IT'S A GOOD THING Cougar hoops coach Tony Bennett is planning to stick around Pullman. Based on a…
Slow start, fast finish? Soph stars think so
The Cougs are 21-20 overall and 4-11 in Pac-10 play with the Cardinal in Pullman for a three-game series starting Saturday. FSN Northwest will broadcast the opener live at 5:30 p.m.
"It's been real frustrating not seeing the wins," said Jared Prince, a 6-3, 186-pound outfielder/pitcher from Poulsbo. "But baseball is a funny game -- sometimes it takes a little while to figure it out and we've been putting them together as of late and sometimes it just clicks.
"We're playing good and we're winning some games and we're feeling good and practicing better. I really feel we're going to finish strong and make a good run in our regional."
Even in the face of their 1-9 start in Pac-10 action, team unity has been steadfast, both players say.
A year ago, with true freshmen Coulter and Prince playing a huge role, the Cougs created the first buzz around Bailey-Brayton Field in more than a decade, going 36-23 and winning 10 conference games. That effort, which very nearly earned a post-season bid, elevated expectations for this season -- although some naysayers around the West considered 2006 a flash in the pan.
"Mostly we just wanted to come in and prove everyone wrong and show how we could compete .. . We're basically the same team as last season and we're only missing a couple guys," said Coulter. "Obviously I'm not hitting the ball very well, so I might as well call out myself. And there are few other guys that needed to produce early ... but that's just baseball, sometimes things just don't go your way."
Coulter knows that roller-coaster ride well. He burst onto the scene as a true freshman last season, hitting .345, leading the Cougs in runs scored, and playing outstandng defense. A classic contact hitter, he had a 20-game hitting streak. This season, however, he's been hampered by a shoulder injury and is hitting .274 with six RBI.
Prince, too, has been on a roller-coaster ride. Last season he turned in arguably the finest freshman campaign in WSU history, hitting a conference-leading .401 and picking up six wins as a pitcher. He was named first-team all-conference, first-team Freshman All-American and third-team All-American. Sports Illustrated this winter picked him as one of the 25 top pro prospects in the nation.
This year he's hitting .281 and has pitched just five innings because of shoulder woes. Still, he's second on the team in RBI behind senior standout Jeff Miller.
"You have to come out everday and believe that you're going to go 5 for 5 and have a great day," Prince says. "I do believe that when it's not going good you're going to have that sense of doubt that might creep in, but you've just got to ... flush that out and go out with a positive mind."
Cougar assistant coach Travis Jewett says Coulter and Prince are quintessential ballplayers. "I couldn't nail down one thing to describe those guys, but desire and work ethic are definitely the first ones that come to min -- and the aim to be great," Jewett said. "They're good kids and they love to play, and they're going to get after it."
In perhaps the greatest compliment a college coach can offer a player, Jewett said Coulter and Prince are supreme marketing assets for Cougar baseball. "As far as recruiting goes, those two guys are going to be players that we're going to be hanging our hats one, not just for the rest of this year but for the rest of their careers," he said.
Both players, Jewett said, are destined for pro ball. Prince, like John Olerud many years ago, could get there with either his arm or his bat.
Whether that comes at the end of this year, or next or the next, remains to be seen.
Prince is clear when asked about the lofty draft projections for him this year. "I'm not going to touch that one. If it happens, it happens. I'm more than happy to come back to school and be the same guy next year," he said. "I've got some healing up to do as far as the body goes and we'll go from there."
Cougfan.com Recommended Stories
Pac-12 Hoops Media Day Notebook
SAN FRANCISCO -- Some quick hit comments from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott on the state of the Pac-12 and some new initiatives that are coming this men's basketball season, including an update on…Read More
WSU practice: Pole back; eye on UA run game
PULLMAN — Arizona is throwing a lot more and running considerably less compared to last season but WSU linebackers coach Ken Wilson said after practice Wednesday the Cougars must respect the No. 15…Read More
COUGFAN TV: Leach sets his own pace
PULLMAN -- Mike Leach was asked after practice about the fast pace of Arizona's offense and what challenges, substitution and otherwise, that could present for Washington State on Saturday, (Pac-12…Read More
Week 8: Super Sleepers
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Jeb Gorham digs in his list of rankings to find the best sleepers for deeper formats. Consider giving these players a chance, but be aware of the risk! Tampa Bay…Read More
Watch: Sailfish Goes Psycho!
Check out this classic video of Dan Larson battling an acrobatic sailfish on a trip to the world-famous Tropic Star Lodge in Panama.Read More