The series — 2 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Saturday; noon Sunday
Probable pitching rotation (2010 statistics) —Niagara, LH Joel Klock, RH Tyler Spear, RH Kody Kasper (1-3, 12.20 ERA). WSU, RH Tim Kelley (11-2, 3.94), LH Charlie Lowell (3-2, 3.25), LH Josh Smith (4-3, 5.02)
* Niagara, a private school located in Lewiston, N.Y., is picked sixth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Purple Eagles went 17-36 in 2010.
* Klock is a freshman. Spear is a transfer from Fort Scott Community College. He went 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA as a sophomore. Junior P Cody Lillich is from Spring Hill and Hutchinson Community College. 1B Ryan McCauley redshirted at Northern Iowa in 2009, the final season of baseball at the school. He hit .300 with four home runs as a freshman at Niagara last season. His 40 RBIs ranked second on the team. INF Brian Deering hit .302 with three home runs.
* Expect a starting lineup that looks something like this for WSU: C, Chris O'Brien; 1B, Johnny Coy; 2B Walker Davidson; SS Tyler Grimes; 3B Erik Harbutz; LF Garrett Bayliff; CF Kevin Hall; RF Don Lambert; DH Preston Springer. Stephenson will experiment with lineups this weekend. He is looking for depth in the outfield. Wednesday at practice, Harbutz played in left and looked like a natural tracking down fly balls. Ryan Hege could get a look in right. "We have to look at every possibility, because we are already not very deep in the outfield," Stephenson said. Hege is also a possibility at 1B and C.
* Kelley will be happy if he can continue his success from the final weeks of the 2010 season. In his final five starts, he compiled a 1.85 ERA with 40 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 innings. LH Brian Flynn will likely be WSU's first option out of the bullpen. Flynn, a redshirt sophomore, was academically ineligible and did not pitch in 2010. WSU starters probably will be limited to five innings this weekend as they build up their pitch counts.
* Springer and Coy combined for 18 home runs last season. That's WSU's most potent returning duo since 2004 with Drew Moffitt (18) and Logan Sorensen (8). WSU hit 64 home runs in 2010, but three of its double-digit producers are not back — Cody Lassley (11), Ryan Jones (10) and Bret Bascue (10).
* WSU is 59-0 at home in February under coach Gene Stephenson. It is 31-2 in home openers.