2005 Baseball Outlook
Jan. 13, 2005
PULLMAN, Wash. - The 2005 Washington State baseball team will enter a new era this season, the Don Marbut Era. The former assistant enters his first year as head coach at WSU with a squad of 14 returnees, seven transfers and 14 freshmen.
Marbut, who is the 14th head coach in Cougar history, is not a new name to the returning members of this season's squad. In the fall of 2003, Marbut joined the WSU coaching staff as an assistant coach after four years as head coach at Edmonds Community College. The Cougar head coach won 80 percent of his games at Edmonds CC, beginning in 2000, with a 152-38 record and the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships in both 2002 and 2003. In his final year at the helm of the Tritons, he guided the club to a 43-7 record, the best mark ever achieved in the NWAACC.
Also returning to the WSU staff will be pitching coach, Ryan Brust, his third season with the Cougars as an assistant coach. New to the staff this season will be associate head coach Travis Jewett, who returns to the Palouse after serving as an assistant coach at Washington the last three seasons and before that a stint at Gonzaga. The WSU graduate (1993) will be responsible for hitting, as well as recruitment. Rounding out the coaching staff will be another new addition, volunteer assistant Duggan Moran.
'I'm really excited about the coaching staff we have assembled this season,' says Marbut. 'We've done a great job getting the team ready up to this point and we are anxious for the season to begin.'This season WSU looks improve on last year's winning campaign, 29-26, and the most wins since 1994.
'There's a sense of urgency with this club,' states Marbut. 'They have high expectations of themselves. I think this team is really excited to get going and spark some more interest in the program and prove some people wrong.'
Highlighting the pack of returning Cougars are three veterans Marbut expects to '...cause some serious havoc for Pacific-10 opponents.' Seniors Jason Freeman and Kaeo Rubin, as well as junior Jay Miller, are expected to fill the one-two-three slots in the batting order, as well as all three outfield positions. The trio led the Cougars in batting last season with, Miller, a two time All-Pac-10 honorable mention honoree, hitting a team-leading .355. Miller also led WSU hitters the previous season as a freshman. In 2004 Freeman finished second and edged Rubin in the batting race, hitting .344 and .341 respectively. Rubin did lead the Cougars in several offensive categories, including at-bats, 214, runs scored, 64, hits, 73, doubles, 16, and triples, three. Freeman, who was the starting second baseman in 2004, led WSU in stolen bases with 12. Also returning to the outfield this spring will be co-captain Zach Kosturos, who also will see plate time as the designated hitter.Regarding the veteran outfield Marbut said, 'In those four guys, we have some real veterans with power, success at the plate and experience. That is nice to see.'
The Cougar coaches also expect a pair of freshmen to push for outfield duty. 'We believe Kyle Henselman and Garrett Kimbrel both have the ability to play in the already stacked outfield this season,' says Marbut.
The Cougar infield will be a mixture of veterans and newcomers. Starting at third base will be Zach McAngus, who is expected to provide solid defense at the hot corner as well as hit in the middle of the order. McAngus, who drove in 32 runs last season, will again be called upon to provide offensive power and drive home runs this season.'We have big hopes for Zach in the future,' Marbut says. 'We think he has potential to be one of the best third basemen in our conference. He has power as well as defensive potential.'
The other infield positions will be relatively young. At first base, freshman Jimmy Murphy is expected to be a major contribution to the squad. As a senior at Juanita High School, Murphy earned All-State honors while leading his team with a .464 average.
At second base, returning sophomore Jeff Miller, brother of Jay, is expected to get the starting nod. Both freshman Matt Thomas and last year's starting shortstop, sophomore Justin McClure, are expected to see time at shortstop. Behind the plate will be one of six transfers to the WSU program, senior Brady Everett, who joined the Cougars from Clemson. He is slated to be the WSU every day catcher after an impressive fall season.
Marbut also is expecting great Cougar careers for a pair of young infielders, Scott Suttmeier and Nick Hall. 'Both are outstanding hitters who have a chance to make an immediate impact,' predicts the Cougar coach.
'The pitching staff is a little young and a little old,' offers Marbut. 'It's really versatile. We haven't decided who our Friday night, Saturday and Sunday starters will be, which is good because it means guys are still battling for the spots.'Battling for one of three starting mound spots is red-shirt senior Jimmy Freeman.
'Jimmy was probably one of the biggest surprises of the fall,' Marbut said. 'He had a great summer and came in very competitive and turned himself into a number one starter.'Others vying for spots in the starting rotation include senior Brett Sommer and sophomore Wayne Daman, Jr. Last spring, Daman led the pitching staff in appearances, 21, and finished second with an earned run average of 4.74. Despite only having three starts last season, Marbut has larger expectations for Daman this season.
'He received a lot of experience last season as a freshman. We expect him to take an even larger role this year, whether it's a starting role or as a closer.'
In the pen, senior Dane Renkert will be a staple in relief action.'Renkert will have a chance to lead the conference in appearances, he's going to come in a lot,' says Marbut. 'We are going to give the ball to Dane when it's important because he's confident in his ability. He works at his game and really knows how to pitch.'
Expectations are also high for lefty Reese Baker, a junior transfer. 'Reese will be counted on to fill a starting role. He has the ability to be a weekend pitcher for the next two years,' offers Marbut.Freshmen are also claiming their spots on the Cougar pitching staff. The Cougars will have three freshmen who are expected to see mound time, two left handers and right handed thrower. Steve Kost, a left handed pitcher out of Bellevue High School, is pushing his way into a starting slot. Left handed Jayson Miller and the lone right hander, Dustin Willis, are both expected see time out of the pen for WSU.
The Cougars will face a demanding schedule this season. In the first five weeks of the season, the team will play 18 games in five different states, including Louisiana and Hawaii. In Pac-10 play, the Cougars will face their toughest competition at home. This season WSU will welcome to Pullman the Stanford Cardinal, Washington Huskies and Arizona Wildcats, who made a trip to the College World Series in 2004. Outside of conference play, the Cougars will continue many of the WSU baseball traditions, including a three game series in Pasco (Portland Pilots), are participation in the Banana Belt Tournament, where WSU is the reigning champion.