Diamond Dawgs Open '06 Slate At NMSU

Feb. 7, 2006

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THIS WEEKEND: The Washington baseball team (33-22 overall, 12-12 in the Pac-10 in 2005) opens the 2006 season with a three-game series vs. New Mexico State (2-1) at Presley Askew Field in Las Cruces, N.M. The Huskies were ranked No. 38 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason top-40 poll but are unranked in all the current top-25 lists. The Aggies (2-1) took two of three from Utah in a series last weekend in Las Cruces and are scheduled to play host to New Mexico today (Tuesday). The Huskies face the Aggies Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 12. Game time each day is 1:00 p.m. MST (12 noon PST). Fans can listen to a live audio broadcast of each game via the Dawg Channel at gohuskies.com. The UW is expected to start RHP Tim Lincecum (Fri.), RHP Kyle Parker (Sat.) and LHP Tyler Cheney (Sun.). After the NMSU series, the Dawgs travel to Cal State Northridge before opening the home slate vs. Gonzaga.

Fri., Feb. 10: UW at New Mexico St., noon PST
Sat., Feb. 11: UW at New Mexico St., noon PST
Sun., Feb. 12: UW at New Mexico St., noon PST

Broadcasts on the Web: Once again this year, gohuskies.com and the Dawg Channel hope to provide either live video (home only) or live audio of every UW baseball game, presuming that the technical needs can be met at all of the various venues. A schedule for those web-only broadcasts will be posted as it comes along, but if not every game, nearly every game will be available. For information on how to listen to/watch the games, go to gohuskies.com, and click on the multimedia link. Also, 20 Husky games will air live on KKNW AM-1150. Those broadcasts will also be available via the internet. The first scheduled radio broadcasts are the series at California (Mar. 24-26).

SERIES HISTORY: Washington and New Mexico State have faced one another only twice, and both of those meetings took place at Cohen Stadium in El Paso, Texas, just down the road from Las Cruces, N.M. In 1992, in a season-opening tournament in El Paso, the Huskies picked up a 7-5 win. In 1995, the Huskies traveled to Las Cruces to play one game vs. NMSU and two vs. Nebraska. The Huskies and Huskers played both of their games in Las Cruces (a 35-15 Nebraska win and a 16-7 Husky triumph), but the NMSU-UW game was held at Cohen Stadium with the Aggies prevailing, 4-1.

COACH 'K': In 2004, Husky baseball coach Ken Knutson became the winningest baseball coach in the history of the program. That accomplishment is just one item on Knutson's impressive resume. In his 13-plus seasons at the helm of his alma mater's baseball team, Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles and six NCAA Regionals. His career record now stands at 461-295-2 (.609). Before becoming the head man in 1993, Knutson served as the UW pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his staff led the NCAA with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 227-97-2 (.699) record in home games. He is 194-136 (.588) in Pac-10 games. He's coached 46 first-team All-Pac-10 selections in 13 seasons, and has been named league coach of the year three times. A 1981 All-Pac-10 pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Donny Harrel, Tighe Dickinson and undergrad assistant Mike Rundle.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Here's a look at the probable starters at each position, with 2005 stats and notes:

Pos.  Player, Year  2005 Avg.-HR-RBI  Notes C -  Matt Lane, Jr.       .254-6-30  Missed 5 weeks last season with knee injury, also plays 1B      Joey Dunn, So.        .222-0-7  Started 29 games behind the plate as a freshman      D.J. Neyens, Sr.      .375-1-1  Senior who started only 1 last year earned time with good fall1B -  Curt Rindal, Jr.     .294-7-28  Slated to take over at 1B; Started 39 at DH last season2B -  Bradley Boyer, Fr.  1st season  3-time all-area selection at Enumclaw High      Ryan Anderson, So.    .417-0-1  Played in 13 games last year, going 5-for-12 at the plate3B -  Matt Stevens, So.     .276-2-6  Began to play regularly last year before breaking bone in hand      Brian Bauer, Sr. '04: .200-0-1  Senior took last year off from baseball; backs up at 3B, SSSS -  Danny Cox, Fr.      1st season  Freshman was 34th-round pick of Twins in June, 2005 draftOF -   Zach Clem, Sr.      .332-8-42  Most veteran Husky hitter boasts .332 career averageOF -  Matt Hague, So. (1B) .419-8-34  Lack of ABs (had 124, needed 138) kept him Pac-10 batting titleOF -   Michael Burgher, So. .200-0-2  Started seven games, played in 19 others, as a freshmanOF -  Cory Rickard, Sr.     .244-2-4  Senior LH-hitter can play LF, CF, RF, all-league in summer ballOF -  Nick Burnham, Sr.     .174-0-5  Senior has 22 career starts in the outfield; 5-5 career SB-AOF -  Kyle Conley, Fr.    1st season  Freshman slugger won 4A state title at Richland High last yearDH -  Jake Rife, Fr.      1st season  Speedy lefty could lead off; hit .450-plus all three HS seasonsUT -  Andy Lentz, So.       .196-1-4  Has started at 2B, LF, and CF; only one error all last year

