3 pretty clear conclusions in assessing WSU's struggling baseball team

PERHAPS HARD to believe with a cursory glance, but Washington State's miserable baseball season -- which includes one win in the last 10 games following Monday's 9-4 setback at Gonzaga -- actually contains a silver lining. The Cougars' proficiency with the bats this season is not only light years better than last season but among the top five teams in the Pac-12 in key categories.

Which of course points to two dark realities when assessing the Cougars' 2-10 Pac-12 record and 15-18 overall mark: the pitching is Bobby Ayala bad and the defense rivals Swiss cheese.

Before diving into the carnage, let's get back to that silver lining. Here's where the Cougar bats currently stand in the Pac-12 (actually 11 because Colorado doesn't play baseball):

  • Batting average: .274 (5th )
  • RBI: 160 (5th)
  • Walks: 148 (3rd)
  • Slugging percent: .396 (5th)
  • On-base percent: .374 (2nd)
  • Runs scored: 177 (5th)

The Cougs are middle of the road in home runs, at 16, but already have equaled their entire 2016 output in dingers.

Six regulars are hitting .297 or better and the overall team average is 26 points better than it was in 2016. Sophomore outfielder Justin Harrer out of Sisters, Ore., and junior third baseman Shane Matheny out of Bremerton are setting the pace as the Cougars' leaders in average, RBI and slugging percentage.

Pitching is another story entirely. Except for No. 3 starter Cody Anderson out of Marysville (2.57 ERA, .213 BA against, and 42 strikeouts in 49 innings), the work on the hill has been mostly sobering:

  • ERA: 5.42 (10th)
  • Opposing BA: .278 (9th)
  • Wild pitches: 46 (11th -- as in most in the league)
  • Hit batters: 44 (also 11th)

And the Cougars are struggling just as badly on defense. They've committed 43 errors (second-most in the league), including nine in their last four games -- the loss at Gonzaga and three losses at Arizona State. The Cougs sport a league worst .965 fielding percentage and have given up 33 stolen bases (second-most).

One thing also is true of this season's Cougars: they play much better at Bailey-Brayton Field than on the road. And they have some home cookin' coming up. They host Seattle U on Wednesday; Washington in a three-game series that starts Friday; and then Gonzaga on April 25. All but the Seattle U game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. Click here for the full schedule and here for a break down of the Pac-12 standings.

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