Last spring’s freshman sensation Jared Prince is affectionately nicknamed “Captain Cougar” by his head coach, Donnie Marbut. Jared turned in the most productive offensive and defensive year at WSU since ex-major leaguer John Olerud. In doing so, he earned numerous accolades including All-Pac-10 and freshman All-American honors. But Jared’s focus is far from the past or individual achievements. Prince is the consummate team player and a leader of men. As a sophomore, he was voted the team’s captain, literally making him Captain Cougar. No one will dispute that Prince is the Cougars heart and soul. Led by the Prince of Poulsbo, Washington, don’t bet be surprised to see WSU in an NCAA Regional this year.
It’s worth mentioning that Prince is the Pac-10’s pre-season pick for Player of the Year. Last year, Jared was arguably the conference’s top two-way player. He started in the outfield and was part of the Cougs starting rotation. Jared led WSU in hitting with a .401 batting average, homeruns with 9 and RBI with 58. On the mound, he went 6-2 over 12 starts and posted a respectable ERA of 4.53. To top it off, he registered a 1.000 fielding percentage, playing a superb rightfield.
After a stellar spring and a week getting acquainted with wood with the Aloha Knights of the WCCBL, Prince was invited to tryout for Team USA. Despite a valiant effort, he didn’t make the cut and soon returned to Aloha. With the Knights, he suffered an arm injury that prevented him from pitching or playing outfield. But Prince contributed to the team’s late-season run at a playoff spot as the club’s designated hitter and de facto leader. Prince hit .308 for Aloha earning a spot on the league’s DeMarini All-Performance team. At the conclusion of the season, Jared was named Baseball America’s #1 WCCBL prospect.
Jared is a special young man with a great future in the game. As legendary Cougars head baseball coach Bobo Brayton mentioned in his speech at the WCCBL’s inaugural All-Star game dinner banquet, this country needs more leaders like Jared Prince.
Captain Cougar was kind enough to take time out of his busy class and baseball schedule to answer a few online questions for wccbl.com. Check out his responses below.
wccbl.com: As a leader, how are you pushing this year’s Cougar team to be its very best?
Jared: First of all thanks for having me. The expectations around Pullman have changed, as a team we expect to be competitive and win. We expect to be successful and it’s part of my role as a captain and veteran to plant that attitude in our young guys and other guys. As a captain, I feel it’s part of my role to challenge as well as encourage my teammates. We are raising the bar here and it is part of my job to make that clear and get everyone to raise it as well.
wccbl.com: What was the key to your success last spring and summer?
Jared: The key to my success last spring was learning from game to game. Playing baseball is about going through a process as a player. It is a very result oriented game and if you get caught up in that side of the game it can sink you. Learning and improving from my successes and failures was vital to my growth and success as a player. Recognizing who I was as a player and what I needed to do to be successful and working at it was key to my success.
wccbl.com: What was it like trying out for Team USA and what will you remember most about this experience?
Jared: Trying out for Team USA and playing on the same field as thirty of the best college players in the nation was a great experience. Playing with the best of the best players with USA on your chest and seeing that your just as good as them was very exciting. I have many fond memories from that experience. One was the brutal schedule, waking up early each day and either going to a new state or playing an intrasquad doubleheader and then a game against the home team of that city all in front of big crowds. Also, I remember the crowds of people waiting outside the stadium waiting for us to play. Signing a picture of yourself handed from a complete stranger is a unique experience. It was a great experience that I enjoyed and learned alot from.
wccbl.com: What was your impression of the WCCBL and how was it swinging wood?
Jared: The WCCBL is a very competitive league and very exciting league. Each team we visited was competive and featured a unique environment and atmosphere. The league top-to-bottom was very well matched and it seemed that every game was hard fought. Last summer was my first time swinging wood and sometimes it got frustrating beccause I wasn’t used to having a bat break in my hands. But it was a good learning experience and I got better and more comfortable swinging wood as the season went along.
wccbl.com: Are the 2007 Cougars Pac-10 title contenders?
Jared: Absolutely 100% yes!!! We are a seasoned team with Pac-10 experince with real good young guys, meaning freshmen who will contribute right away to this team’s success. We are a hungry group. We have been working hard this off-season to put our stamp on college baseball this upcoming spring. We have depth and speed, but most importantly we respect each other. The respect we have developed for each other allows us to challenge each other, but still have that friendship off the field. We say this to each other all the time that it’s a great year to be a Coug!
wccbl.com: What was your favorite WCCBL trip and ballpark?
Jared: My favorite trip might have been to Kitsap, because I’m from Poulsbo and that area, so I kinda got the welcome home treatment, which was very nice. The other fun trip was our trip to Kelowna, Canada. It was a long trip, but it’s beautiful up there and the area was really nice. My favorite ballpark was Wenatchee’s. I only played there once, in the All-Star game, but the atmosphere was really electric and the field and ballpark were great.
wccbl.com: If you are Captain Cougar who is Captain Chaos? Is there a team prankster that keeps the team loose?
Jared: Team prankster? Last year it was no doubt Mike Wagner who is now pitching in the Indians organization. I don’t know if there is a guy that pops out like that this year, but we have our guys that seem to live in the locker room and those guys are goofy. This year’s team is more universal in that we all seem to make fun of each other and joke around with each other rather than an individual prankster.
wccbl.com: Who were the toughest pitchers you faced in the Pac-10 and WCCBL last year?
Jared: Last season the Pac-10 was very tough as far as pitching goes. I think there were 5 first-rounders and a few 2nd and 3rd rounders. The toughest was probably Tim Lincecum of Washington because he had such a goofy delivery and threw really hard with a nasty hook. But there were a lot of tough guys believe me!!! In the WCCBL, the toughest and goofiest was fellow Coug Ross Humes from Kitsap. Ross is a stud and had a great summer. I’m glad he’s on my team now.
wccbl.com: Thanks for your time, Jared. Best wishes!
Jared: Thanks alot for having me. Best wishes in 2007!!!! GO COUGS!!!