PULLMAN - State funding for Washington universities continues to dwindle, but Washington State baseball coach Donnie Marbut can't say enough good things about what his team has received from Olympia.
Marbut, preparing for today’s season opener at Cal State-Bakersfield, offered high praise for ex-Olympia High School standout Adam Conley and former Capital High star Jason Monda.
Conley, who moved from the bullpen into the starting rotation down the stretch last season, has been named WSU’s No. 1 starter. The junior left-hander posted a 5-4 record and 3.33 earned run average last season.
Marbut said Conley’s fastball was recently clocked at 97 mph. The coach predicts Conley will sign a lucrative pro contract after going high in the draft this June.
“He’s one of the premier pitchers in the country right now,” Marbut said.
Conley is scheduled to start today for the Cougars, who are ranked as high as 31st in preseason polls. WSU returns a solid core from a squad that had a 37-22 record and lost in the regional finals last year.
Monda, a freshman, is competing for playing time in center field and at first base.
“There’s not a lot of guys in the country that are 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, throwing left, hitting left and running (6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash),” Marbut noted. “I feel he has the highest ceiling of any position player I’ve ever been around.”
Cody Bartlett, a former Kentridge star who hit .323 last year, has moved from second base to shortstop. Chad Arnold, WSU’s No. 1 pitcher in 2010, is recovering from an elbow injury and will miss the opening weeks of the season.
The Cougars finished third in the Pacific-10 Conference last season. Seven Pac-10 teams are ranked in preseason polls.