In case you’ve missed it... It’s winter.
Our friends in the great northwest are suffering through the great “snow-pocalypse” of 2019. Meanwhile, my first Chicago winter greeted me with constant freezing rain that encased my windshield in an impenetrable icy shield and a polar vortex that saw wind chill temperatures reach 50-below.
Winter has been rough on all of us. The good news is that summer is just around the corner, and the first sign of summer is the return of baseball.
First pitch in the college game is set for Friday across the country. The Cougs also open up on Friday when they take on Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif. To get ready for the season, the Pac-12 released their preseason coaches poll earlier this week. And, after a 16-33-1 campaign last season, the Cougs checked in at 10th with 15 points, placing ahead of last place Utah, who had 14 points in the poll. You can check out the full poll here.
The low expectations aren’t exactly surprising for the Cougs in year four under manager Marty Lees. WSU underwent a lot of turnover, adding 21 new faces, including 16 high school recruits and five transfers. The Cougs lost five players from their starting nine and bring back just two pitchers that recorded more than five starts in the 2018 season. It’s going to be a young squad on the field in 2019. The lack of depth that comes with the turnover hurts, but the Cougs are excited about the potential.
“There’s some pieces that can be put together,” Lees told CougFan. “I wish we had a little more depth in terms of our position players, but I feel like at each spot, we’re really solid.”
On offense, the Cougs will be driven by Dillon Plew. He hit .277 in 50 games last season and will likely be the top returner player on a team that lost their top three offensive players from last season. On defense, he’s split time between second and third base during his career, but will make the move to first base this season.
Washington State opens with four games at St. Mary’s starting on Friday (and including a doubleheader on Saturday). They’ll stay in California for four against Santa Clara starting February 21 before heading to Pullman for their home opener against Nevada in a four game set starting February 28.
Elsewhere in the coaches poll, Oregon State was picked to finish 3rd in the conference. The Beavers are the defending national champions, but they’re preparing for the season with out legendary head coach Pat Casey, who retired back in September. UCLA finished in the top spot, while the defending conference champions from Stanford were voted 2nd.
Pac-12 baseball coaches vote UCLA as 2019 favorite | Pac-12
UCLA tabbed to win the 2019 Pac-12 baseball crown second baseman Chase Strumpf, first baseman Michael Toglia and outfielder Jeremy Ydens leading the way.
WSU baseball: Lees says new faces a strength, not a concern
Fourth-year coach Marty Lees isn't fretting about growing pains this spring. At least, Lees appears visibly confident ahead of the Cougars’ season-opener at St. Mary’s on Friday.
Dates set for spring camp at Washington State; details for Crimson and Gray game revealed | The Spokesman-Review
Gage Gubrud will don the blue practice jersey at Washington State for the first time on March 21, and fans wishing to observe the Cougars’ impending quarterback competition will have 15 opportunities to do so throughout spring camp.
Adding Gage Gubrud is a smart move for WSU's young QB class
Can the Washington State Cougars strike gold again with another graduate transfer at quarterback? 710 ESPN Seattle's Jessamyn McIntyre and Dave Wyman think the signing is good news for the Cougs.
Washington State’s Robert Franks named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week | The Spokesman-Review
Robert Franks collected three awards Monday for his efforts in Washington State’s road sweep of the Arizona schools and followed up with a fourth on Tuesday.