Cougars Open Diamond Season At Sacramento State
Feb. 1, 2005
Cougar Diamond Summary
The Washington State baseball team will begin its 2005 season under the guidance of first-year head coach Donnie Marbut with a three-game series at Sacramento State Friday-Sunday. The opener begins at 2 p.m. Friday, with Saturday and Sunday's games scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Cougars return 13 letterwinners and add 20 newcomers to the roster, including 13 freshmen and seven transfers. Three of the transfers join WSU from other Division I institutions.
The projected starters include two freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and three seniors among the eight position players.
Freshmen Jim Murphy and Matthew Thomas are slated to start at first and shortstop, respectively, along with sophomore Jeff Miller at second. Miller saw reserve duty in 2004. Third base will be anchored by veteran Zach McAngus, who hit .298 last year as a sophomore.
The Cougar starting outfielders, junior Jay Miller and seniors Kaeo Rubin and Jason Freeman, all earned Pac-10 honorable mention accolades in 2004 and were the top three WSU batters last season. Freeman was the Cougars' regular second baseman a year ago, but this season returns to his natural position.
Several new hurlers who joined the WSU program this year are slated for relief duty, including freshmen Steve Kost, Jason Miller and Matt Oye. Sophomore transfer Nick Cebula will also see mound duty, while returning veterans Dane Renkert and Brett Sommer are also expected to see early season action.
Sharing captain responsibilities are senior Dane Renkert and juniors Zach Franklin and Zach Kosturos. Of the 33 players on the Cougar roster, 29 hail from Washington and both Marbut and Jewett also come from the Evergreen State.
MARBUT TALKS ABOUT COUGS:
'We're just excited to get going and play somebody in a different uniform. We plan on leaning on some of our veterans offensively including Miller, Rubin and Freeman.
'With their experience they give us an opportunity to score some runs. We have some familiarity with Sac State, but with a new year it usually brings a new team and they are as brand new as we are.
'They are a well coached club and we look forward to going out there and seeing what the team can do against an outside opponent..
'I think the team is off to a good start,' junior co-captain Zach Kosturos said. 'Our goal is to make a regional and to do that we need to win games. It would be a big thing to win two games or sweep in our first weekend out, especially for the younger players who have yet to play college ball.'
COUGS HIT FIELD EARLY: In past years Washington State was limited in early-season outdoor practice time, but with WSU's new FieldTurf baseball diamond, Cougar players have been enjoying mild weather while holding intrasquad games and practices outdoors since the middle of January. 'We have been on our new field every day since January 19,' says new head coach Don Marbut.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: During the first five weeks of the 2005 season, the Cougars will play 18 games in five different states...WSU will travel to California and Louisiana before returning to Washington to host Portland for a home series in Pasco...the Cougars then travel to starting third baseman Zach McAngus' homestate of Hawaii...they will finish their road-trip series in Lewiston, Idaho for the annual Banana Belt Tournament beginning March 3...in the first five weeks the Cougars will travel roughly 16,000 miles round trip...the last time the Cougars traveled to five states in the first five weeks was in 2000 when they traveled roughly 10,000 miles.
PAC-10 TEAMS RANK AMONG BEST: Four of WSU's conference opponents are ranked in the top 25 in both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper preseason polls...Stanford is ranked sixth in both polls, the highest of any Pac-10 team...behind the Cardinal in the Baseball America poll is Washington (eighth) Arizona State (ninth) and Arizona (12th)...in the Collegiate Baseball rankings, following the Cardinal are Arizona State (11th), Arizona (12th) and Washington (17th).
TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Cougars will face six teams that played in the post-season last year...five conference foes, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington, all made a regional appearance, with the Wildcats making it to the College World Series...Lewis-Clark State made it to the NAIA World eries.
