Each year Seattle U head coach Donny Harrel puts together the season preview for the Redhawks. Entering his seventh season of competition at the helm of the Seattle U baseball program, Harrel is coming off the most successful season for the team since its rebirth, finishing with a 31-27 overall record, including a 19-8 WAC record to finish in second place.
Opening Day always brings a sense of excitement about what the season can be. Associate head coach and pitching coordinator Elliott Cribby has our pitching staff ready for the season and assistant coach Mike Nadeau, who is in charge of our defense, has us much more polished than we have been in previous seasons. Our motto is pitching and defense win championships, so it will continue to be those two areas that dictate the success of this 2016 team.
Returning left-handed pitcher and Freshman All-American Tarik Skubal, who is now a sophomore, gives us a big-time arm that can anchor a rotation. Skubal, who is also selected as a preseason all-conference pitcher, is slated to start the last game of our series against St. Mary’s this Sunday. Senior Ted Hammond will get the opening day start. Hammond led the team in ERA last spring and ended the year 6-4 with a 2.63 earned run average. With four games on the schedule for opening weekend, sophomores Nick Meservey and Janson Junk will both be getting starting roles. Meservey started three games last year, going 1-2, and Junk will get his first start as a Redhawk after coming out of the bullpen in 2015.
Redshirt senior Grant Gunning will be the long reliever as a righthanded pitcher, with freshman Jake Prizina taking on that role as a lefty. We are deeper than ever in our bullpen this year with matchup guys including sophomores Ryan Freitas and Ky Dye and freshman Zach Wolf as righthanded pitchers and freshman Tyler Oldenberg taking on that role as a lefthander. Redshirt junior Connor Moore and redshirt sophomore Austin Hansen take on the role of closers as we prepare for these first games of the year.
On the offensive side, hitting coach Jeff James has done a tremendous job getting our guys game ready. Redhawk Player of the Year Sheldon Stober comes back to lead an infield that returns plenty of starters. Stober was just recently named the 31st best second baseman in the country out of 304 programs. Brock Carpenter will start at third base and Griffin Andreychuk, who led the team in RBIs last year, will start at shortstop. Sophomore Sean Sutton, who started 21 games last year at first base and hit .293 as a freshman will be back on the corner, while junior Michael McCann will get the start behind the plate, with sophomore returner Jack Reisinger and freshman Kyler Murphy competing to get time back there as well. Redshirt junior Cash McGuire and junior backup first baseman Lucas Denney will fill the designated hitter’s role early, while sophomore Curtis Perrin and freshmen Chase Ridder and Jake Taylor will all begin the season in backup roles in the infield, but all are ready to play at the Division I level.
The outfield will be anchored by sophomore 2015 stolen base leader Dalton Hurd, who will play centerfield. Hurd was also voted a preseason all-conference selection. Freshman Jeffrey Morgan won the competition to start in right field, while left field will be a platoon situation to start the year to see who settles in. Candidates for starting in left field include freshmen Max Modeste, Michael Ciancio, Max Werner, Kyler Murphy, and redshirt sophomore Cameron Sterne, as well as McGuire.
Our schedule is once again tough, but should prepare us for a competitive WAC schedule. Home games against Bowling Green, University of Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, Washington and Washington State as well as road trips to Oregon State, UC Irvine and St. Mary’s will be great tests to see how our club stacks up against other quality clubs.