The Cougars come to town after earning their 2nd consecutive regional bid. Washington State and Arkansas met last year in the first round of the Norman (OK) Regional, a game the Razorbacks won en route to the College World Series. The Hogs also beat the Cougars in a three game sweep to start last season. Washington State enters play this weekend ranked 24th in the nation according to Baseball America. They finished third in the ultra-competitive Pac-10, well behind national seeds Arizona State and UCLA.
Matt Fanelli is the offensive leader of the ball club. He posted a .316 batting average this season and scratched out 5 homers and 40 RBI. Derek Jones is the only consistent power threat. The .300 hitter leads WSU with 11 homers and is one of three players with 40 RBI this season. They do not run much, but watch for the Cougars’ Garry Kuykendall if they do decide to run. He leads the team with 12 swipes in 15 attempts.
What the Cougars lack in offense they make up for easily in pitching depth. Chard Arnold is the ace of the staff, sporting a 5-3 record and 3.47 ERA. He easily leads the club in inning pitched. His 98 2/3 IP is 40% higher than any other player on the team. James Wise and Paris Shewey both expect to see a lot of action this weekend. If Washington State gets to the 9th with the lead, Adam Conley will likely get the call. He leads the team with 11 saves this season and a 3.13 ERA.
Fayetteville Regional Projection: I expect Washington State to stick around all weekend. Their pitching depth and experience from last season will prove valuable. Wazzu should take care of business against Kansas State on Friday before being sent to the losers bracket by Drew Smyly and the Hogs on Saturday. Their pitching depth will come in handy then, defeating Kansas State before finally succumbing to the Hogs on Sunday.