UA to face Huskies without Duncan, Pemble
Every baseball team needs a Ryan O'Donnell.
The junior, who has played every position from designated hitter to left field this season, will get a chance to start this weekend against Washington in Seattle.
He replaces sophomore right fielder Shelley Duncan, who partially tore elbow ligaments two weeks ago against No. 1 ranked Stanford and is expected to miss the majority of the regular season.
O'Donnell, who has secured the right field position following stellar outings against the Cardinal and Southern California, will lead the Wildcats (18-20 overall, 3-6 Pacific 10 Conference) against the Huskies in a pivotal three-game conference series.
According to UA head coach Jerry Stitt, O'Donnell seems to be finally getting his chance to develop into an everyday player after being a role player all season.
"He's a heck of a player," he said. "Ryan has stepped up this year in left (field) and at designated hitter."
Even Duncan, the regular starter, seems to have bought into O'Donnell's style of play.
"Ryan's awesome," he said. "He should have started in the first place."
Sophomore Ben Diggins (8-0, 2.48 ERA) will try to continue his eight-game winning streak tonight against the Huskies (12-15, 2-4). Diggins is off to the best start in 25 years for the Wildcats.
"He needs to get his innings in, and we need to play well when we get behind," Stitt said.
UA heads to Husky Ballpark this weekend minus another relief pitcher.
Sophomore left-hander Brian Pemble, the team's third starter at the beginning of the season, will not make the road trip due to an undisclosed injury.
"We've got to wait for the doctors to tell us what's wrong," Stitt said. "Pemble's not going to make the trip for us."
Despite the injuries, the team is trying to stay positive heading into a critical road trip. The Wildcats must win the series to stay in the hunt for a Pac-10 title.
"We've had guys injured before," Stitt said. "It's just one of those things you have to learn to deal with as a coach. (The injuries) aren't by any means devastating. Devastating would be having only three guys on the team."