Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 81

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C-USA picks UH to repeat as champs; three players honored

By Josh Gajewski
Daily Cougar Staff

Accolades continued to roll in for the UH baseball team on Tuesday.

USA Today's Baseball Weekly magazine labeled the Cougars as the ninth-best team in the country, with cross-town rival Rice rated at No. 7.

Thus far, two other major preseason polls have come out, and each of them has UH in the Top 10.

Barry Watson/The Daily Cougar

Brandon Caraway, shown here at the UH alumni game, was tabbed preseason All-C-USA by the league's coaches. In 1999, he hit .363, hit 6 homers, and stole 27 bases.

Collegiate Baseball magazine has UH at No. 10 in the country, while Baseball America has UH at No. 6 in the nation.

"The players deserve to be ranked where they are," UH head coach Rayner Noble said. "They are a proven team and they're geared up and ready to play."

Meanwhile, Conference USA coaches voted UH to repeat as the conference champs in 2000. The Cougars received the same honor a year ago, and made good on it, winning their first league title in 39 years.

Individual honorees from the coaches poll were Kyle Crowell, who was named Pitcher of the Year for 2000 (11-2, 2.55 ERA in 1999) along with second baseman Brandon Caraway (.363 avg., 6 HR, 37 RBI, 27 SB) and catcher Jarrod Bitter (.389, 12 HR, 57 RBI) -- all were named to C-USA's All-Conference Team.

"Personally, it's satisfying to be in the Top 10," Noble said. "Its been a long, hard grind getting this program to this point."

UH opens the season at No. 17 Texas Feb. 4-6. and will have Crowell on the mound for opening day. Shane Nance will pitch on that Saturday, with the third starter yet to be determined.

First baseman J.P. Woodward, who injured his first-rib during the offseason, may even be ready for the season-opener.

"It all depends on how he feels," Noble added. "Right now, it's more of a day-to-day thing rather than long-term."

Woodward batted .381 last season, hit 18 homers, and drove in 66 runs. 

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