New baseball coach Lindsay Meggs hopes to upgrade Husky Ballpark
Washington baseball coach Lindsay Meggs says Husky Ballpark needs to be upgraded for team to compete nationally.
Special to The Seattle Times
Lindsay MeggsAge: 47.
Four-year college head coaching record
Chico State, 1994-2006: 538-228, .700. Won Div. II national titles in 1997 and 1999. Appeared in seven Div. II College World Series. Twice named Div. II coach of the year.
Indiana State, 2007-09: 77-79, .494. Missouri Valley coach of the year last season after leading team to 33-21 overall record, second place in conference.
Career totals, 16 seasons: 615-307, .666.
Previously: Head coach at Long Beach (Calif.) City College (1991-93) and Oxnard College (1989-90); assistant at Cal Lutheran (1988-89) and De Anza Junior College (1987-88).
College: Starting third baseman for four seasons at UCLA, honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 1983; drafted by the Brewers in 1983, drafted by the Royals in the 15th round and signed in 1984. Earned degree from UCLA in 1985 and master's from Azusa Pacific in 1992.
Personal: Native of San Jose, Calif. Married, with three children.
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If they build it — a significantly upgraded version of Husky Ballpark, that is — better days for the Washington baseball program will come.
That is a core belief held by new UW baseball coach Lindsay Meggs as he steps into a position held for 17 years by Ken Knutson. Meggs will coach his first Huskies game at 6 p.m. Friday, against New Mexico State, part of a four-game weekend series in Tucson, Ariz.
Meggs coached at Indiana State the past three years and before that was twice named NCAA Division II coach of the year during 13 seasons at Chico State. He was hired in July to coach a team that last played in the NCAA tournament in 2004, last won a Pac-10 title in 1998 and has never reached the College World Series.
Meggs says UW faces a perpetual recruiting challenge when all Pac-10 foes play in plusher surroundings, including some layouts that resemble Class AAA minor-league stadiums.
"We have to redefine the facilities," said Meggs. "We have to add to what is quite possibly the best indoor facility in the Northwest (Dempsey Indoor, opened in 2001) to a more standard level Pac-10 baseball stadium.
"For me, that's priority No. 1 in terms of what has to happen for us to compete nationally. We need to get that done."
Meggs says everything at Husky Ballpark, opened in 1998, needs a facelift.
"We want to be able to call it a place, win or lose, that's a nice venue to sit and watch a baseball game," he said.
Can it happen?
"We're talking to donors who have an interest in our program and want to see the University of Washington succeed," Meggs said. "I'm optimistic about the chances of getting something done very soon because of the people we've talked to who have a lot of energy and resources and interest. So I think it's going to happen."
On the field, Meggs, 47, is at work installing a brand of play that emphasizes defense, base stealing and pitching — a departure, he acknowledges, from UW's recent longball orientation.
"My coaching style has always been about playing a high-pressure game," he said. "On offense I've never been very patient. I've never felt very comfortable sitting around waiting to hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning.
"People around here are used to winning games 15-14. We're trying to get them excited about 5-4. That's a challenge."
Meggs' inaugural roster consists entirely of Knutson recruits. He says "three or four" players left UW soon after he was hired. Key challenges he anticipates in year one: a lack of depth and experience on his pitching staff (he has 12 pitchers; he'd prefer 15); merging his small-ball style with a roster built for power.
Even so, he says the 22 returnees from last year's 25-30 squad that finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10 are adapting.
"We're trying to get guys excited about the way we want to play the game," Meggs said. "I think they came here with a little bit of a different skill set than what we would look for, with a different plan in mind. But they've been great and open-minded. They've really worked and gotten better.
"Give credit to the last staff. They brought in some very good freshmen (nine) who are very athletic, who can run and understand the value of that game. I think they are almost opening the eyes of older guys. They see these guys battling during intrasquad games and how speed can change the dynamic of the game."
• Washington hosts 2008 NCAA champion Fresno State in its home opener Feb. 26, the first of a three-game series with the Bulldogs.
• Knutson, tops in career wins (584-399-2) among UW coaches, is now the pitching coach at Arizona State.
• Top returning hitters include junior Pierce Rankin (.299 last year with a team-high 14 doubles), a Shorecrest grad, and sophomore Caleb Brown (.279). Sophomore right-hander Andrew Kittredge (4-5, 4.27 earned-run average) has the top returning ERA.