Diamond Dawgs Set to Begin 2001 Slate

Feb. 19, 2001

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THIS WEEK: The Washington baseball team opens the 2001 slate this week as the Dawgs travel to Tucson, Ariz., to play in the Illini Desert Classic at the Kino Sports Complex, spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Huskies open the season against Brigham Young (7-6) with a 1:00 p.m. (MT) game on Thursday. On Friday, the Dawgs face Kentucky (2-5) in a 3:00 p.m. contest, and on Saturday, the UW closes out the weekend with a 6:00 p.m. game vs. tournament host Illinois (0-2). Washington, with its Feb. 22 season-opening date, is the last Division I school in the west to begin its season. It's also the Huskies' latest start since the 1990 season. Here's a glance at the week's games (Husky starting pitchers are yet to be determined):

Thu., Feb.22: UW vs. Brigham Young, Tucson, Ariz., 1:00 p.m. MT
Fri., Feb. 23: UW vs. Kentucky, Tucson, Ariz., 3:00 p.m. MT
Sat., Feb. 24: UW vs. Illinois, Tucson, Ariz., 6:00 p.m. MT

SERIES HISTORY: Washington and Brigham Young have become regular non-conference opponents, and every one of the 15 all-time meetings have come in early-season tournaments. BYU is 11-4 all-time against the Huskies, though Washington has won the last two and four of the last eight games against the Cougars. Most recently, the Huskies played BYU twice in the 1999 season at a tournament in St. George, Utah, winning 14-13 (the '99 season opener) and 8-7. Current UW assistant coach Daniel Jahn picked up the win in the 14-13 game while Marc Rittenhouse (the only current Dawg hitter ever to face BYU) went 0-for-0 with four walks, a sac, a sac fly and four RBI. Rittenhouse went 2-for-3 in the 8-7 game as Jeff Carlsen picked up the win. Coach Ken Knutson is 2-3 in five meetings vs. BYU as head coach. The UW is only 15-30 all-time vs. current Mountain West Conference members. The Huskies have never faced Kentucky, and are only 2-5 vs. Southeastern Conference teams (1-1 vs. Tennessee, 1-4 vs. Mississippi State). The Huskies are 1-1 vs. Illinois, with both meetings coming in a tournament at Texas A&M in 1991. Husky starting pitcher John Terhes got the loss in a 4-2 Illini win and then picked up the victory three days later in an 8-1 UW victory. The Huskies are 10-8 all-time vs. Big Ten teams.

COACH 'K': In eight seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and three NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 285-185 (.606). With those 285 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in UW history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422). Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 139-52 (.728) record in home games. He is 130-80 (.619) in conference games. Knutson has coached 35 first-team All-Pac-10 selections in eight seasons, and has been named league caoch of the year three times. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistant coaches Joe Ross, Ed Gustafson, and Joe Weis and undergraduate assistant Daniel Jahn.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Here's a look at the probable starters at each position, with 2000 stats and notes:

Pos.  Player, Year          Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C -- Jefferson Thiel, So.  .265-5-21   1st-team Freshman All-America last season1B -- Bryan Johnson, So.    .196-1-4    Batted .327 with wood bat last summer2B -- Marc Rittenhouse, Sr. .257-12-36  Co-captain, 12 HRs last yearSS -- Tila Reynolds, So.    .275-1-19   Hit .302 over last 35 games in 20003B -- Michael Done, Jr.     .266-7-36   Has stolen 9 straight without being caughtRF -- Tyler Davidson, So.   .345-6-34   Honorable mention freshman All-America in 2000LF -- Jay Garthwaite, So.   .287-12-36  12 HR last season set a UW freshman recordCF -- Ben Miller, Jr.       .286-1-6    Eight hits in last 16 at bats of 2000 seasonCF -- Justin Drake, So.     .200-1-6    Made 20 starts in center field in 2000CF -- Brandon Jacobson, So.  1st year   Hit .393 at Bellevue CC in 2000DH -- Duggan Moran, Sr.     .080-0-3    Switch hitter also plays first base

TRAVEL INFORMATION: The Huskies will depart for Tucson on Wednesday with a 5:09 p.m. flight, arriving in Tucson on 9:57 p.m. Mountain Time. While in Tucson, the Huskies will stay at the Holiday Inn Palo Verde (phone: (520) 746-1161). The Dawgs depart Arizona Sunday at 9:55 a.m., arriving in Seattle at 1:35 p.m.

