#32 Washington Baseball 2015 Preview

Washington Huskies

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12
#32 Washington Baseball 2015 Preview
Washington Team Page


Washington was a surprise ball club last year, finishing with a 41-17 record and a second place Pac-12 finish. The Huskies also appeared in an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2004. Was that a fluke? It doesn’t look like it. Washington returns four of their top seven pitchers from a year ago and also have a number of contributors back offensively. Add in a 13 player recruiting class that features some potential starters from day one, and the Huskies look poised for more success n 2015.
2014: 41-17, 21-9
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lindsey Meggs

Field Players:
Washington does lose a significant part of their lineup from last season, but the Huskies return four regulars that will be key this season in catcher Austin Rei, infielders Alex Schmidt and Branden Berry and outfielder Braden Bishop. Rei is the top returning hitter, .314 average last year, and Schmidt tied for the team high with five home runs last season. The duo had 28 and 26 RBIs, respectively, last year and will be counted on heavily this season. Berry started 45 games a year ago, mostly at first base, and finished the season with a .262 average. He was the team’s best hitter in the Oxford regional, posting a .438 batting average. Bishop will anchor the outfield after leading the team with 21 stolen bases last year to go along with his .304 batting average.

Washington will need increased production out of a number of part time starters that return for the 2015 season. Junior infielder Matt Jackson, senior outfielder Will Sparks and sophomore outfielder Jack Meggs are three names that stand out. Jackson appeared in just 24 games last year and earned only four starts, but he hit .318 in those appearances and looks poised for bigger things this season. Sparks and Meggs are two leading candidates to fill the two open spots in the outfield. A senior, Sparks hasn’t seen much playing time during his career with the Huskies, but he did win the Most Purple Award this fall, which is given to the player with the best preparation and work ethic. Meggs, the son of head coach Lindsay, appeared in 50 games as a freshman, including 17 starts. Meggs hit just .188 last year, but did post a .305 on base percentage. Chris Baker, .256 average in 34 appearances last year, and freshman Shane Olson will both be in the mix for a spot in the infield.

Ace Tyler Davis is back for his senior season and he will lead the Huskies pitching staff. A Second Team All-American last year, Davis went 11-2 with a 1.60 ERA as a junior as the Friday starter. The rest of last seasons starting rotation departed, but Washington has a pair of relievers who are set to transition to the starting rotation. Troy Rallings and Will Ballowe appeared in at least 30 games last season and sported identical 2.30 ERA’s. Their transition will leave a big hole in the back end of the bullpen and the Huskies will need some players to step up there. Senior Josh Fredendall was the Huskies closer in 2012 before missing the last two seasons with arm injuries, and he could be set to return to that role in 2015. Brandon Choate went 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 21 innings of work out of the bullpen last year, while Henry Baker and Alex Nesbitt will both look to increase their workloads after pitching less than 20 innings apiece last year. Junior college transfers Ryan Schmitten and Spencer Jones are two newcomers that could have immediate impacts. Schmitten won the best newcomer award after fall practice and could be a difference maker in the bullpen.

Who to Watch:
A lot will be riding on the arm of Tyler Davis this season. The lone established starter for the Huskies, Davis will need to pitch well and anchor the staff. Davis threw a team high 106.2 innings last year and will likely need to do the same again this year. If Davis can get deep into games, it would take some stress off a bullpen that is mostly an unknown quantity at this point. There are a lot of new faces in new roles in the bullpen and quality starts from Davis will help the transition for the players in the new roles.

Final Projection:
The 2015 Washington team isn’t as talented as the one the Huskies fielded in 2014, but there is still plenty of talent at the Seattle school to be a competitive Pac-12 team again. The Huskies will face some tough tests early in the year with games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and a three game series against Pepperdine, but the non-conference schedule is one that should be relatively easy. The Pac-12 should be tougher than last season, but if Washington can put together a solid non-conference schedule, they should be in great shape to return to the NCAA Tournament providing they can win some conference series.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Braden Bishop, OF, 217
Hits: Braden Bishop, OF, 66
Home Runs: Alex Schmidt, IF, 5
RBIs: Braden Bishop, OF, 27
Runs: Braden Bishop, OF, 43
Stolen Bases: Braden Bishop, OF, 21

Wins: Tyler Davis, P, 11
Innings Pitched: Tyler Davis, P, 106.2
Strikeouts: Tyler Davis, P, 62
Saves: Troy Rallings, P, 9


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