Q & A With UW Baseball Coach Ken Knutson -- Season Preview

Dec. 10, 2004

Coach Ken Knutson recently sat down once again with gohuskies.com to preview the upcoming 2005 Husky baseball season. Expectations will be high for a Washington team that took second place in the powerful Pac-10 a year ago and returns its entire starting pitching staff and experienced players at nearly every position.

In this installment of Q&A with the Diamond Dawgs' skipper, Coach `K' fills us in on the Huskies' pitching situation. In the next edition, Knutson will preview the position players.

gohuskies.com: You return your starting weekend rotation in tact. Is it safe to assume they'll hold down their spots as you head into the season?

Ken Knutson: We're just going to go with what we finished with. Everybody played well enough during the fall to hold onto their spots. They pitched so well last year, especially at the end of the season. So, it's Lincecum, Parker and Kasser with Everitt pushing them. Plus, we have Ponzoha and Dowling coming back as starters and long relief guys.

gohuskies.com: Tell us about Tim Lincecum:

KK: Tim's going to be a year older and that much more mature. He pitched great last year, but I think he'd tell you that as good as he was, he had some things he felt he could improve. I know he wants to cut down his walks and get deeper into games. He wants to establish himself as our ace and the leader of our staff.

gohuskies.com: How about Kyle Parker?:

KK: Kyle, like Tim, his problem last year at times was that he'd have streaks of wildness. He pitched so well during the summer. Part of the turning point for us last season was when Kyle was put in the starting rotation. He gave us some really good games. He led off some Friday nights too with Tim in the bullpen. He's just really good. His stuff is nasty. He competes really well and he's very mature for his age. I think a full season in the rotation and if he can out those few inconsistent stretches, he can be a dominant pitcher. I think he'll compete with Lincecum and some others in the Pac-10 to be one of the best pitchers in the league.

gohuskies.com: And your No. 3 guy at this point is Matt Kasser?

KK: He gave us some really good games when he began starting last year, but it was his first year starting. The three of them are all sort of the same in that regard. They all have a solid year behind them and now let's see if they'll improve. You figure they will because they'll be more comfortable since they have that experience and know what to expect. Matt was really good down the stretch and pitched great the regionals.

gohuskies.com: Keaton Everitt spent some of last season as a starter. What's his role this season?:

KK: He had only a couple innings going into last season, so he was essentially a freshman too. He gave us a lot of good innings. He was really good early. His thing is about his command because his stuff is really good. We have an unusual schedule this year where we have six games in four days at one point and a lot of midweek games. For our overall team success, we have to be good in that fifth and even sixth starting role. We have to have some people that can get it done there. I'm hoping Keaton can do that for us. And the weeks we don't have those extra games, I want to have in the bullpen and be able to utilize him if he's not one of the three starters. He's going to pitch some very important innings for us.

gohuskies.com: It must be nice to have an experienced senior like David Dowling back and healthy?:

KK: I thought last year, one of the biggest things we were missing was Dowling. He won seven games the year before, and last year he pitched only about 20 innings. David is back and healthy. We figured out some things after he had some unusual injuries. I think we have a handle on it. He's back and throwing the ball well. He's a senior that was elected a captain by his teammates. Keaton and David give us experienced fourth and fifth starters.

gohuskies.com: Tell us about the rest of your staff - the guys that will make up the rest of your bullpen?:

KK: Richie Lentz was a closer over the summer. He's got the stuff and the mentality to be our closer. It'll be new for him at this level, but I think he's perfectly suited for it. We'll have a power arm coming in at the back end of games. Then we'll look for support from the rest of the staff.

Jordan Ponzoha goes into that mix with David and Keaton as a long reliever that will push the starters. He pitched a fair amount as a freshman and we'll look for him to improve. He's maturing physically.

Josh Conover is now throwing exclusively sidearm and he's throwing hard. It's just a matter of having success like he did at the end of last season. If he can build on that, he can really help our bullpen. I see him giving right-handed hitters fits.

We're trying Taylor Johnson [the UW's starting right fielder] out of the bullpen. He's always had that power arm. He pitched during the fall and had some success. He's an option for us as a left-handed power arm. It's 90-plus miles per hour and he throws it easy. He's a natural out there as far as the way he looks. You wouldn't know that he hasn't pitched before.

Brandon McKerney, Matt Hague and Nick Hagadone all pitched well during the fall. They'll get the first shot. Emmanuel Pedroza will compete with those guys. He's improved a ton. Maybe out of everyone, he's improved the most. It's just a matter of experience and how he's going to react during a game.

Kyle Carson, we feel, has a huge upside. He had a limited fall because he had some elbow problems when he showed up here. He was one of our top recruits.

Andrew Powell threw very well in the fall. Statistically, he came out about third or fourth on the staff. He just got people out. We're looking for a jump up in his velocity, but the potential is there. Benji Brown throws down low with an unusual delivery and he has a pretty good slider. He had a good fall. He's aggressive and he competed well. And finally, there's Casey Bollinger, who was out during the fall with an injury. We'll have to wait and see what he can do, but he looks promising.

gohuskies.com: That wraps up the preview of the UW pitching staff. Check back here in a few weeks to hear from the coach as he tells us about the Husky hitters.

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