PLAY BALL!: After three years as a Division I independent, Seattle University begins the fourth season of its baseball rebirth as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Redhawks are currently scheduled to play 55 regular season games, including 27 games within the league. Seattle U will play 25 home games and 30 road games during the 2013 campaign. The first of four consecutive weekends on the road takes the Redhawks to Santa Clara, Calif., to face the Broncos, beginning a stretch in which 10 of the first 18 games of the season will be against West Coast Conference foes.
THE 2012 SEASON: Seattle U came out of the gates strong in 2012, taking two of three games from eventual Great West Conference champion Utah Valley on opening weekend. The Redhawks followed that with their third victory in two years over crosstown rival Washington. After losing four straight games, Seattle U recovered with two wins over Nebraska Omaha and two wins over Saint Joseph's. Later in March, the Redhawks notched some history by winning two of three games at San Jose State, the team's first road series win since the program was brought back. Winning two of three over Northern Colorado put Seattle U four games above .500 at 14-10. After an embarrassing 19-1 loss to Washington State in the middle game of a three-game series, the Redhawks came back to win the final game of the weekend in comeback fashion, 5-4, for their first win over the Cougars in almost 40 years. As the season turned to May, Seattle U took two of three from Nevada, and then went on the road and defeated Big Ten school Ohio State in the middle game of that weekend series, 11-1. The Redhawks finished with a 23-30 overall record, two victories more than the previous season. Ryan Somers led the team in batting with a .297 average while Brian Olson, named the team's most valuable player after the season, finished with a .276 batting average, eight doubles, two home runs, and 18 runs batted in. He walked 23 times while striking out only 16 times, and he threw out over 40 percent of would-be base stealers. On the mound, Seafth Howe won four games and posted a 3.21 ERA, while Brandon Kizer notched a 3.59 ERA with five victories. Eric Yardley established himself as the team's closer with five saves and a 2.49 earned run average in a team-high 26 appearances.
SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos finished with a 26-28 record in 2012, including a 5-19 record within the West Coast Conference to finish ninth in the final league standings. An experienced squad returns for Santa Clara, with six of nine position players as well as eight pitchers coming back for the 2013 season. Junior shortstop Greg Harisis is back for the Broncos after batting .398 with eight doubles and six stolen bases last season. Another returner to watch is senior outfielder Matt Ozanne, who batted .261 with four home runs, 17 runs batted in, and 13 stolen bases. On the mound, senior righthander Tommy Nance is back after starting 15 games last season, but he is not scheduled to start any of the games this weekend. Senior righthander Mike Couch will be the opening day starter for Santa Clara.
SERIES HISTORY: Last season, Seattle U and Santa Clara met for the first time since the reinstatement of the Redhawk baseball program. In a two-game series at Bannerwood Park May 1-2, 2012, the Broncos swept the Redhawks, 8-4 and 3-2. In the first game, all eight Santa Clara runs came in the first five innings, offsetting a strong day by Brian Olson in which he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a home run, and three runs batted in. In the second game, Seattle U had a 2-0 lead going into the eighth inning, but the Broncos scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game at 2-2. The game went to the 11th inning, when Santa Clara scored to pull out the victory.
WEATHER FORECAST: The weather should cooperate in getting the season started for both teams. Sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s will greet the teams on Friday, but then things will cool off into the high 40s to low 50s. Mostly cloudy skies are forecast for Saturday with temperatures hitting the low 70s. The sun is set to return on Sunday with temperatures in the mid 60s.
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Dan Giuliani returns as the voice of the Redhawks, starting with all three games this weekend at Santa Clara. His broadcasts are available for free on GoSeattleU.com and are scheduled to begin 25-30 minutes before first pitch with the pregame show.
SEASON TICKETS: Season tickets for Seattle University baseball at Bannerwood Park are now available for just $50. For more information or to purchase baseball season tickets, contact the Seattle U Athletics Ticket Office at (206) 398-GOSU (4678).
THE LEADER OF THE REDHAWKS: Donny Harrel is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Seattle University baseball program. He has led the team's continued improvement from 11 wins in 2010 to 21 wins in 2011 to last season's total of 23 wins. At the University of Washington as an assistant coach for four seasons, Harrel was not only responsible for assisting in on-field coaching, but he also was responsible for the Huskies' schedule and assisted with travel issues, budgeting, and helping student-athletes through the admissions process. He also oversaw the team's academic performance and was named Academic Coach of the Quarter in Winter 2007 when the team broke a 14-year record for highest cumulative grade point average. His head coaching experience comes from seven seasons at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., where he compiled a 220-90 record and led the team to the NWAACC championship in 1999. Named NWAACC Southern Division Coach of the Year four times, he also led fundraising efforts to build a field, improve other facilities, buy equipment, and increase scholarship opportunities.
COACHING: Donny Harrel has been able to maintain consistency within his coaching staff, with assistant coach Casey Powell and pitching coach Dave Wainhouse back with the program. Also returning is director of baseball operations Jeff James, now in his second year at Seattle U. The one newcomer is Mike Nadeau, who takes over as the volunteer assistant coach after three seasons as the head coach at Pierce College, where he compiled a 79-45 overall record.
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Seattle University begins its first season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference after spending the past three years as a Division I independent. The Redhawks will face the other nine teams in the league in three-game series for a total of 27 conference games. Seattle U will host UTSA, UT Arlington, Sacramento State, and New Mexico State while traveling to Louisiana Tech, Texas State, Dallas Baptist, San Jose State, and CSU Bakersfield. The top eight teams in the 10-team league will advance to the WAC Baseball Tournament May 22-26 at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.