Loggers continue to improve with youth movement

Loggers continue to improve with youth movement

TACOMA, Washington – The 2018 Puget Sound baseball season was a great indicator of the Loggers' bright future. Kyle Strash was named the 2018 Northwest Conference Freshman of the Year after he led the NWC in both batting average (.393) and on-base percentage (.524) through the regular season. Strash was also tabbed the D3baseball.com West Region Rookie of the Year. 

Puget Sound freshmen and sophomores combined to hit .284 through 768 at bats this spring, by far the most at bats among NWC freshman/sophomore classes. On the mound, Logger underclassmen combined to make 101 appearances – once again leading the NWC.

Sophomore lefties Joe Brennan and Makoa Mau were regulars in Puget Sound's weekend rotation. Although they both struggled at times, the young Loggers showed plenty of signs of their true potential. Brennan totaled five quality starts (min. 6.0 IP, max. 3 ER), including seven shutout innings during a 9-0 conference win against Pacific (March 17). 

Brennan's first start of the season was nearly identical to his last start of the spring. He opened the season (Feb. 10) by blanking Lewis & Clark through six innings, while allowing five hits. Brennan allowed just five hits through six shutout innings against Pacific in his last start of the year (April 29).

Mau earned NWC Pitcher of the Week following a dominant performance at Linfield (March 10). He punched out 10 batters in a complete-game victory, 7-2.

After serving as the team's closer in 2017, junior Michael Warnick found himself in the starting rotation in 2018. He did not disappoint. His 3.81 ERA and 7.44 K/9 IP led all Loggers with at least 10 IP.

Offensively, the Loggers did not miss a beat with their abundance of young bats. In fact, Puget Sound improved offensively from 2017. As a team, Puget Sound increased its batting average from .243 to .292, and the Loggers scored 135 more runs in 2018 than they did in 2017. 

Both Cal Muramaru and Mason Quinlan missed several weeks due to injury, but the duo was still very impactful. Muramaru (90 AB) hit .389 with 14 stolen bases, and Quinlan (99 AB) hit .343 with a .505 slugging percentage.

Jack Gries hit atop the lineup for most of the season, and he led the Loggers in runs scored with 29. Gries finished the season with a .348 batting average, and he received Puget Sound's Harry Werbisky Award for Skill, Scholarship, and Determination.

Nick Ultsch also earned a Puget Sound honor during the All-Sports Celebration. After leading the Loggers in home runs (4), RBI (32), and slugging percentage (.534), Ultsch received the Dill Howell Award for Most Improved Student-Athlete. 

Gries was named to the All-NWC Second Team, while Warnick and Hunter Riley were named All-NWC Honorable Mention.

The 2018 season also included the second consecutive season in which Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran went head-to-head at Cheney Stadium (April 16). And for the second consecutive season, the Loggers won at Cheney Stadium, 11-10.