Chicago, IL -- The University of Houston baseball team was picked to finish third in Conference USA on a preseason poll of the league's 10 head coaches the C-USA office announced on Tuesday, January 23.
The Cougars have lost 16 lettermen from the C-USA and NCAA Regional championship team of last season. Houston was tabbed for third behind Tulane and Southern Miss teams that are both currently ranked in the nation's Preseason Top 25 by Baseball America.
Cincinnati, UH's opponent in the championship game of the C-USA Tournament a year ago, was picked fourth while Charlotte was fifth. Rounding out the poll are South Florida, UAB, Louisville, Memphis, and Saint Louis.
The first game of the season will be Friday, February 2, against Baylor downtown at Enron Field. To kickoff the season the baseball program will play its annual varsity-alumni games on Saturday, January 27, at 12:00 noon at Cougar Field.
The two games, starting with an exes vs. exes game followed by an exes vs. varsity contest, will be the first look at the 2001 Cougar baseball team. No less than 19 newcomers have joined the squad for 2001. Head coach Rayner Noble welcomes back nine returning lettermen from last season's 48-18 team that hosted an NCAA Super Regional.
Following the games there will be a baseball alumni reception and dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Allen Center. All former baseball lettermen are invited to attend the day's activities and may call assistant coach Todd Whitting at 713-743-9415 for more information.
2001 PRESEASON BASEBALL COACHES POLL (as selected by C-USA's head coaches) PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 1. Tulane 2. Southern Miss 3. Houston 4. Cincinnati 5. Charlotte 6. South Florida 7. UAB 8. Louisville 9. Memphis 10. Saint Louis PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jake Gautreau, Tulane (Junior, Third Baseman) PITCHER OF THE YEAR Chad Rogers, Southern Miss (Senior, Righthander) ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM P Shea Douglas So. Southern Miss P John Gorham Jr. South Florida P Chad Rogers Sr. Southern Miss RP Curtus Moak Sr. Cincinnati C Darren Welch Jr. Southern Miss IF Daniel Boyd Sr. South Florida IF Jake Gautreau Jr. Tulane IF James Jurries Jr. Tulane IF Kevin Youkilis Sr. Cincinnati OF Michael Artman Sr. Southern Miss OF Dusty Haley Sr. Southern Miss OF Matt Singer Sr. Cincinnati OF Mike Taylor So. Charlotte DH Steve Shirley Sr. Tulane