the team. Returning players have participated in a total of 966 games.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Counting those in the "others receiving votes" category, the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll ranked 57 teams this season. Washington, which picked up five points to rank the equivalent of 46th in that poll, will play a total of 30 games (more than half of its 56-game schedule) against teams that received votes in the preseason ranking. Those 30 games come against 12 different teams, including seven conference opponents (all but Washington State received votes). The Huskies will play a total of 10 games against four teams ranked in the top 11 in the preseason poll, beginning this weekend when the UW plays No. 11 Houston in Malibu.
NORTHWEST FLAVOR: As is usually the case, the Husky baseball roster is made up primarily of players from the state of Washington. In fact, 36 of the 40 players on the preseason roster are from the state of Washington, and another, Trent Baysinger, grew up in the city of Moscow, Idaho, just a few miles from the Washington border. Aside from Washington and Idaho, only one other state is represented on the Husky roster as three players come from the state of Colorado. All three -- freshmen Grant Gerrard and Matt Tucker and sophomore Devin Warner -- are new to the Huskies.
PRESEASON ACCOLADES: College baseball's preseason publications predicted a solid season for the 2002 Huskies. Baseball America ranked the Dawgs No. 47 in its preseason poll and counted the Huskies among the five Pac-10 teams it predicts will make it into the NCAA tournament. Senior pitcher Sean White was tabbed the Pac-10's best control pitcher and was named the No. 14 senior prospect in America. Shorstop Tila Reynolds was picked as the No. 9 senior in the country while sophomore first baseman Kyle Larsen was selected as the No. 39 sophomore prospect. Neither Collegiate Baseball nor USA Today Sports Weekly ranked the Huskies in the preseason, though the Huskies were among those receiving votes in USA Today's preseason coaches' poll (ranked No. 46, counting past the 25 ranked teams).
SEASON-OPENING TOURNAMENTS: Washington has opened each of the last five seasons at a multiple-team tournament, including four of the last five at the spring training home of a Major League team. Last year, the Huskies won three of four at a tournament at the Oakland A's site in Phoenix, going 1-1 vs. Missouri and 2-0 vs. Northwestern. In 2001, the Huskies played in Tucson at the Diamondbacks' and White Sox' spring training home (a shared facility). Three years, the Dawgs played at Oakland's home in Phoenix. In 1999, Washington played in a tournament in St. George, Utah, going 3-0 with two wins over BYU and one over Southern Utah. And in 1998, Washington opened the year with three games at the Florida Marlins' spring training complex in Viera, Fla. In those five tournaments, the UW has posted a combined record of 12-6. In 1998, the Huskies won all three, beating South Florida, Central Florida and Florida Atlantic. In 2000, the Dawgs managed only one win in five games, beating Northern Iowa while falling to Creighton (twice), Nevada and Northwestern. In 2001, the Huskies picked up thrilling one-run wins over Brigham Young (6-5) and Kentucky (3-2) before losing to Illinois by a run in a 12-inning marathon.
POSITION PLAYER NOTES (in alphabetical order):
Nick Batkoski, Soph. IF: Expected to get some time at third base, but also backs up at second base and shortstop and could crack the lineup as a DH ... as a freshman, started five at DH, two at SS, two at second and one at third ... played summer ball for Aloha (Ore.) in the Pacific International League, hitting .323 with a wood bat in league play.
Brian Bauer, RS-Freshman IF: A transfer from San Diego State University, where he redshirted last season ... a two-time 4A All-KingCo first-team selection at Woodinville High, the alma mater of current Huskies Mike Wagner and Brian Carter ... MVP of the Washington State all-star game following his senior season at Woodinville.
Chad Boudon, RS-Junior OF/1B: Transferred to Washington after spending the last three years at the University of Hawaii ... redshirted one season with the Rainbows and then played the last two ... in 2001, played in 46 games, batting .223 with five homers, 25 RBI and 10 stolen bases ... started 14 games last season at UH ... three-time all-district pick at Shorewood High School, just north of Seattle.
Justin Drake, RS-Junior OF: A fourth-year Husky outfielder ... has been injury-plagued the last couple of seasons, playing in only eight games last year and in nine in 2001, when he was granted a medical redshirt season due to a shoulder injury ... as a freshman in 2000, started 20 games, primarily as a center fielder ... of the the Huskies' fastest runners ... has made many past appearances as a pinch runner.
Aaron Hathaway, Soph. C: Turned in an outstanding freshman campaign, earning first-team Freshman All-America acclaim from Collegiate Baseball ... started 48 games at catcher in 2002, including 31 of the last 33 ... hit safely in 16 of the last 20 and 21 of the last 26 regular season games last year ... in the UW's second-half turnaround last year, hit .302 while allowing only four passed balls and 10 stolen bases over the last 32 games, mostly against Pac-10 competition ... played so well defensively in the NCAA Houston Regional at Rice that he made the all-tournament team despite going 1-for-17 at the plate.
