The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Year one under Nathan Choate – season preview

Goals, expectations of the 2024 season
WSU+baseball+meets+pregame+before+taking+on+the+Linfield+Wildcats+at+Bailey-Brayton+Field%2C+March+29.
BRANDON WILLMAN
WSU baseball meets pregame before taking on the Linfield Wildcats at Bailey-Brayton Field, March 29.

WSU baseball will employ their 18th head coach in program history and seventh new head coach while in the Pacific Conference to start the 2024 season. It will be an uphill battle, as only two of those coaches during the Pacific Conference era have had a winning record in their first season.

Those two coaches were Chuck Brayton, the first new head coach during this era and Brian Green, the coach that new hire Nathan Choate is replacing as head of the table. Choate said he is ready to get started and he wants to bring the program back to glory. 

“WSU. It’s a pretty historic program. I’m excited for the opportunity to help our team leave a legacy this year, especially for all those older players. I know I’ve heard them say several times they want to leave the place better than they found it, and I look forward to accomplishing that,” Choate said. 

Under Brian Green from 2020–23, the Cougs went 62-56, but never finished above eighth place in Pac-12 standings. The Cougs have struggled as a team over the past decade, last making an NCAA Regional in 2010, a 37-22 overall season and a third-place finish in the Pac at 15-12. 

WSU has only made the College World Series four times in program history, in 1950, ‘56, ‘65 and ‘76. Snapping a nearly 50-year drought will be something that would cement Choate as an all-time great, but it is not something that will define his successes. 

One way that Choate wants to accomplish that is to convince the team to play confidently and focus on the smaller details while ensuring that the focus remains primarily on execution. 

“We’re really striving to make it about our execution and not our emotion,” Choate said. “I think if we can do that, we’ll be more consistent.”

The players have bought into that vision despite the seniors coming to WSU with one coaching regime and having their former coach depart ahead of their final season. 

“We’re gonna pitch with swagger and confidence, and I think a lot of the guys you know, right now are pitching with that,” senior starting pitcher Grant Taylor said.

Choate has been a pitching coach for 20-plus years, notably commanding a staff last season that finished sixth in the nation in walks per nine innings and top-30 in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

“I’m a pitching and defense guy. So, really trying to put an emphasis on attacking the strike zone, pitching down, pitching with a changeup, pitching in and then defensively playing premium defense and not allowing free 90 feet,” Choate said. 

WSU begins the season with eight games away from Pullman, with their first home series starting in March with a four-game series against Rhode Island from March 1–3, featuring a doubleheader Saturday, March 2.  

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to play someone else and ready to put this team up against other teams,” senior shortstop Kyle Russell said. “This offseason I built a better foundation for my swing to be more consistent throughout the whole season. I’m looking for a little bit more consistency throughout the season with bat on ball.” 

Those four games will be the only home non-conference games the Cougs will play prior to their Conference schedule. However, some home non-conference games will be sprinkled in during the regular season. 

Utah is the first Pac-12 matchup for the Cougs, a series that will run March 8–10 in Pullman before another extended road trip. 

Part of a head coach’s duties is to be the face of the program. Instead of listening to and following someone else’s vision, Choate is now responsible for building the vibe around the WSU baseball program. 

“At the end of the day, it really is my job to help kind of lead that culture, define it and get our players and coaches to live up to that standard,” Choate said.

One way that he has done that is by reconnecting with Cougar baseball’s past. They took the team picture for 2024 at a barn on the Palouse with the hashtag #PalouseFieldOfDreams. 

“The barn picture was really important to me because I wanted to pay tribute to the players that have played here in the past,” Choate said.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.