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WSU baseball prepares for first pitch

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It doesn’t feel like Summer... But the boys of Summer are here.

Dean Hare/WSU Photo Services/WSU Athletic Communications

This week is a national celebration for MLB fans because baseball is back.

Sure, we still have a month and a half until opening day, but many teams open spring training this week.

This week is also opening day in college baseball. The Washington State Cougars have been hard at work for the past few weeks enjoying unseasonably warm weather in Pullman getting ready for first pitch on Friday. And, as luck would have it, the team is leaving for game number one around the same time that that unseasonably warm weather turns into a mini-snowpocalypse in Eastern Washington.

The Cougs will open up the 2018 season in Tempe at a tournament hosted by... Nebraska?

Sure!

It’s the 2018 Husker Classic at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Washington State will play four games between Friday and Sunday against UC Riverside and Nebraska. Here’s a look at how the schedule will shake out.

WASHINGTON STATE vs. UC RIVERSIDE, Friday, 11 a.m. (PT)

WASHINGTON STATE vs. NEBRASKA, Saturday, 11 a.m. (PT)

NEBRASKA vs. WASHINGTON STATE, Sunday, 11 a.m. (PT)

UC RIVERSIDE vs. WASHINGTON STATE, Sunday, 3 p.m. (PT)

The Cougs had a disappointing 2017 campaign going 24-29 (10-20 in Pac-12) in the second season under skipper Marty Lees. But despite the record, WSU showed plenty of signs of improvement. In 2017 the Cougs recorded their highest batting average, runs scored and home runs since 2013. They also finished fourth in the Pac-12 with 105 doubles.

This year the Cougs are looking to improve even more, and they’re going to do it behind a large group of returners. Washington State brings back eight starters from their lineup, including three of their top four home run threats. On the mound, they bring back two pitchers from their final weekend rotation.

Despite the performance last season, there isn’t a lot of hype around the 2018 Cougs. On Monday, the Pac-12 coaches picked Washington State to finish 10th (out of 11 teams). CollegeBaseballDaily has a similar projection for the Cougs, picking them 10th but praising their offensive outlook.

For more on this year’s team, check out the official game notes here. You can watch the preseason press conference with coach Lees below.

First pitch of the 2018 season is set for Friday at 11 AM in Tempe. The Tournament is part of a seven game road trip that includes one game in Phoenix against Grand Canyon and a three game set in Tuscaloosa against Alabama. You can see the whole schedule here.

Link of the Day

Barry Zito Gave Up a Home Run To Steve Gleason in College | SI.com
Keeping it on the diamond, SI's Peter King took some time Tuesday to remember a 1999 baseball game in Pullman between Washington State and USC. Why? Because on that day on the frozen tundra of the Palouse Steve Gleason took future Cy Young winner Barry Zito deep to center field. This one is well worth the read today.

Baseball

Cougar baseball eagerly awaits first pitch of season – The Daily Evergreen
WSU baseball opens its season Friday against University of California, Riverside, as part of a three-team invitational in Tempe, Arizona. The Cougars will play four games in three days; two against UC Riverside and two against University of Nebraska.

Cougars Open 2018 Facing UC Riverside, Nebraska in Arizona - Washington State University
Washington State opens its 2018 season with four games against Nebraska and UC Riverside at the Husker Classic in Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels.

Basketball

Washington State Returns Home to Host Colorado Thursday - Washington State University
Washington State men's basketball (9-15, 1-11) looks for its second-straight home win over the Buffaloes as it hosts Colorado (15-10, 7-6), Thursday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum.