Nov. 1, 2009
The Washington baseball team recently wrapped up its four-week fall practice season, its first action under first-year head coach Lindsay Meggs and his new staff.
The Dawgs will open the 2010 season next February at a tournament in Tucson, Ariz., and, for the time being, will work out in small groups and on their own before spring practice gets back underway on Feb. 1.
Recently, Coach Meggs sat down with GoHuskies.com to talk about the fall. Here's what he had to say:
GoHuskies.com: In general, what positives do you take from the fall practice season:
Coach Meggs: I think the most positive aspect of the fall was our offensive production. It looks like we have the potential to score some runs. That's something we're going to have to improve on -- the way we score runs. We want to be able to manufacture runs, but we do have some physical guys. In our ballpark, that's going to be important because of the way the ball can fly out of there on a given day. The fact that we're a little thin on the mound might be able to be overcome if we score some runs and play some defense. So I think, physically, we've got some guys who are able to put up some numbers offensively. That was the most obvious positive.
GoHuskies.com: Knowing both the way that Husky Ballpark plays and the abilities of your players now, is there any effect on your coaching philosophy?
Coach Meggs: I've always been more inclined to work hard to get the leadoff guy on, try to get him into scoring position and take my runs almost one at a time. Not always playing for one run, but it's always been more geared towards the short game and putting pressure on guys. This ballpark, the way it played in the fall -- and I know that it's not always going to be that way -- a one-run lead can disappear pretty quickly in this league. The personnel we have isn't really geared towards that pressure game that I've played in the past. So we're going to probably have to use some discretion in terms of playing for one run because one run is going to disappear pretty quickly some times.
GoHuskies.com: What do you think are the strengths of the team?
Coach Meggs: We have some older guys. We have 10 juniors that have been in the program and also some seniors. We have a little bit of an edge to us because nobody on this roster has been in a regional. That in itself is a chip on our shoulder that gives us a little bit of an edge in terms of some guys seeing the clock winding down and they haven't had a chance to play in the postseason and are very determined to do whatever it takes to get there. That mentality has been a plus. I think our work ethic has been good because of that. The fact that we can score some runs means that anything is possible.
GoHuskies.com: What sort of goal did you have in mind when you began fall practice?
Coach Meggs: Our original goal heading into the fall was to teach our guys the type of game that we want to play. That's tough to do in four weeks. It's tough to hammer that home. But I think we've made a pretty good impression on them in terms of what we feel like based on their skills, our personnel, the makeup of the roster and the league we're in what we're going to have to do to be successful. If we can avoid injuries and maybe overachieve in some areas, maybe we can finish in the top third of the conference and who knows what can happen. One of the things we talk about is that, in a typical year, four teams from the Pac-10 make the postseason. Our goal is to keep getting better every day and even if we're that fourth-place team, if we're playing our best baseball at the end of the year, who knows what can happen?
GoHuskies.com: You played in the Pac-10, but it's been a while since you've been a part of the conference. Have you had a chance to get a feel for the Pac-10 as it is now?
Coach Meggs: We had to get educated as quickly as we could about our own guys. We really haven't had time to worry about the rest of the conference. That'll come in time. Right now, our priority is to educate our own guys as to how we want to play the game and make sure they understand that. But there'll be a time, believe me, when we'll sit down and say 'where is everybody else and how to we get prepared for them?'
GoHuskies.com: Did you feel like your players bought in to your message during the fall?
Coach Meggs: I think so. I think as a staff, we've broken down the numbers for the guys from last year based on when they were successful and when they weren't. We've broken down the numbers and the approach of some of the better teams recently in the College World Series, why they've had success and what they have in common. So that was step one to get the guys to understand that this is a game of percentages and these are the teams that are successful offensively, defensively and on the mound. This is why and this is the approach you want to take. Once they understood the message, that's where you started to get that buy-in. It's tough when you're not playing in any games and you can't see any results. For us, we're trying to get them to buy in the process and not worry about the results. That's sometimes hard for 19 and 20-year old guys. But we're getting better. Each day is better. Hopefully by the time we put the uniforms on in the spring, we'll have that group of guys who do buy in.
GoHuskies.com: As you've spent time in the Northwest, gone out recruiting and gotten to know people associated with the UW, what impressions have you formed?
Coach Meggs: Every day, I'm even more amazed about the regard people have for this university in the entire Pacific Northwest. Until I got here, I didn't realize how academically strong the University of Washington is. I didn't realize just how deep the tradition is and how deep the bloodlines run here. Every time I talk to a potential Husky, he's got a grandfather, an uncle, an aunt, a brother who's gone to school here. The University of Washington is not a tough sell to kids in the Northwest. Kids want to come here and we have been really pleased with the skill level of the baseball players here. For us, it's about trying to get the facilities done, trying to get kids to buy in to what we're doing, win some games and try to get the baseball program on par with the rest of the university. And that's no slap in the face to the baseball program because the coaches here before us did a nice job, but this university is so tremendous. When you talk four-year colleges in the Northwest, it starts right here. We want to take advantage of that and build on it and try to capture the best players we can in the state of Washington.