D. Ryan Monceaux
Cougar sophomore hurler Shane Nance has been chosen to represent the USA National Team in its quest for a world championship.
Nance was chosen several months ago to attend training camp in Tucson, Ariz., but was informed Saturday that he had made the travel roster.
"I had confidence in myself that I would make the travel team," Nance said.
Forty-four players were invited to camp, but only 26 made the travel roster. The team will begin competition today in Managua, Nicaragua, to determine who will advance to the World Championships in Italy in July.
The USA National Team plays in the continental tournament against Argentina, Canada, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela, with the top five teams advancing to Italy.
In addition to its international competition schedule, the National Team will play games in Tucson against international baseball powers such as Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
In preliminary games to determine who would make the travel squad, Nance impressed head coach Ron Polk and his staff with his stellar work out of the bullpen. In three appearances, all in a closer role, Nance pitched 4.2 innings of one-hit ball. Nance struck out eight in his limited work.
In an 8-5 loss to Canada on Sunday, Nance came into the game and struck out three of the last five hitters to help Rice's Mario Ramos get out of a late jam and give the U.S. bats a chance to pull off a late charge.
Polk was very impressed with Nance's pitching, plus his will to win.
"He has a good fastball, but his changeup is the pitch that gets people out. I want to commend Coach (Rayner) Noble on his work with Shane," Polk said. "Shane has a lot of talent, a lot of tenacity and that will help him in the long run. His performance so far is just what we expected from him."
Nance's other accomplishments in his short UH career include being Freshman All-American and C-USA Freshman of the Year in 1997 and a member of First Team All C-USA.
Nance compiled a record of 9-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 106.2 innings of work this season for Noble and will return next year as the ace of the Cougar pitching staff.