CUBA TRIP: Last September, the Husky baseball team travelled to Cuba for a week of baseball. The Dawgs were to play four games against the Cubans, with a fifth game pitting two mixed teams (half Huskies, half Cubans) against one another. Washington went 2-2 against teams made up of Cuban pros and the mixed game was rained out. Washington was the first major college team to play in Cuba.

FRESHMAN HONORS: Throughout the second half of last season, Washington's everyday lineup included four freshmen: RF Tyler Davidson, DH Jay Garthwaite, SS Tila Reynolds and C Jefferson Thiel. All four closed out the year by earning some level of freshman All-America honors for their strong play. Thiel was named the first-team Freshman All-America catcher by USA Today Baseball Weekly. Davidson, Garthwaite and Reynolds each earned honorable mention Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball and were also named honorable mention All-Pac-10.

ONE YEAR OLDER: Washington fielded its youngest team since 1996 last season, with four freshmen in the everyday starting lineup and only one senior on the roster. The Huskies are hoping that they can repeat what happened with that young '96 squad, which went on to win Pac-10 Championships in 1997 and 1998. This season, Washington returns 24 players that played last season, plus two redshirts. Offensively, returning players started 66 percent of last year's games, and accounted for 64 percent of the Huskies' at bats, runs and hits. Returners hit 46 of the Dawgs' 67 home runs (69 percent) and stole 51 of 88 stolen bases (58 percent). On the mound, the Huskies are even more experienced. Members of the 2001 roster made 156 appearances last season and accounted for 77 percent (20) of the Huskies' 26 wins and 73 percent of starts (41 of 56). Returning pitchers worked 382 innings (79 percent) and fanned 300 (76 percent).

LID LIFTERS: Washington blew a late lead and fell to Creighton, 12-10, in last year's season opener, played at Papago Park in Phoenix, Ariz. That loss broke the Huskies' modest two-game win streak in season openers. This year's Feb. 22 opening date is the UW's latest start since the Dawgs beat Central Washington, 6-1, on Feb. 22, 1990. Prior to that, the Husky baseball season routinely started in March. Over the last 10 seasons, the Dawgs are only 4-6 in season openers and coach Ken Knutson is 3-5 in such games. Here's a look at the last 10 UW season openers:

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    vs. 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-SLOFeb. 18, 1994   W, 8-4     vs. Toledo (at San Diego)Feb. 12, 1993   L, 2-3     at Texas A&MFeb. 12, 1992   L, 10-19   vs. Oklahoma (at El Paso)Feb. 1, 1991    W, 8-5     at Hawai'i

POSITION PLAYER NOTES (in alphabetical order):

TYLER DAVIDSON, Soph. OF: Expected to be the Huskies' everyday starter in right field ... began his freshman year last season on the bench, but ended up starting 28 of the last 30 ... cracked the starting lineup April 5 at Washington State, when he went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a home run, and an intentional walk in his last at bat ... top batting average (.345) among returning players ... 17 of 38 hits last year were for extra bases ... recorded 34 RBI in only 36 games played ... named honorable mention freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball.

MICHAEL DONE, Junior 3B: Started all but two games at third base last season and should hold down that spot again in 2001 ... stole 10 bases on 11 tries last year, and has gone nine straight steal attempts without being caught ... hit two triples on opening day last year, vs. Creighton ... made only 14 errors in 54 games last year.

JUSTIN DRAKE, Soph. OF: One of several candidates for the starting spot in center field ... perhaps the fastest runner on the team ... spent a good portion of last season as the starter in center, starting a total of 20 games ... pulled a hamstring in spring practice and may not be fully ready for the season-opening weekend.

