Rice a Unanimous Preseason Baseball Favorite
Jan. 18, 2007
Coming off a trip to the College World Series, Rice has been selected as the unanimous preseason favorite in the 2007 Conference USA baseball poll, chosen by the league's nine head coaches. Owls junior pitcher/infielder Joe Savery, a consensus preseason All-American, is the Preseason C-USA Player of the Year. Rice hurler Cole St.Clair, who will move from the bullpen to starting duty this spring, was named as the league's preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Rice has been ranked No.1 in the three major preseason polls that have been released this season, after spending the majority of last season as the top-ranked team in the land. The Owls return 18 lettermen, seven position starters and 11 experienced pitchers from last year's 57-13 club and placed a league-high five members on the preseason All-Conference team. In addition to Savery (.335, 20 2B, 9 HR, 66 RBI) and St. Clair (7-2, 1.82 ERA, 100 K, 26 BB), shortstop Brian Friday (.353, 22 2B, 9 HR, 57 RBI, 17 SB) and outfielders Tyler Henley (..336, 26 2B, 8 HR, 54 RBI) and Aaron Luna (.322, Rice freshman record 16 HR, 50 RBI) earned All-C-USA recognition.
After earned its ninth straight NCAA Regionals berth and finishing with a 43-17 record in 2006, Tulane was chosen to finish in second place this spring. The Green Wave returns 23 lettermen, including eight starters, from last year's team and adds 10 newcomers. Of the returning players, Tulane brings back four players that earned preseason all-league honors. Junior starter Sean Morgan (8-6, 3.51 ERA, 125 K, 39 BB) and senior closer Daniel Latham (14 saves in 2006, school and conference all-time leader in saves) are joined by infielder Brad Emaus (.289, 17 2B, 6 HR, 45 RBI) and outfielder Warren McFadden, the 2006 C-USA Freshman of the Year (.382, 24 2B, 50 RBI), on the squad.
Houston, which is coming off an NCAA appearance and welcomes back 15 letterwinners and eight starters, was picked to finish third according to the league's coaches. Two Cougars, pitcher Ricky Hargrove (8-6, 3.31 ERA, 82 K, 27 BB) and catcher/pitcher Luis Flores (.288, 8 HR, 30 RBI, along with 6-3, 3.00 ERA, 67 K. 17 BB), are listed on the preseason All-Conference team.
Southern Miss, which has made four consecutive NCAA appearances, was chosen fourth, just ahead of East Carolina. The Golden Eagles are represented on the preseason team by junior shortstop Trey Sutton (team-leading .375, 14 2B, 4 HR, 32 RBI).
Conference USA's 12th baseball season gets underway on February 3. The conference tournament is scheduled for May 23-27 in New Orleans, with Tulane University serving as the host. C-USA's nine baseball schools have produced 50 NCAA appearances and seven College World Series teams over the past 11 seasons.
2007 PRESEASON BASEBALL COACHES POLL
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Rice (9) 2. Tulane 3. Houston 4. Southern Miss 5. East Carolina
(first place votes in parentheses)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
P Ricky Hargrove Jr. Houston P Sean Morgan Jr. Tulane P Joe Savery Jr. Rice P Cole St.Clair Jr. Rice RP Daniel Latham Sr. Tulane C Luis Flores So. Houston IF Adam Amar Sr. Memphis IF Brad Emaus Jr. Tulane IF Brian Friday Jr. Rice IF Trey Sutton Jr. Southern Miss OF K.K. Chalmers Jr. Memphis OF Tyler Henley Jr. Rice OF Aaron Luna So. Rice OF Warren McFadden So. Tulane DH/UT Brendan Murphy Sr. Marshall