The WSU baseball team hosts the USC Trojans this weekend in a three-game series at Bailey-Brayton Field.
The Cougs (12-10, 2-4) enter the series coming off of an interesting road trip. They played a doubleheader against two separate teams and seven games against top-10 ranked teams. WSU has not played a game at home since March 4 against Northern Colorado.
USC (14-8, 2-4) comes into the series 2-2 in their last four games, three of which were against no. 2 ranked Stanford. The Trojans took one game from Stanford and beat UC Irvine on Wednesday.
Currently the Cougar offense is led by six players hitting over .290, one of which is redshirt junior Taylor Ard. On the year, Ard is hitting .308 with four home runs and 16 RBI’s while also adding 15 runs and seven walks.
In the first two games of the UCLA series the WSU offense only scraped together six runs, however, in the doubleheader against UCLA and Long Beach State the Cougs exploded for 21 runs in one day.
“We attacked the pitcher more and we weren’t as passive,” Ard said. “We didn’t take as many strikes and we just went at them, didn’t let the pitcher get comfortable.”
Inconsistent offense has been a problem for WSU all year and is something WSU Assistant Coach Spencer Allen hopes can be fixed relatively soon.
“We’ve pitched well enough to win probably four extra games if our offense is just average, just consistent,” Allen said. “I think the (players) know that, they understand that and I think the biggest thing is if every guy just knows their role, knows their job we have a chance to be a postseason type club.”
Propelling the WSU offense so far has been senior Derek Jones, who is on the verge of rewriting the all-time WSU record books. Jones is currently sitting tied for third all-time on the Cougar home run list and is close to breaking into the top-10 list for RBI’s, total bases, runs, games and at-bat's.
Pitching for WSU this season has been fairly consistent and with a starting rotation and bullpen full of young inexperienced arms. On the season the Cougar bullpen has combined for a 4.56 ERA, 5-4 record, recorded 53 strikeouts and has stranded 72.6 percent of the base runners they have inherited.
Starting for WSU in the series will be sophomore J.D. Leckenby (3-3) on Friday, freshman Joe Pistorese (1-2) Saturday and junior Kyle Swannack (2-2) on Sunday.
Taking the mound for USC will be Andrew Triggs (2-3) on Friday, Ben Mount (1-3) Saturday and Stephen Tarpley (4-0) on Sunday.
“We feel that if we come in and attack, and especially throw that first punch on Friday, we have a chance to have a really, really good weekend,” Allen said.
Beginning this Friday with the first game against USC, all remaining WSU home baseball games will be streamed live online at www.wsucougars.com, in addition to the already available radio coverage.
First pitches this weekend are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. Radio coverage of all three games can be found on 1150 AM and 105.3 FM. Coverage for each game begins 20 minute prior to first pitch.