Winds bring welcomed change to baseball on the Palouse - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

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Winds bring welcomed change to baseball on the Palouse

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WSU says the key to its success this year has been pitching and defense (Photos: SWX) WSU says the key to its success this year has been pitching and defense (Photos: SWX)

PULLMAN, Wash, - The Washington State Cougars have just three games left on their schedule this season, wrapping up a home series with the University of Washington this weekend in Pullman. After that, they hope to do something they haven't done for a very long time: play a postseason game.

In fact, it's been 19 years since the WSU baseball team played a postseason game.  It was back in the days of legendary coach Bobo Brayton.  This season, the winds of change are blowing strong on the Palouse under fifth-year coach Donnie Marbut.

"It's a new generation now and we're playing good ball around here," said outfielder Jared Prince.  "So, hopefully the current state of Washington State baseball is coming into play."

Prince said both he and his senior teammates knew they were headed into an uphill battle, playing on a team that sat at the bottom of the Pac-10.  "We knew we had our work cut out for us," is how he put it.

"We wanted to change the culture around here and get this program going back in the right direction," said Greg Lagreid.

This year's team is riding the wind to a 16-8 Pac-10 record, good enough for second place in the conference.  Finishing that strong is something that means a lot to the team, and the town of Pullman.

"When you do some neat things in a town like this, it's really, really rewarding, and it's neat to see.  And that's always neat to be a part of," said coach Marbut.

Turning things around hasn't come easy for the Cougars.  In the back of their mind, they knew they had four straight seasons of finishing seventh or worse in the conference.  The key to this year's success, they say, is getting back to basics.

"Our bread and butter as a team is our pitching and defense," said Lagreid.  "That's kind of gotten us where we are right now."

"It's just a bunch of athletes out of the field playing together as a team," said Prince.  "And we've really come together this year nicely."

The increased success comes with increased expectations. 

"The goal is to year in and year out compete for the Pac-10 championship and try to take this team to Omaha and win a national championship.  It can be done," said Marbut.
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