LID-LIFTERS: Considering that the Huskies have only experienced one sub-.500 season in 13 years under coach Ken Knutson, it's perhaps a little surprising that the UW hasn't fared so well in season openers. Blame it on the Seattle weather (affecting practice) or the fact that, often, the Dawgs' opening day opponent already has a series or two under its belt when the Huskies play them. Either way, Washington is only 5-8 in season openers in 13 seasons under Knutson and have lost their last three (at UC Irvine last year, at San Diego in 2004 and at Pepperdine in 2003). In fact, the UW has scored only four runs total in the last four seasons openers. Here's a look at the Huskies' 12 season-openers during Coach Knutson's tenure:

Feb. 12, 2005  L, 3-6    at UC IrvineFeb. 13, 2004  L, 1-5    at San DiegoFeb. 7, 2003   L, 0-1    at PepperdineFeb. 14, 2002  W, 10-6   Missouri (at Phoenix)Feb. 22, 2001  W, 6-5    BYU (at Tucson)Feb. 17, 2000  L, 10-12  Creighton (at Phoenix)Feb. 11, 1999  W, 14-13  BYU (at St. George, Utah.)Feb. 13, 1998  W, 18-4   Florida Atlantic (at Viera, Fla.)Feb. 7, 1997   L, 10-12  at UNLVFeb. 16, 1996  L, 2-5    at Long Beach StateFeb. 17, 1995  L, 8-9    at Cal Poly San Luis ObispoFeb. 18, 1994  W, 8-4    Toledo (at San Diego, Calif.)Feb. 12, 1993  L, 2-3    at Texas A&M

SQUAD BREAKDOWN: Washington's 36-man roster is relatively young this year. The team includes six seniors, six juniors, 11 sophomores and 13 freshmen, meaning 24 of 36 are freshmen or sophomores. Twenty players are returners while 16 are new (13 of those 16 are true freshmen). The UW's returning players have competed in a total of 699 Husky baseball games, and have combined for 1,326 career at bats and 642 and one-third career innings pitched in a UW uniform.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Counting those in the 'others receiving votes' category, the preseason Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches' poll ranked 54 teams this season. Washington, which tied with Oklahoma for the No. 38 spot in that poll (if you count into the 'others receiving votes), will play at least 24 games against teams that received votes in the preseason ranking. Those 24 games come against nine different teams, including six conference opponents. The Huskies will play a total of 10 games against four teams ranked in the top 25 in the preseason poll - three each against No. 6 Oregon State, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 18 USC, plus at least one against No. 23 Arkansas. Well-respected baseball web site boydsworld.com ranks the Huskies' schedule as the 20th-toughest in the nation. Also as regards the schedule, the Huskies will play 31 home games this season and 30 on the road. Thirteen of the first 17 games will be on the road.

NORTHWEST FLAVOR: As is usually the case, the Husky baseball roster is made up primarily of players from the state of Washington. This year, however, it's nearly unanimous as 34 of the 36 players on the preseason roster are from the state of Washington. The only non-Washingtonians on the team is are freshman pitchers Bryce Mooney (Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Geoff Nichols (Portland, Ore.). For those unfamiliar with Northwest geography, both Lake Oswego and Portland are within a few miles of the border with Washington. Of the 34 in-state players, 29 are from the western part of the state (west of the Cascades).

