By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
It’s been raining all day in Oxford, but Washington baseball coach Lindsay Meggs could care less. The Huskies are used to playing in rain, a lot of rain, during a given season.
Washington is the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s Oxford Regional, but actually ranked a spot higher than Ole Miss in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll at No. 13. The Huskies are entering their first game of the regional against Georgia Tech Friday afternoon with a 39-15-1 record.
They arrived a day earlier than the other teams in the field in order to get acclimated to the warmer weather, and to get used to playing on grass because the Huskies play on artificial turf. Washington was scheduled to practice at Oxford High School’s Edwin Moak Field, but those plans had to be moved inside when the rain hit Wednesday.
“We wanted to get to Oxford a little earlier because of the weather, because of the humidity. We wanted to get on a grass surface but that wasn’t an option because of the weather. The time change is also an issue, so all of that played into the decision to come in a little earlier,” Meggs said. “We almost expected it to be warmer than it is. I really did. We’re very much OK with this (temperature) and believe me, nobody in the four-team field here has played in more rain than we have. That’s not going to bother us at all, in fact, bring it on and let’s play through it.”
The Huskies are literally having one of their best seasons in school history. The last time they won 39 games was in 2004 when they last visited Oxford and competed in the NCAA regionals. There have only been three years prior where the Huskies have won 40 or more games, the last time coming in 2003 when they won 42.
Washington was picked to finish 10th out of 11 teams in the Pac-12 standings and ended up finishing second in the standings behind No. 1 national seed Oregon State. Not hosting a regional, after finishing second in a power conference, was a surprise to Meggs.
“I thought we should have been at home. Even though we lost that (UCLA) series … not necessarily just because of what we had accomplished, but when you come in second in the Pac-12, could you imagine the second-place team in the SEC on the road for the first round?” Meggs said. “We view the Pac-12 as strong as any conference in the country. I thought it was unusual for our conference. Based on our conference and total number of wins, I could see how (NCAA committee) could justify the decision, but I was still surprised. We’ve put that behind us though. We’re excited to be here and like I’ve said, sometimes the road has been better for us.”
After winning its first eight conference series, the Huskies lost to Oregon State and UCLA to end the regular season. (The Pac-12 does not have a conference tournament). Capturing a win in the series finale against the Bruins, however, made Meggs feel a little better about his team coming into the regional.
“We’re starting over like everyone is starting over and for some teams that’s good and for some that’s bad. For us, we’ve talked all year long that it’s a 56-game season to prepare for this. It’s like every weekend you’re auditioning for this and working on the things you want to do in the postseason,” Meggs said. “It was almost a sense of relief to get (regular season) over with and to get here, and we expect to play our best baseball now that we’re here. For us, it’s about the way we play and not getting caught in the up in the moment and understanding what the moment is, and then relaxing and enjoying it.”