JAY GARTHWAITE, Soph. OF: After spending last season as the everyday designated hitter, is expected to start in left field this season ... broke the UW freshman home runs record with 12 last season, four more than the old mark of eight ... had off-season surgery to repair the shoulder that had relegated him to DH duties in 2000 ... finished the 2000 season on a nine-game hitting streak, going 13-for-33 (.394) over that span ... known mostly for his power hitting, but also stole nine bases in 12 tries last year ... named honorable mention Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball.

GREG ISAACSON, Freshman IF: A backup at the two middle infield spots ... joined the team after the start of fall practice ... batted .418 with 10 doubles and 26 RBI as a senior at Aberdeen High School.

BRYAN JOHNSON, Soph. 1B: After playing sparingly as a freshman, should be the starter at first base in 2001 ... had an outstanding summer with Athletes in Action, batting .327 with a wood bat and leading his team to a fourth-place finish at the NBC World Series ... saw time as a third baseman and as a catcher last year.

BRANDON JACOBSON, Soph. OF: A candidate to start in center field ... batted .393 and led the league in runs and stolen bases last year at Bellevue (Wash.) CC, playing with a wood bat ... led team in runs, doubles, steals, on-base and slugging.

ANDRE MARSHALL, Junior OF: A transfer from Walla Walla (Wash.) CC, who will get a chance to start in center field ... known for speed and fielding ... drafted by the Oakland A's in the 29th round of the 1999 draft.

BEN MILLER, Junior OF: A top candidate to start in center field ... closed out last season by collecting eight hits in his last 16 at bats after starting his career hitless in his first 23 at bats ... first career hit was a two-run homer vs. St. Martin's.

DUGGAN MORAN, Senior 1B/DH: Switch hitter expected to be a regular at designated hitter ... first career hit (last season vs. Northern Iowa) drove in the tying and winning runs in the sixth inning of a seven-inning game.

JOHN OTNESS, Freshman IF: A backup at both second base and shortstop ... missed the fall practice season after suffering an injury to his kidney during summer ball ... batted .560 as a senior and was the Tacoma player of the year.

MATT PAYNE, Freshman IF: A backup at shortstop ... may not be available early due to a broken finger suffered in spring practice ... hit .400 and led the KingCo Conference in doubles as a senior at Issaquah High.

JEREMIAH PORTER, RS-Freshman OF: One of several players contending for time in the outfield ... red-shirted the 2000 season due to a back injury that eventually required surgery.

STEVE RAMSEY, Freshman 1B/OF: Will serve as a backup at first base and in the outfield, and also has a good shot to start at DH ... won the KingCo Confererence batting championship with a .517 average last year at Eastlake High School.

TILA REYNOLDS, Soph. SS: Started 50 of 56 games at shortstop as a freshman last year ... honorable mention Freshman All-America ... over the last 35 games of 2000, batted .302 and made only six errors in last 32 games ... fourth in the Pac-10 with nine sacrifice hits ... second on the team with 33 walks and third with 10 stolen bases.

TIM RICE, Junior C: Started 12 games as the backup catcher in 2000 after transferring from Tacoma CC ... expected to vie for the No. 2 spot with Chad Yarbrough this season.

MARC RITTENHOUSE, Senior 2B: Returns for his fourth season as a Husky starter ... co-captain along with Jeff Carlsen ... 12 home runs in 2000 shared the team lead ... had only five homers prior to last season ... second on team with 13 stolen bases and first with 47 walks ... 47 walks ranked third in the Pac-10 ... 10th in UW history in career walks and runs ... career .290 hitter.

JEFFERSON THIEL, Soph. C: Started 44 of 56 games as the Husky catcher in 2000 ... named first-team Freshman All-America by USA Today Baseball Weekly ... hit .556 (5-for-9) with two homers during trip to Cuba.

MIKE WAGNER, Freshman 3B: Will back up at third base and also has a shot to start at DH ... All-KingCo third baseman as a junior and senior at Woodinville High ... over the summer, once strung together 19 consecutive hits.