PRESEASON ACCOLADES: The preseason publications offered a mixed forecast for the 2006 Husky Baseball season, but that's not all bad. After all, the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll, which selected the Dawgs to finish seventh in the conference, made the same prognositcation in 2003, when the Dawgs took third. In 2004, the preseason poll slotted the UW fifth, but the Huskies took second. The Huskies earned 10 points in the Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches' poll, good for a No. 37 ranking. Washington was ranked No. 38 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason top-40. Collegiate Baseball also selected Tim Lincecum a third-team preseason All-American. The NCBWA chose Lincecum as a second-team All-American, while Baseball American put him on the third time. Lincecum also made the Roger Clemens Award watch list. Baseball America, in its lengthy season preview, had a lot to say about the Huskies. Lincecum, along with the All-America recognition, was a preseason-All-Conference pick, the league's No. 9 2006 draft prospect in the Pac-10 and the No. 31 college draft prospect in the nation. Lincecum's breaking ball was also recognized as the best in both the conference and the nation. Fellow junior pitcher Kyle Parker was chosen as the No. 92 draft prospect in the nation while sophomore OF/P Matt Hague was tabbed a preseason All-Pac-10 first-teamer and the No. 39 sophomore player in the country. Finally, SS Danny Cox was listed as the nation's 42nd-best freshman.

POSITION PLAYER NOTES (in alphabetical order):
Ryan Anderson, Sophomore IF:
Possible starter at second base ... played in 13 games last season and went 5-for-12 at the plate ... batted .390 with the Everett (Wash.) Merchants during summer ball.

Brian Bauer, Senior IF: Returns to the baseball team after taking last year off ... backs up at 3B and SS and could start either place ... 4-for-14 combined in two previous UW seasons ... played at San Diego State in 2002.

Bradley Boyer, Freshman 2B: Possible starter at second base ... three-time all-area selection at Enumclaw High ... older brother, Billy, originally signed at the UW, but opted for pro ball and plays in the Angels organization.

Michael Burgher, Sophomore OF: Good chance to start the season in CF ... played in 26 games, starting seven, as a freshman last year, seeing time in CF and as a pinch runner ... srated twice in USC series.

Nick Burnham, Senior OF: Senior could push for starting job in CF ... started three games in 2004 and 19 last year, primarily in center ... went 6-for-20 over the first three weekends of last season.

Zach Clem, Senior OF: The most veteran offensive player on the team, Clem will start in left field again this season ... batted .332 with team-high (tied) eight homers last year despite battling injuries ... started 104 of a possible 115 games the last two years ... holds UW single-season and career records for hit by pitch with 24 and 39, respectively ... an All-Pac-10 first-teamer in 2004 and an honorable mention selection last year.

Kyle Conley, Freshman OF: Along with fellow UW freshman Tyler Cheney, led Richland High to the 4A state title last year ... all-state first-teamer as a senior outfielder and pitcher ... national runner-up in summer ball.

Danny Cox, Freshman SS: Slated as probable starter at SS in the season opener ... hit .438 with 28 RBI and 10 doubles as a senior at W.F. West High ... drafted by Minnesota in the 34th round of the 2005 draft.

Joey Dunn, Soph. C: Started 29 games last year, all behind the plate ... due to an injury to Matt Lane, started 21 of the season's last 22 games, including 19 Pac-10 games ... won a league title with Wenatchee (Wash.) over summer.

Jesse Ferguson, Junior OF: Spent last two years at Clemson after one season at Bellevue (Wash.) CC ... helped Clemson to NCAA Super Regionals last year ... all-NWAACC at BCC in 2003 ... redshirted 2004 season.

Matt Hague, Freshman OF/P/1B: Returns to his starting spot in RF, but could also play first base and will serve as a reliever ... moved into the starting lineup at midseason last year and caught fire, batting .419 with eight homers and 34 RBI in 124 at bats ... needed 138 at bats to qualify for the Pac-10 batting rankings, but even with the requisite number of at bats (and no more hits), would have batted .377 (would have been fifth in Pac-10) ... a preseason All-Pac-10 selection by Baseball America ... a second-team freshman All-America and honorable mention All-Pac-10 last year.

Jeff James, Junior 1B: Expected backup at 1B and pinch hit in first season at UW ... originally attended Cal Baptist (redshirted) before two seasons at Bellevue (Wash.) CC ... grandson of former UW football coach Don James.

