Cougar baseball earns national ranking, Connor Wilford earns national praise

Baseball ranked 20th nationally for first time since 2010



WSU pitcher Connor Wilford throws a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against Southern Indiana, Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU baseball (14-4, 2-3 Pac-12) received its first national ranking since 2010. The Cougs were ranked No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball rankings.

With the Cougs receiving their national ranking, pitcher Connor Wilford received two awards for his pitching against then-ranked No. 15 Oregon State. Wilford received the PAC-12 Pitcher of the Week Award, as well as the Collegiate Baseball Player Of The Week award.

These awards come after the series against the Beavers over spring break. The Cougs traveled down to Corvallis, Oregon and won the series as they won two-of-three games against Oregon State. The only game they lost was the first of the series by a score of 5-1.

Wilford was outstanding in the series against the Beavers, throwing strike after strike and closing the doors on the high-powered Beaver offense.

“Fill it up, pound the zone, throw a lot of strikes,” Wilford said.

Wilford appeared in the first game of the series and the last game against the Beavers. The first game saw him pitch four innings. He faced 14 batters, struck out six and walked one. The most impressive stat was that he allowed zero hits and zero runs in his four innings of work.

In the last game of the series, Wilford had his number called to face nine batters in three innings of work. In his three innings, he struck out three. Wilford once again allowed zero hits and zero runs, he also had no walks in his outing. Wilford picked up the win in the game, bringing his record to 2-0 on the season.

With the success that Wilford had against the Beavers, it is easy to take all the credit, but that is not like Wilford. He was quick to credit his teammates for the win and describe just how dangerous this Coug team can be.

“Got a whole lotta dogs on my team, whole lotta dogs,” Wilford said.

Wilford has led his team to success against Oregon State but their pitching as a whole is the main reason the Cougs are off to their incredible start.

WSU is currently 36th in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings with 7.67, first in the nation is LSU with 5.12.

The Cougs are also the 31st best in the nation for combined ERA as they have an ERA of 3.74. First in the nation is Tennessee with a combined ERA of 2.05. The highest-ranking team pitching-wise the Cougs have is a combined strikeout-to-walk ratio. WSU is 14th in the nation with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. First is Wake Forest with 13.4.

The Cougs lost the last two games against Oregon.  Look for Wilford to come in and continue his hot streak as they compete in their second conference series of 2023.

Their next non-conference single game will take place as the Cougs head to Spokane to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Steve Hertz Field at Patterson Baseball Complex.