Last spring’s University of Washington Huskies featured senior sluggers Brent Lillibridge, Kyle Larsen, Taylor Johnson and Nick Batkoski, but it was a freshman pitcher turned hitter from Kent, Washington that proved to be the Dawgs biggest stick. Mid-season injuries paved the way for Matt Hague’s offensive emergence. The young right-handed slugger made the best of his fortuitous opportunity instantly boosting UW’s heavy hitting lineup and never relinquishing his spot for the remainder of the season. He proceeded to hit .412 in the Pac-10 while blasting 5 HR and collecting 25 RBI. For the season, Hague hit .419 with 8 HR and 34 RBI in only 124 at bats. Matt started the season in the Husky bullpen. The hard throwing right-hander logged 19.1 innings over 13 appearances recording 1 win, 2 losses while posting a 6.52 ERA. Hague’s memorable freshman campaign earned him a share of UW’s team MVP award with Batkoski and second-team Freshman All-America honors (Baseball America).
Going into the 2006 season, Hague and Arizona State’s Zechry Zinicola are the Pac-10’s premier two-way players. The Husky sophomore-to-be wrapped an impressive summer with the Aloha Knights where he went 5-2 and posted a 2.33 ERA. He also played leftfield and hit .276 over 98 at bats. Matt earned WCCBL Player of the Week honors for July 4-10 for both his offensive and pitching exploits. He was also rated by Baseball America as the WCCBL’s 10th best prospect. Hague is eager to repeat his freshman success and lead the Huskies back to the post-season in 2006.
WCCBL.COM caught up with the Dawgs’ Freshman All-American, online of course, and asked him a variety of questions. The good natured Matty Hague kindly responded in the below On Campus interview.
wccbl.com: You are one of the rare two-way players in the game. Do you prefer hitting or pitching? Are you a better hitter or pitcher?
Hague: Hitting right now, but I like them both and like playing them both. I just had a little more success hitting last year then I did pitching.
wccbl.com: You shined as a hitter in the spring and as a pitcher in the summer. How fun was your freshman season and were there any particular moments that stood out?
Hague: My first game at Arizona with both of my first two college hits being home runs, also experiencing Wichita, Kansas for the NBC World Series.
wccbl.com: How did you like playing for the Aloha Knights and did you enjoy your first taste of summer collegiate baseball?
Hague: This summer was very fun and with alot of great guys on the team. It gave me an experience of meeting all types of people and I made alot of new friends fast. The coaches are great and give alot of good advice for playing hard and intense baseball.
wccbl.com: Who was the toughest pitcher and hitter you faced this spring/summer?
Hague: If that includes the Husky season definetly Dallas Buck of OSU with his fastball cutting in on your hands and slider cutting away from you at the last second and during the summer would probaly be Eddie Kunz (OSU) from Bellingham. For the hitters, it would be Steve Marquardt (Columbia Basin College) from Wenatchee and also Travis Vetters (University of Portland) from Wenatchee.
wccbl.com: The Huskies lost several key seniors. How do you feel about your club’s chances next spring?
Hague: Looking at fall ball I believe we will be very competitive. Although we are young, we have alot of talent and the potential and passion to reach the post-season.
wccbl.com: We hear you are living in a Husky house this school year, tell us more.
Hague: It’s a fun place to live…………….umm yeah.
wccbl.com: What did you work on this summer, and what part of your game did you most improve?
Hague: I worked this summer alot with pitching, and with Coach Stebbins. He gave me a couple pointers and we worked on adjustments. I got a great feel for pitching this summer. Also, I worked alot with hitting with wood bats. It’s a totally different game pitching and hitting with wood bats.
wccbl.com: What was your impression of the first-year West Coast Collegiate Baseball League?
Hague: I think it’s a great league to play in. You compete versus players from all over the country that are at an elite level. It was difficult and you learn alot playing against good competition.
wccbl.com: What was your favorite WCCBL ballpark and why?
Hague: I liked our park. It had a great mound, nice well kept infield and outfield, good stadium and we also had a mascot to top it off.
wccbl.com: You played outfield this spring and summer, but were seen taking pre-game groundballs all summer. Who is a better infielder, you or your Husky teammates Brandon McKerney, Kyle Parker or Andy Lentz?
Hague: I would definitely say Lentz. I think Parker, McKerney and myself are a little rusty taking ground balls. And even if we did find a way to the infield, we would have to make a throw to first base.
wccbl.com: What series are you most looking forward to next spring and why?
Hague: The WSU series since they are coming to our park and they are our biggest rivals.
wccbl.com: What player or players that you saw this summer do you think are going to be impact guys this upcoming spring?
Hague: I believe my whole summer team has a good shot of making a big impact on their programs this year. We had alot of young talent. After watching Tommy Hanson pitch this summer I definitely think he will have a great impact on Riverside CC or at the pro level. I also think our leading hitter big Wally Crancer will help Georgia Tech win some games. I also believe my summer teammates will impact their college teams with their attitudes. Not one guy on our team was hard to get along with and with all the good guys on my Aloha team, they all should make a big impact.