Brett Kaluza, Freshman OF: Figures in the mix as a possible starter in CF ... named Seattle Times' Eastside Athlete of the Year as a senior at Skyline High ... runner-up in state in football and baseball as a senior.

Matt Lane, Junior C: The Huskies' No. 1 catcher last year before a knee injury April 8 ... didn't return to lineup until May 14, and then as DH only ... closed out his sophomore year with a bang, belting three homers in the season-ending three-game series at UCLA ... had a two-homer, seven-RBI game vs. Arizona last year.

Andy Lentz, Soph. IF/OF: Like last year, could see action at 2B, LF, CF or perhaps 3B ... started 13 games last year at 2B, LF an CF ... younger brother of UW sophomore P Richie Lentz and former third baseman Ryan Lentz.

Kiel Lillibridge, Soph. IF: In the mix at shortstop, where he backed up last year while also playing second base .. played in 19 games, starting 7 last season ... went 13-for-30 (.433) at the plate last season ... older brother, Brent, was a UW starter the last three years and now plays in the Pirates organization.

Matt Miller, Freshman OF: Freshman will push for time in crowded outfield ... only switch hitter on the team ... batted .450 with six homers, 21 RBI and 20 runs in 20 games as a senior at Redmond High.

D.J. Neyens, Senior C: Solid play in fall and winter has put him in the mix at catcher ... played in 16 games with one start last year, going 3-for-8 at the plate ... played previous two seasons at nearby Edmonds CC, helping Tritons to the NWAACC title his freshman year and a third-place finish his sophomore season.

Trevor Petersen, Freshman 1B: Three-time team captain at Seattle Christian High ... state 1A co-MVP as a senior, when he batted .609 with 11 homers and 33 RBI in 17 games.

Cory Rickard, Senior OF: Played in 21 games, starting 10, last season ... top day was a 4-for-6 outing April 9 at UC Riverside ... two-time team MVP at Spokane Falls CC before coming to the UW.

Jake Rife, Freshman OF: Could vie for starting DH spot ... profiles as a leadoff hitter ... batted over .450 in each of his last three seasons at Lakewood High ... 2A state MVP as a senior.

Curt Rindal, Junior 1B: Has emerged as the No. 1 choice at 1B after spending most of last season as the top-choice DH ... started 38 games at DH and one at first ... named Pac-10 Player of the Week after the Washington State series last year, when he went 8-for-15 with three homers and 12 RBI in a three-game series.

Matt Stevens, Soph. 3B: Enters the season as the probable starter at third base ... played in 14 games, starting seven, last year ... was just starting to become a regular when he broke a bone in his hand in late March ... started at 3B, RF, LF and DH ... 8-for-29 (.276) at the plate as a freshman.

PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER NOTES:
Fri. - Tim Lincecum, Junior RHP:
Named either a second or third-team All-American by all the preseason publications heading into the 2006 season ... enters his junior year with a carer record of 18-9 and a 3.32 earned run average ... has struck out 292 and allowed only 145 hits in 216.2 career innings ... entering the season opener, is only 11 strikeouts short of the UW career-record of 303 (Jeff Heaverlo, 1997-99) .. already has the top two single-season totals in Husky history: 161 in 2004 and 131 last year ... also could break several other UW career marks this season as he ranked 10th in wins with 18 (record is 27), eighth in career starts with 34 (record is 49) and while he doesn't rank in the top-10 in innings pitched, he's only 67.1 innings shy of the record ... drafted by the Cubs in 2003 and by the Indians last season ... led the Pac-10 last season with a .179 opponent batting average ... over the summer, led the Cape Cod League with a 0.69 ERA and a .104 opponent batting average ... allowed only 14 hits and 11 walks while fanning 68 in 39.1 innings for the Harwich (Mass.) Mariners ... All-Pac-10 first-team selection last year when he was 8-6 with 3.11 ERA ... Pac-10 Pitcher and Freshman of the Year in 2004 ... Collegiate Baseball's National Freshman of the Year in 2004 ... has the best breaking pitch in the nation, according to Baseball America's season preview ... career-high 15 strikeouts came in a six-inning outing Mar. 12, 2004 vs. Loyola Marymount ... had a 14-K outing last season vs. Pacific in which he fanned 10 in the first three innings ... the Gatorade state player of the year for Washington in 2003 ... led Liberty High to the 3A state title and was the state's 3A MVP and first-team all-state pitcher ... as a HS senior, posted a 12-1 record and a 0.70 ERA while striking out 183 batters in 91.2 innings.

