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Volume 70, Issue 77, Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Season's start just around the corner for Cougar baseball

Cougars picked to finish fifth in pre-season poll

Sports Commentary

Tom Carpenter

Nothing haunts a baseball player or fan like a beautiful expanse of freshly mowed green grass around a diamond-shaped infield that stands empty. It's an eerie walk west from the corner of Cullen Bouevard and Elgin Avenue that parallels deep center and left fields at Cougar Field.

But it won't be long until the good-natured gibes and excited shouts from the Boys of Summer fill the air at the batting cages off Elgin. Cougar fans will have the opportunity to watch baseball head coach Rayner Noble's 2005 squad muddy their cleats when the Cougars open their season Feb. 11 against No. 11 ranked Baylor at the Minute Maid Classic Feb. 11-13 at Minute Maid Park. 

The Cougar baseball squad will begin its season with the Minute Maid Classic held at the Minute Maid Park where Houston will face Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

Daily Cougar File Photo

The Cougars, picked by the Conference USA baseball coaches to finish fifth, continue the tortuous pre-conference path Noble plots for his teams each season. Along with the No. 11 ranked Bears, the Cougars face No. 23 Oklahoma State, No. 13 Texas A&M, No. 18 Rice five times in the Silver Glove Series, No. 2 LSU and No. 22 Long Beach State before facing No. 1 Tulane and No. 21 Texas Christian in conference play. 

No. 1 ranked Tulane was a unanimous pick to win the conference with TCU, East Carolina and Southern Miss picked to finish ahead of the Cougars. Trailing the Cougars in the coaches poll were South Florida, Louisville, Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Memphis and St. Louis.

The C-USA baseball coaches named junior outfielder Travis Tully a unanimous pick to the 13-man preseason All-Conference Team. Tully hit .308 and knocked in 23 runs in 2004 while stealing 17 bases for the Cougars. The Richmond native strung together a season high 20-game hitting streak, fourth longest in UH history, while starting all 59 games last season.

The Cougar baseball team will host their annual preseason banquet Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the UH Hilton and the Rayner Noble All-Decade Team will be announced during the presentation. The Cougars will also host the eighth annual Sterling Bank Silver Glove Series Luncheon at noon, Feb. 7, in the Great Hall of the Athletic/Alumni Center.

This makes the eighth consecutive season that the Sterling Bank Silver Glove Series will be played between Houston and the cross-town rival Rice. The Silver Glove Series is awarded to the team that wins the best-of-five series. The Owls have dominated the series, winning four in a row and six of the seven times the teams played for the Silver Glove trophy.

Noble, who begins his 11th season as Cougar head coach, and Rice head coach Wayne Graham will discuss the upcoming season and players from both baseball teams will attend the luncheon. 

Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and USF will leave the conference after the 2004-2005 academic year to become members of the Big East Conference. Rice, Marshall, Southern Methodist, Tulsa and the University of Central Florida will join the league as full members on July 1. 

Tulane Green Wave standouts Brian Bogusevic and Micah Owings were named to the Preseason All-America Teams. Bogusevic was named to the first team while Owings was accorded second-team honors.

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