CHAD YARBROUGH, Soph. C: Will compete to back up Jefferson Thiel ... saw action in three games last year, but didn't get a plate appearance.

PITCHER NOTES (possible starters first):CLAY JOHNSON, Freshman RHP: Had a very similar career to fellow Elma High grad Jake Kringen, one of the most successful pitchers in recent UW history ... like Kringen, led Elma to the state title as a senior and posted a 0.00 earned run average as a senior ... league MVP, all-state and MVP of the Washington all-star game ... threw a perfect game vs. Capital High.

TYLER SHEPPLE, Sophomore RHP: Spent last season as a reliever, making 13 appearances and no starts ... posted victories over Wichita State and Gonzaga ... top outing was at Washington State, when he worked five and two-thirds relief innings, allowing two hits and one run ... threw two no-hit innings at Wichita State for that victory.

SEAN WHITE, Sophomore RHP: Made nine relief appearances and three starts as a freshman in 2000 ... first career start came at World Series-bound Stanford ... other starts came at Portland and Wichita State ... Huskies' top pitcher in the fall.

BULLPEN NOTES: Brian Barton (Soph. RHP) led the UW with 22 appearances in 2000 ... didn't allow a home run in 28.1 innings, while striking out 30 in that span ... may miss the early part of the season after undergoing elbow surgery ... Mike Bomar (Senior LHP) was used as a starter last year before a minor shoulder injury knocked him out of the rotation ... has made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances over his career ... top outing last year was a two-hitter vs. Dayton, when he had a no-hitter through the first seven and two-thirds innings ... Jeff Carlsen (Senior RHP) is a likely starter, but may sit out the first week or two while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery ... second on the all-time wins list with 22 career victories ... also ranks in the top five in starts, innings and strikeouts ... 40 starts and only one relief appearances in three seasons ... Zack Daniels (Junior LHP) is another possible starter ... started eight and made only one relief appearance last year ... 4-2 with two wins over Portland and one each over San Francisco and St. Martin's in 2000 ... Matt Gardner (Senior LHP) is fully healthy again after shoulder injury ... made six starts and eight relief appearances ... outstanding as a lefty set-up man ... wins over UCLA, San Francisco and Portland last year ... Trevor Gibson (Freshman RHP) was all-league and all-state at Enumclaw High School last season ... a probable future starter for the Huskies ... Taylor Grant (Junior LHP) made 16 relief appearances and four starts in 2000 ... led the Huskies and was third in the Pac-10 with six saves last season ... Shawn Kohn (Junior RHP) has been strong in fall and spring practice ... made 11 relief appearances in 2000 and 19 in 1999 ... Cam McCoy (Soph. LHP) is a hard-throwing lefty that could go anywhere from starter to closer ... saw 21 relief outings in 2000 ... threw two scoreless innings at Washington State for lone decision (a win) in 2000 ... Jeff Petersen (Freshman RHP) led his team to AAAA state title in 2000 .. all-state as a senior and a 25th-round draft choice ... Scott Robertson (Soph. RHP) made only two outings last year, but should increase that action dramatically in 2001 ... has a chance to serve as the closer ... Randy Vanderplow (Junior RHP) is another pitcher that could start or relieve ... made eight relief outings and one start last season ... has yet to record a decision in his Husky career.

RANDOM NOTES: Of the 40 players on the Washington roster, only five come from outside of the state of Washington -- 3B Michael Done (Colorado), 1B Duggan Moran (Colorado), RHP Tyler Shepple (Colorado), RHP Greg Colburn (Montana) and RHP Randy Vanderplow (California) ... Washington's 40-man roster includes 11 players that have been drafted ... Washington has played in Tucson, Ariz., only twice before -- at the 1992 NCAA West I Regional and in a three-game series at Arizona in 1999 ... the Dawgs went 2-2 at the Regional and 2-1 in the three-game series and are thus 4-3 all-time in games played in Tucson.

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