Sat. - Kyle Parker, Junior RHP: Has spent the better part of the last two seasons as a regular in the starting rotation ... has made 25 career starts and as a 12-10 career won-lost record ... 8-7 last year after a 4-3 freshman season ... opponents have batted only .248 off of him during his career ... had a solid summer with the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League, going 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA ... named the nation's No. 92 college draft prospect by Baseball America magazine ... in summer, 2004, pitched a five-hit shutout in the championship game of the National Baseball Congress World Series to lift Aloha (Ore.) to the title.

Sun. - Tyler Cheney, Freshman LHP: True freshman slated to start on Sunday of the season's opening series ... teamed with Husky classmate Kyle Conley to lead Richland High to the 4A (highest level) state championship last year ... in the state tournament, threw a two-hit shutout in the semifinal game before hitting a two-run homer in the championship, a 2-1 win over Skyline ... named the state's 4A MVP and was a first-team all-state pick as both a first baseman and pitcher.

BULLPEN NOTES: Elliott Cribby (So. RHP) is expected to see significant action from the outset ... played one season (2004) at Columbia Basin CC, but missed 2005 due to injury ... 3-0 with 1.24 ERA in 2004 .. helped Wenatchee (Wash.) to the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League title last summer, going 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA after recovering from injury ... Jason Erickson (Fr. RHP) should see action as a reliever ... Seamount League MVP as a HS senior ... two-time all-league pitcher and also an all-league SS ... drafted by the Reds in the 45th round in 2005 ... Adrian Gomez (Fr. LHP) was a four-time all-league selection at Prairie High ... league MVP as a junior and senior .. 6-2, 0.91 ERA as a senior ... Nick Hagadone (So. LHP) should see his action expanded after throwing in two games last year ... pitched in games vs. Utah Valley State and St. Martin's last year (0-0, 4.50) ... drafted by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 2004 draft ... first-team all-league and team MVP as a senior at Sumner High ... Matt Hague (Fr. RHP) saw action out of the bullpen during the first part of last year, but a hot bat moved him into the lineup and he saw little mound action in the second half of the year ... nonetheless, appeared in 13 games, going 1-2 with a 6.52 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19.1 innings ... first-team all-state as a pitcher in high school, when he led Kentwood to the 2004 4A state title ... Nick Haughian (Fr. LHP) was one of the state's most highly decorated pitchers in 2005, when he led Marysville-Pilchuck with a 10-0 record and a 0.68 ERA ... named his area's player of the year by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Everett Herald ... posted a 20-1 career record in high school ... struck out 114 in 61.2 innings his senior year ... Matt Kasser (Sr. RHP) should see time as a starter and reliever in 2006 ... the lone senior on the UW pitching staff ... has started 22 games and relieved in 19 others during his UW career ... started in 12 of 15 appearances last season ... had a solid summer with the Fairbanks (Alaska) Goldpanners, notching a 5-0 record with a 2.05 ERA ... Richie Lentz (So. RHP) threw only two innings last year before undergoing 'Tommy John' surgery ... won't be ready for the start of the season, but continues to progress and could return soon ... one of the nation's hardest throwers prior to surgery ... pitched in 20 games (8 starts) as a freshman, when he fanned 52 in 49.2 innings ... Brandon McKerney (So. RHP) led the Huskies with 25 appearances as a freshman last season ... started two games and relieved in 23 others ... 25 appearances tied for seventh-most in UW history ... earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention ... posted a 4-0 record and a 3.89 ERA as a true freshman in 2005 ... Bryce Mooney (Fr. RHP) earned first-team all-league as a pitcher and infielder last year at Lake Oswego High outside Portland, Ore. ... posted an 11-2 record with a 1.22 ERA as a senior ... helped team to a state championship his junior year ... Geoff Nichols (Fr. RHP) earned All-Metro first-team honors as a senior at Portland's Jesuit High last year ... notched an 8-2 record for his summer team, helping it to a regional championship.

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