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Cougar Baseball closing in on first pitch

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It's 40 degrees, windy and raining outside... But the boys of summer are nearly here as the Cougars close in on first pitch this Friday.

WSU Athletic Communications

If you're a baseball fan in the Northwest, Friday is going to be a good day for you. The Mariners will officially arrive in Peoria, Arizona as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. But that's not all: College baseball season officially kicks off for the Cougs.

Marty Lees will be in the dugout for the first time in a WSU uniform as Washington State travels to San Marcos for a four game series against the Texas State Bobcats. They'll be in Texas for the next week before coming home on March 3rd to host Utah Valley.

Among Washington State fans, there are high expectations for Lees in Pullman. He was one of the coaches, alongside Pat Casey, that brought Oregon State from an underdog, to a powerhouse. He also was part of a coaching staff that took Oklahoma State from a program that was "in disarray" when he arrived, and brought them to a conference championship just a couple years later.

And Lees has high expectations for himself. "Just know," he said after taking the job, "1976 was the last time Washington State's been to Omaha. I think that’s far too long... We can win a championship here. There's no question."

The expectations for Lees around the conference, however, aren't as high this season. The coaches poll placed the Cougars 10th in the 11 team baseball conference, just 2 votes ahead of Utah. Meanwhile, D1Baseball.com puts them in the last spot in the conference. However, Jennifer Bellini, who commented on that D1Baseball.com article (and apparently works as a "gamer at Mafia Wars" and studied at "Mafia Wars") claims the Cougs will surprise "some teams in baseball and sneak into the College World Series first round appearance."

How will Marty Lees do in his first season in Pullman? Will the Cougs surprise some teams and prove Ms. Bellini right? Will Ian Hamilton win the Stopper of the Year Award that he was put on the watchlist for? So many questions... And the answers will start to come Friday when the Cougs start the season in Texas.

Baseball

Hamilton Named To Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Hamilton recorded 13 saves last season to earn All-Pac-12 honors.

Baseball Preview: Coach Marty Lees - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
New Cougar manager Marty Lees talks about this years team.

Football

ESPN: Oregon Ducks to Play in 2 of Pac-12's Most Compelling Games of 2016 - Addicted To Quack
Let the countdown begin.

Basketball

Cougars Host Bay Area Schools in Final Homestand - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
WSU takes on Stanford, Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum.

This week in Pac-12 women's basketball | Pac-12
Pac-12 highlights off-the-court achievements