The Diamond Dawgs are back between the lines once again as Indian summer practices are in progress in planning for the inaugural season at the pristine Husky Ballpark.
Full-team practices, which began three weeks ago, have taken place on the freshly finished turf field that is part of the listed restorations.
The 2014 crew, coached by fifth-year head coach Lindsay Meggs, will be made up of a resilient company of returning starters as well as a prized recruiting class. In addition, as publicized in July, the Huskies have received their new hitting coach, Donegal Fergus, out of Lower Columbia College.
Coming into fall-ball, the Huskies are looking to re-establish some more deepness to their line-up and pitching staff after struggling with low numbers last year. The Huskies posted a 10-4 record to conclude the last month of the 2013 regular season and finished Pac-12 play with a .500 record and sixth-place finish in the standings.
With this solid performance in the back of the team’s mind, Meggs is anticipating they can build from last season’s late momentum.
Up until this point in practice, the primary focus has been on the offense. Meggs has good reason for focusing on the hitting.
“For us, we’ve kind of focused a little bit more on the offense end of it,” Meggs said, “because of the injuries we had on the mound last year. “We’re trying to go slower with the pitchers, take a little bit more time with the arm-care issues, in terms of giving them a little bit more time before they face live hitters and giving them more time to recover.” Meggs also added: “And there’s Donegal Fergus, our hitting coach.Since he’s new, we’ve spent a lot of time with all of our hitters, returners and new guys, getting to know him, and getting to know what’s important to him.”
Besides Fergus, Meggs is eager to break in the incoming class of Johnny-come-latelies that bring up numbers in positions across the board.
“I think we’ll have some depth on the mound because of that group that we haven’t had in the past couple of years,” notes Meggs. “Henry Baker, a left-handed pitcher from Augora Hills, Calif., is a guy that we think can step in as a freshman and pitch on the weekend and potentially start a mid-week game. Brandon Chote is a junior-college transfer from Tacoma who’s pitched in every different role out of the bullpen.
“Position-wise, we’ve got some more depth on the infield with Chris Baker who came in from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif.,” Meggs continued. “He can play shortstop, and can play almost any position in the infield, that helps. My own son from Bellevue, Jack Meggs, can play any of the three outfield spots. He will push all the guys that are back. “All those guys in that class that came in this fall, in some way, shape or form are going to fight their way onto the field or make the team better”
With the new stadium well in progress, the enthusiasm continues to grow among players and coaches.
While acknowledging that the continuous buzz of construction has restricted some facets of practice, Meggs noted that motivation is off the charts because they are viewing the development of the stadium up close.
“You’re talking about finally having a home that you’re proud of,” Meggs said. “Everyone has a little swagger, everybody feels good about it, and they’re proud of it. You can’t wait to get to work every day, and you can wait to get to practice each day. That’s a good feeling.”
The fall season will run through mid-October and finishes with an inter-squad tournament scheduled for Oct. 14-19.