Greg Isaacson, Junior 2B: Returns for his second season as the Huskies' starter at second base ... a walk-on who played in only four games as a freshman and didn't play at all the first 15 games of last year ... started 44 of the last 46, however ... batted .343 (37-for-108) when hitting No. 9 in the lineup last year ... batted .333 with a wood bat over the summer for Bend (Ore.)
Brandon Jacobson, Senior OF: A third-year Husky who played one season at Bellevue CC ... started 29 games as a sophomore in 2001 and 19 games last year, primarily in center ... also among the first choices of pinch runners ... started out last season hitting safely in eight of his first nine games, going 12-for-38 (.316) over that stretch.
Ben Johnson, Junior C: Has served as the Huskies' No. 2 catcher in each of the last two seasons ... a switch-hitter ... started 19 games as a freshman and 12 last year ... missed most of the fall practice season with a medical condition, but is fully recovered now ... drafed by the Astros in the 29th round of the 2000 draft.
Taylor Johnson, Soph. OF: Closed out the 2002 season as a regular starter in right field, particularly against right-handed pitchers ... one of the Huskies' best arms and best baserunners ... could be an option at the leadoff spot or as the No. 3 hitter ... started 21 of the last 33 in right to end last year ... Huskies went 15-6 in those 21 games ...batted .326 with a wood bat in league play last summer for the Bend (Ore.) Elks in the Pacific International League.
Kyle Larsen, Soph. 1B: Named a first-team Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball after a strong first season at UW ... finished with the second-best average on the team (.342) after having spent much of the year as the Huskies' top hitter ... has yet to make an error in 454 chances ... when hitting as the No. 3 hitter last year, batted .436 (24-for-55) in 14 games ... Huskies were 10-4 in those games ... closed out 2002 regular season on a 12-game hitting streak, batting .500 (22-for-44) over that stretch ... had a game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th inning in an April 21 win over No. 2 Stanford last year.
Brent Lillibridge, Freshman IF: Had an outstanding fall, and despite the return of fourth-year starting shortstop Tila Reynolds, figures to get some game action as a freshman ... a three-year team captain at Jackson High in Everett, Wash. ... led Jackson to a 31-5 league record over his last two seasons ... a career .420 hitter in high school.
John Otness, Freshman 3B: Began last year as the starter at third base, then didn't play much through the middle of the season before re-emerging as the starter at DH through the stretch run ... won a battle for the vacant starting third base position in the fall ... Huskies were 13-7 with him at DH in 2002 ... hit in 26 of 32 starts overall last year ... went 6-for-16 in the NCAA regional last year and reached on a two-strike HBP one batter before Jay Garthwaite's two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth beat Rice, 7-6, to force a second championship game.
Steve Ramsey, Junior OF/1B: After seeing limited action in his first two seasons, has earned a shot as the Huskies' starter DH (at least against righties) this year ... one of the team's top natural power hitters ... was probably the UW's top pinch hitter last season, connecting for six pinch hits on the year ... can play first base, outfield and DH.
Simi Reynolds, Freshman OF: A top candidate to start in center field this year ... younger brother of Husky senior SS Tila as well as Oregon State second baseman Kerisi ... spent the fall as a walkon cornerback on the football team, but red-shirted the year ... one of the most decorated athletes in recent Washington high school history ... led Skyline HS to three straight league titles in baseball and three straight top-five finishes in the state ... led summer baseball teams to three top-three national finishes over the last four years ... helped football team to state championship as a junior and a third-place finish as a senior ... earned the 2002 Athletes for a Better World "Spirit of ABW" award after co-founding "Athletes for Kids" ... one of several community service awards he's received.
Tila Reynolds, Senior SS: Returns for his senior year despite being drafted by the Brewers in the 13th round of the 2002 draft ... will spend his fourth straight season as the Husky starter at shortstop ... younger brother, Simi, is one of the top candidates to start in CF ... named the No. 9 senior prospect in the U.S. by Baseball America ... named to the NCAA Regional all-tournament team last year ... often the Huskies' No. 2hitter last year, batting .403 (60-for-149) when hitting in that spot last season ... led the tam with .347 average and withi 19 stolen bases last year ... had hitting streaks of 13 and 14 games last season.
Jefferson Thiel, RS-Junior C: Returns to full duty after missing last season due to surgery ... had "Tommy John" surgery just prior to last season ... had been the Husky starter at catcher the previous two years, earning USA Today freshman All-America honors in 2000 ... a preseason candidate for the Johnny Bench Award last season before the injury ... had been hitting .415 (17-for-41) on the year in 2001 before the injury first came up ... started 44 games as a true freshman in 2000.