IMPROVEMENT EARNS NATIONAL RANKING: Between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, the Cougars were the 15th most improved team in the nation...in 2003 WSU finished the season with an 19-37 overall record...in 2004 it finished the season 29-26...the Cougars improved 10.5 games in 2004...the most improved team in the nation following the 2004 season was Prairie View, which improved its final record by 19.5 games.
THE WASHINGTON CONNECTION: The 2005 Washington State team consists of 31 Washington natives including head coach Donnie Marbut and associate coach Travis Jewett...four Cougar players hail from Bellevue...Kennewick, Woodinville and Spokane are each home to a pair of players...other Washington cities that made the Cougar geographic roster are Beaver, Bellingham, Burien, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Longview, Moses Lake, Olympia, Renton, Richland, Sammamish, Spanaway, Tacoma, Vancouver and Walla Walla...Marbut is a Aberdeen native and Jewett calls Tacoma home.
MARBUT AND THE EDMONDS CONNECTION: Four current Cougars played for WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut during his tenure as head coach at Edmonds Community College...former Tritons new to the squad this year are Eric Dingwall and Brady Everett...Kaeo Rubin and Zach Kosturos both played under Marbut at Edmonds before coming to WSU last season...all four players won a NWAACC Championship under Marbut....Everett and Rubin were freshmen on the 2002 championship squad....Everett was named to the NWAACC All-Star team and Rubin earned NWAACC Northern Division second team and all-tournament team honors...Rubin, Kosturos and Dingwall helped set a league record 43 wins and another championship in 2003...both Kosturos and Rubin earned first team all-league honors...Rubin was named the MVP of the NWAACC Northern Division league tournament...Marbut was named NWAACC Coach of the year in both 2002 and 2003.
'All the players we have from Edmonds are impact players,' Marbut said. 'Playing at WSU is a good opportunity to showcase their talent in the Pac-10, not just because I coached them at Edmonds. They are very capable players who will play a big role in our teams' success this year.'
'It's been a good experience (playing for Marbut),' junior Zach Kosturos said. 'He's a good coach and I've learned a lot from him. He has a great coaching staff at WSU which allows him to delegate some coaching responsibilities, which is different from Edmonds.'
NO GAPS IN COUGAR OUTFIELD: Starting in the Washington State outfield will be junior Jay Miller and seniors Jason Freeman and Kaeo Rubin...the three led the team in hitting last season with Miller edging out Freeman for first, .355 to .344...Rubin was third with a .341 batting average...all three earned Pac-10 honorable mention accolades...Miller also earned all-academic honorable mention kudos...Freeman played second base last season but will return to his natural position in the outfield for 2005.
COUGARS EXCELL IN SUMMER: WSU seniors Dane Renkert and Kaeo Rubin and sophomore Jeff Miller earned All-Pacific International League honors last summer...Rubin and Renkert were named to the first team of what is considered the Northwest's premier summer collegiate league...Rubin helped lead the Aloha Knights in winning the 2004 National Baseball Congress Championship and the All-American Invitational tournament where he was named MVP...Renkert posted six wins without a loss and recorded two saves for the Bellingham Bells...Miller was named to the All-PIL second team leading the Kirkland Kodiaks with 47 hits and 27 runs scored.
AN ALL NEW PLAYING FIELD: WSU is one of the few colleges in the nation to play on an artificial surface baseball field...in 2004 the Cougars became the first NCAA Division I team to have FieldTurf as its playing surface...WSU joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Minnesota Twins as part of the exclusive group of baseball teams to use FieldTurf as their playing field...the Cougar baseball diamond is ringed with a brownish red warning track and includes base paths of the same color...the only dirt on WSU's baseball field is the pitching mound and around home plate...included in the renovation project completed before the 2004 season were new dugouts for both teams.
COUGAR BASEBALL RANKS SEVENTH IN ALL-TIME NCAA VICTORIES: Washington State University is ranked seventh in all-time NCAA Division I baseball victories with 2,330 at the end of the 2004 season...a list of the top seven baseball programs appears below with their respective records and number of seasons played through 2004: