State colleges report: Senior Batkoski gets fresh start for No. 8 UW
With the highest national ranking in team history, the No. 8 Washington baseball team prepares to open the season Friday, and no one is...
With the highest national ranking in team history, the No. 8 Washington baseball team prepares to open the season Friday, and no one is more excited than senior third baseman Nick Batkoski.
After starting each of the last two seasons on the bench before earning midseason promotions, Batkoski will begin the season as the Huskies' starting third baseman. The senior has been effective as a starter throughout his career, leading the Huskies to a 16-3 record in his 19 starts in 2003, mostly at designated hitter, and a 25-13 mark as the starting shortstop in 2004.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to start," said Batkoski, who won the Class 4A state title with Federal Way High School in 2001. "I've had to back up a lot of great players in my career, and I've learned a lot from them. I'm glad to be able to put it all together now."
Coming off a third straight NCAA appearance, Batkoski and his fellow seniors hope to extend that streak to four, while leading Washington to its first College World Series.
"This is the best lineup we've had since I've been here," he said. "We don't want to settle for the regionals. We want to get to Omaha and the College World Series."
Batkoski is joined in the infield by a pair of seniors — Kyle Larsen (Eastlake of Sammamish) at first and Mike Rundle (Bend, Ore.) at second — and a junior, shortstop Brent Lillibridge (Jackson of Mill Creek).
Larsen, a career .319 hitter, has started 166 of 181 games the last three years. The 6-foot-5 slugger has been named the top defensive first baseman in the nation by Baseball America.
Seattle Pacific (17-4, 9-2 GNAC) at Western Washington (16-4, 8-3 GNAC), Saturday, 7 p.m.
The scoop: SPU tops the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings, one game ahead of WWU.
The outfield is also filled with veterans in juniors Zach Clem (Burlington-Edison) and Nick Burnham (Eastside Catholic of Bellevue), and senior Taylor Johnson (Skyview of Vancouver). Sophomore Matt Lane (Port Angeles) is slated to start behind the plate while redshirt sophomore Curt Rindal (Mount Vernon) returns from an injury as the first choice at DH.
What might differentiate this team from past UW squads is pitching experience. Every pitcher that started a game last season returns, including top three starters Kyle Parker (West Valley of Yakima), Matt Kasser (Issaquah) and All-American Tim Lincecum (Liberty of Issaquah).
"Our young pups have grown up," Batkoski said.
Lincecum is slated to start the opener Friday at UC-Irvine.
Other UW sports
Men's golf: The No. 26 Huskies open their spring season at the Taylor Made/Waikoloa Intercollegiate Golf Tournament in Hilo, Hawaii, today through Friday at the Waikoloa Village Course. The field includes seven top-15 teams.
Gymnastics: The Huskies' 8-1 record is their best season start under coach Bob Levesque and their fastest start since 1984, when they began the season 19-1. Washington went 29-3 and finished eighth at the NCAA Championships that season. Seniors Carly Dockendorf (Port Moody, B.C.), Tacia LaBatte (Kaneohe, Hawaii) and Molly Seaman (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) were the only current UW gymnasts alive during the 1984 season.
Track and field: Freshman Austin Abbott (Chehalis), who two weeks ago climbed into UW's all-time top 10 in the 800 and distance-medley relay, will attempt to do so again Saturday in a loaded mile at The Husky Classic at Dempsey Indoor. Abbott could face three of the NCAA's top-six milers, and five of the top 15, in what should be one of the nation's premier distance races.
Men's tennis: Washington's three seniors — Alex Vlaski (Belgrade, Yugoslavia), Peter Scharler (Salzburg, Austria) and Christoph Palmanshofer (St. Joergen, Austria) — are undefeated in dual singles matches this season with a combined record of 18-0. The unbeaten Huskies (7-0) host Pepperdine on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Women's tennis: Unranked singles player Dinka Hadzic (Split, Croatia) has defeated two Top-25 opponents this season.
Gymnastics: Coming off a win at Air Force, SPU seeks its first home win Saturday vs. Oregon State. The Falcons continue to lead NCAA Division II in scoring average. Jaynie Reynolds (White Rock, B.C.) is the all-around leader, while Debra Huss (Orangevale, Calif.) is No. 1 on floor.
Men's basketball: Center Jason Chivers (Los Angeles) has averaged 23.8 points and 12.0 rebounds while shooting 69 percent in his last five games.
Track and field: Danielle Ayers-Stamper (Lacrosse-Washtucna) ranks No. 2 among all NCAA Division II indoor qualifiers in the high jump, No. 5 in the long jump and No. 9 in the 60 hurdles.
Women's basketball: SPU (19-1) needs one more win to clinch its sixth straight 20-win season.
Men's basketball: The 44 points scored by Bernard Seals (Sacramento, Calif.) Saturday is the most scored in the GNAC this season and the third-most all time.
Women's basketball: Seattle is ranked No. 15 in the nation in free-throw shooting at 75.8 percent despite making just 34 of 56 (61 percent) over the past four games.
Women's basketball: Sophomore Kate Benz (Portland) leads the Pac-10 and is 26th nationally in rebounding (9.6 per game) and double-doubles (eight). No Cougar has ever captured the Pac-10 rebounding title.
Track and field: 10 women and 10 men from the WSU distance corps will be running in the Husky Classic Indoor Meet on Saturday.
Women's basketball: Sophomore Krystal Robinson (Kentridge) blocked 14 shots (seven apiece) in two games last week, the most ever by a Viking (18-2, 10-1 GNAC) over a two-game span.
Men's basketball: Junior guard Ryan Diggs (Victorville, Calif.) has 962 career points and needs 38 more to become the 20th Viking to score 1,000.
Central Washington: The Wildcats baseball teams opens its season this weekend with doubleheaders at Puget Sound (Saturday, 11 a.m.) and Pacific Lutheran (Sunday, noon) in Tacoma. The Wildcats were picked to finish second in the GNAC preseason coaches' poll.
Eastern Washington: Caitlin Prunty (Stadium of Tacoma) broke her school record in the 800 meters as she placed first last week in Boise, Idaho.
Gonzaga: Mark Few recorded his 150th career victory Saturday, and his .806 win percentage ranks him with North Carolina's Roy Williams as the only active men's basketball coaches with at least five years of experience and a win percentage of .800 or better.
Northwest: This year has been a year for family in the men's basketball program as three father/sons have passed the 1,000-point mark. Wes and Nate Lindseth (Seattle Christian) currently lead with 1,212 points, with Rick and Grant Enloe (Gig Harbor) at 1,116 and Mike and Morgan Axton (Gig Harbor) at 1,019.
Pacific Lutheran: A power outage Friday forced suspension of the PLU-Willamette women's basketball game and postponement of the men's game after a opossum tripped a transformer. On Jan. 15, 2000, an outage also forced PLU-Willamette games to be postponed. Two days later, Olson Auditorium's lights went out at halftime of the women's game. The lights came back on, and the Lutes won, 63-44. The men's game was moved to Memorial Gymnasium because of a faulty breaker switch. With only one scoreboard working, PLU won 67-64.
Saint Martin's: Senior Martina Kartikova (Kosice, Slovakia) reached 1,000 points in a loss to Montana State-Billings on Thursday. Her 1,017 career points rank 17th in GNAC history.
Whitman: Junior Laura Valaas (Wenatchee) is on track to become the first Whitman cross-country skier to qualify for the NCAA championships.
Whitworth: Whitworth will host the Northwest Conference swim championships for the third time since 1996, Friday through Sunday. The Pirates men are two-time defending champs.
Sports information directors
contributed to this notebook.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.