Mike Wagner, Junior OF: Formerly a third baseman for the Huskies, moved to left field at mid-season last year and will start there this season ... named a Baseball America Summer All-American this fall after a great summer with North Adams (Mass.) ... was the league MVP after leading the league in batting, slugging, on-base, hits and runs ... stated 16 games in left for the Huskies last season, mostly in the last month of the season or so ... has yet to be caught stealing in eight career attempts.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER NOTES:
FRIDAY -- Sean White, Senior RHP: The Huskies' No. 2 starter through most of last season ... drafted by Montreal in the 35th round of the 2002 draft ... expected to be a much higher draft pick, but rumors of shoulder injury dropped him ... rated the No. 14 senior prospect in the nation this year by Baseball America ... won his last six decisions last season after starting 1-2 ... in eight Pac-10 starts, went 5-0 with a 4.07 ERA over 55.1 innings ... went seven innings or more in each of his last five starts ... in his final start, at the NCAA Regional vs. Harvard, out-dueled Crimson ace Ben Crockett (a third-round pick) for a4-2 win ... both went the distance and White allowed seven hits and no walks while fanning six ... struck out eight and allowed five hits in 7.1 in a win over UCLA ... beat USC, Oregon State and Arizona down the stretch as well ... opened the 2002 season with a bang, throwing five one-hit innings vs. Northwestern in a season-opening tournament ... combined for a two-hit shutout and didn't allow a hit over the first 4.1 IP of that one ... went 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA during the summer with Brewster in the Cape Cod League.
SATURDAY -- Jeff Petersen, Junior RHP: After serving as a spot starter and reliever for the UW the last two years, will begin 2002 as a starter ... one of the Huskies' top pro prospects ... a 25th round pick by Baltimore in 2000 after leading Kentwood High to the 4A state title ... six starts and four relief outings last year ... top outing was a five-inning start vs. Portland, when he allowed three hits in a combined shutout ... struck out a career-high seven batters in a four-inning outing May 14 vs. Gonzaga ... started the NCAA Regional championship game at Rice, suffering the loss.
SUNDAY-- Clay Johnson, Junior RHP: Closed out the 2002 season in the best form of his college career ... began the year as a top-three starter, then lost his spot before returning in the last two-thirds of the conference season ... made 12 starts and one relief appearance in 2002 ... named to the NCAA Regional all-tourney team thanks to a great outing vs. Texas Tech ... beat the Red Raiders, allowing five hits and one run over seven and two-thirds ... beat UCLA and UC Irvine with complete-game outings ... didn't walk more than two batters in any one game during the regular season last year ... also a regular starter as a freshman, getting 10 starts in 2001 ... won the National Baseball Congress World Series last summer as a member of the Fairbanks (Alaska) Goldpanners ... 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA for the Goldpanners.
BULLPEN NOTES: Trent Baysinger (Jr. LHP) enters his first season at the UW after two years at Walla Walla (Wash.) CC ... once struck out 16 in a junior college playoff game ... Brian Carter (Jr. LHP) made 17 and one start in 2002 ... high school teammate of fellow Huskies Mike Wagner and Brian Bauer ... allowed an earned run in only four his 18 appearances and gave up a hit in only six of 18 last year ... lone career win came in relief vs. California ... Josh Conover (Soph. RHP) made eight relief appearances and no starts last season ... didn't surrender a hit in first three outings of his career last year ... didn't give up a hit until his fifth appearance ... David Dowling (Soph. LHP) made four starts and nine relief appearances in 2002 ... struck out six batters over four relief innings in first career appearance last year vs. Portland ... earned wins over Washington State and Portland (in another outing) ... longest time on the mound was a six-inning start at Missouri ... Keaton Everitt (RS-Fr. RHP) missed last season after preseason surgery ... only began pitching as a senior in high school but has shown low-90s velocity ... at Juanita High in 2001, struck out 27 in 15 innings ... Will Fenton (Soph. RHP) pitched in 19 games as a freshman last year, the second highest total on the team ... emerged as a closer and set-up man ... most memorable outing was at Cal, when he got a save by fanning the last two batters of the game with the bases loaded ... in the Huskies' win at Rice last year in the regionals, threw three and one-third no-hit innings of relief for the win, as the UW got a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the victory ... Matt Kasser (Fr. RHP) is the lone freshman pitcher that will travel in the opening weekend ... set a KingCo Conference record with 25 career victories at Issaquah High ... won a state title as a sophomore ... 9-3 as a sophomore, 7-1 as a junior and 8-1 as a senior in high school ... Scott Robertson (Sr. RHP) enters the year with 36 career relief appearances and no starts during his career ... had seven saves in 2001, the sixth-highest total in school history ... earned his lone win of 2002 in the season's opening weekend, getting a relief victory vs. Northwestern ... Joel Villalobos (Jr. LHP) comes to UW after two seasons at Bellevue CC ... played mostly outfield in 2001 and then went 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA as a sophomore last year ... struck out 71 in 51.1 innings last year at BCC, when batters hit only .161 against him.