Feb. 1, 2011
PULLMAN, Wash. - Pitchers' fielding practice, base running drills and the echos of baseballs popping gloves ringing throughout Bailey-Brayton Field Tuesday meant one thing. The Washington State Cougar baseball team opened practice in preparation for its 2011 season.
The Cougars are coming off consecutive-NCAA postseason appearances, and are ranked in two of the four major preseason polls. Washington State is No. 31 in Collegiate Baseball's top 40 and ranked 34th in the National Collegiate Basebal Writers Association top 35.
It is the first time since 1991 (No. 24 Collegiate Baseball) that Washington State is nationally-ranked in the preseason and the first time since 1989 (No. 19 Baseball America/No. 25 Collegiate Baseball) the Cougars have been tabbed among the nation's best in two polls prior to the season's first pitch.
Washington State returns 18 letterwinners, including four starting pitchers from the 2010 squad that came within a game of reaching an NCAA Super Regional. The Cougars play 31 of their 55 games in Pullman this year. Over the last two seasons, Washington State is 41-11 (78.9 winning percentage) at Bailey-Brayton Field.
Washington State opens its 2011 campaign with a three-game series at Cal State Bakersfield, Feb. 18-20. The Cougars' home slate begins with a three-game set against UC Santa Barbara, Feb. 25-27.