The School: the University of Washington
Location: Seattle, Washington
The Mascot: the stoic Husky.
Record: 32-21, 17-13 in Pac-12 play. That last part sounds impressive until you realize a Utah team that went 6-16 against non-conference opponents won the league crown this year.
How'd They Get Here?: At-large bid.
Best Win: Washington won two of three games when No. 21 Arizona came up to Seattle back in March. As a whole the Huskies went 16-11 against top 50 opponents, but never faced anyone tougher than the Wildcats. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, played 14 games against the eight teams ranked higher than them in the RPI. The strength of competition edge here swings wildly towards Vandy.
Most Embarrassing Loss: Washington State went 19-35 this season, but rivalry games are screwy things, so the Cougars beat Washington in two of three contests to start May. The Huskies also dropped a pair of games to No. 152 UC-Riverside, but that was back in February, and everyone knows that's way too early to play baseball. Otherwise, this team only lost two other series from March on -- to NCAA Tournament snub Oregon State and sub-.500 Pac-12 champions Utah.
Yeah, it wasn't a great year for teams out west.
Most Terrifying Batter: Washington has power up and down the roster; six players clubbed four home runs or more this season. The Huskies are led by CF Chris Baker, who stood atop the team rankings in basically every offensive category. DH Josh Cushing is just as volatile. He slugged .482 in just 114 at-bats this season and will add another tough out to the tail end of the UW lineup. Nine different players batted .280 or better for the team this season, so Vanderbilt's pitching will have to be on point in a potential showdown with the Pac-12's No. 2 team.
Pitcher Most Likely to Feast on the Bottom Third of the Vanderbilt Lineup: Like UC Santa Barbara, UW's pitching rotation rolls one deep, so if both teams run with their aces on day one, Vanderbilt could be in pretty good shape. However, even ace starter Noah Bremer has been just okay this season. He's got a solid 3.17 ERA, but he pitches to contact (64 Ks in 93.2 innings) and might not crack the top 20 pitchers Vandy has faced this season.
Instead, the scariest pitcher the Commodores will see will be closer Troy Rallings. Batters are hitting just .155 against him while striking out about 30 percent of the time. If the 'Dores are trailing late, Rallings can make their day a heck of a lot worse in the ninth inning.
Ed. Note: Only, he won't. He's out for the weekend, and so is set-up man Will Bellowe. Swing away, 'Dores.
Best NCAA Tournament Result: This will be Washington's 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament. The team has never advanced beyond Regional play.
Should Vanderbilt Be Scared?: Washington has better hitting than UC Santa Barbara and worse pitching. The Huskies gave 15 starts this season to a freshman with a 6.30 ERA. That could be exactly what the Commodores need to jumpstart a trick-or-treat offense in the postseason. However, UW has the bats to harass Vandy's pitchers, and last week's SEC Tournament performance proved anything's possible.