The Oregon State Beavers baseball team starts its season this Friday in Surprise, AZ, with eight games between February 19 and February 28 in two different tournaments. The home season in Goss Stadium at Coleman Field begins on March 11, and the Beavers have high expectations for the 2016 season, as indicated by preseason rankings and a talented roster hungry for success.
Last season, the Beavers went 39-18-1 and found themselves being eliminated in the NCAA Regionals. This year, OSU would like to return to the College World Series in Omaha, where the Beavers have ended their season four times in Manager Pat Casey’s 10 trips with the team to the NCAA Tournament. Of course, Oregon State won back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007.
As noted above, the Beavers are a Top 5 entering the season according to aggregate rankings from Baseball America, Perfect Game, the Coaches’ poll, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association. Fellow Pac-12 teams Cal (No. 9) and UCLA (No. 10) also are ranked in the Top 10, however, so the league gauntlet will be a fun one once again. In-state rival Oregon (No. 13) and historic power USC (No. 20) round out the conference’s presence in the preseason aggregate Top 25.
However, the Beavers were a near-unanimous choice to win the Pac-12 in 2016, according to the league’s coaches. Oregon State received 98 of a possible 100 points in the poll released on February 4. Last year, the Beavers finished second behind the UCLA Bruins.
Oregon State will be led by two key players in 2016, both of which have received preseason honors already: catcher KJ Harrison and closer Mitch Hickey, both sophomores coming off outstanding freshman campaigns. Last year, Harrison hit .309, with 12 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 60 RBI; that last figure led the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Hickey notched 11 saves along with a 4-1 record and a 2.28 ERA. Harrison has been named to the initial Watch List for the Golden Spikes Award, USA Baseball announced yesterday, while Hickey has been named to the preseason watch list for the NCBWA’s Stopper of the Year, announced Monday.
The Beavers open their 2016 season Friday with a 1:00 p.m. local time game against Ball State in Surprise, played at Surprise Stadium. Unfortunately, the game will not be televised, and there will be no live video of the game. There will be no live video available during the OSU stay in Surprise. Fans can follow the in-game statistics live via osubeavers.com, however.