Cougar Baseball Notebook

JUST HOW GOOD A season was WSU sophomore outfielder Derek Jones having before he was shelved with a hand injury following an errant pitch April 25 against Oregon State? So good that he's missed the last seven games and still leads the surging Cougs in home runs (eight), is second on the team in stolen bases (nine), and is third in RBI (27).

Jones, the Pride of Snohomish, was batting .289 and had a team-leading .563 slugging percentage when he went down. He is expected to be back in action within a week.

THERE'S A TON OF BASEBALL yet to be played this season, but at this point the award for Greatest Unexpected Head-Turning Season has to go to junior pitcher Paris Shewey of Redmond. All he's done this campaign is come on in relief 22 times and pitch 43 innings of 2.70 ERA ball. Opponents are hitting .192 off him. His won-loss record is 6-1 and he has two saves -- the second coming in Tuesday's win over Portland.

WITH THE SWEEP of No. 18 Cal over the weekend and then Tuesday's victory over Portland, the Cougar baseballers are now 26-17 overall and 9-9 in Pac-10 play. They head down to Stanford for a critical three-game series this weekend.

Baseball America took notice of the Cougs' sweep of Cal and now projects that the Palouse Pumas will make the Big Dance for the second consecutive season. The Cougs are dubbed an "on the bubble (in)" team, along with the Golden Bears.

"Washington State is 9-9 in the conference and 45th in the RPI, and they can remain in the top 45 with a 7-6 finish," writes BA's Aaron Fitt. "That won't be easy with road series remaining against Stanford and UCLA, but Wazzu does have quality series wins against Cal, Oregon State and Arizona State on its resume. For now, that's enough to get them back into the field of 64."

Speaking to the strength of the Pac-10, Fitt says five other conference teams are safely into the post-season: Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona.

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