Feb. 6, 2014
HOUSTON – Very similar to the infield, the Houston Outfield that will grace the turf at Cougar Field this season will showcase familiar faces, who look to use speed and experience, to solidify a strong offensive and defensive core.
The Cougars will look to seniors Landon Appling, Jacob Lueneburg, junior Michael Pyeatt and sophomores Kyle Survance and Ashford Fulmer to lead the way as this group will ride the strength of speed after stealing 40-of-47 bases a year ago to lead Houston, who paced the conference in that category.
“Our outfielders are similar to our infield situation. We return everybody out there,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “That’s where we can really play with the lefty-righty matchups depending on who we’re facing that day.”
“There are a lot of things that we can do with our outfield, and a lot of moveable parts that can make us formable,” said Whitting. “If one guy cools off, we have another one that we can run in there right behind him to hopefully pick up the slack. Our outfield defense will be good.”
This balanced group of outfield veterans will allow Whitting to play against certain matchups.
“There are a lot of different types of those weapons in the outfield. You’ve got some power guys, guys that can run, and a guy that can do a little bit of both,” said Whitting. “Depending on the day, and how everybody’s playing will kind of dictate what the lineup is.”
Coming off his second straight .300+ season at the plate and holding down a steady left field the last two seasons will be junior Michael Pyeatt, who was just recognized on Perfect Game’s Preseason All-American Athletic Conference Team.
“[Michael] Pyeatt has been extremely steady out in the outfield for us the last couple of years playing left field,” said Whitting. He could possibly DH some for us as well. That’s the case with all these guys. They can be in-and-out of the lineup as a DH or as an outfielder and that makes us even more valuable as a team.”
Michael Pyeatt | Junior-2L | Lake Jackson, Texas | Brazoswood HS
· Produced his second straight .300 season with a .313 average in 2013 for second-best on team
· Made 41 starts and played in 49 games a year ago
· Finished with a .434 on-base percentage to rank first on the team and among the league’s best
· Didn’t commit an error in conference play
· Produced the team’s third-longest on-base streak at 17 games
· 2012 C-USA All-Freshman Team
· 2012 All-Silver Glove Series
· 2012 Commissioner’s Honor Roll
Returning for his fourth and final season as a Cougar and manning centerfield will be Landon Appling. The El Campo, Texas native has the ability to change the game with his speed and consistency defensively in centerfield for Houston.
“You have Landon Appling who is a senior returner and has been a three-year starter for us, and is a great defender,” said Whitting. “He’ll anchor things in center field for us.”
Landon Appling | Senior-3L | El Campo, Texas | El Campo HS
· Has started 160 games and played in 162 in his three-year career
· Led the outfield with 53 starts in 2013
· Recorded 15 stolen bases last season
· Holds a .988 fielding percentage in his career with 415 putouts and 67 assists
· 2013 Commissioner’s Honor Roll
· 2013 Preseason C-USA Team
· 2012 C-USA All-Tournament Team & All-Silver Glove Series
· 2011 C-USA All-Freshman Team
In right field you will see a familiar face in reigning Freshman All-American Kyle Survance. He is coming off an impressive debut season that showcased his speed.
“ [Kyle] Survance is coming off a great freshman year. He hit .299 last year, and was a Freshman All-American, Second Team All-Conference player, and led the league in stolen bases,” said Whitting. “He’s got a chance to be a high impact player for us, and probably hit towards the top of our lineup. He’ll probably slide in there in the two-hole to start off the season.”
Kyle Survance | Sophomore-1L | Jersey Village, Texas | Jersey Village HS
· Led Conference USA in 2013 with 20 stolen bases
· Finished with a .299 average on 50 hits, 36 runs scored and 20 RBI as a true freshman
· Second on the team with nine sacrifice bunts
· Primarily bats in the second hole
· Started 43 of the 51 games in right and left field
· Named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American
· Honored on the C-USA All-Conference Second Team & All-Freshman Team
· Was named to the All-Silver Glove Series Team
The Cougars are fortunate to have depth in the outfield and two guys that can slide in and play multiple outfield positions depending on offensive matchups. Joining these three are sophomore Ashford Fulmer and senior utility player Jacob Lueneburg.
Fulmer saw action for the first time in his career a year ago after earning a medical redshirt in 2012. He has the ability to change a game according to Whitting. He can play both centerfield and right field for the Cougars and has a lot of power offensively.
“[Ashford] Fulmer is a tremendous athlete,” said Whitting. “He has an electric bat when he’s rolling. He’s got a chance to change games with his offense, his defense, and his arm.”
Ashford Fulmer | Sophomore-1L | Cypress, Texas | Cypress Ranch HS
· Appeared in 50 of the 58 games in 2013, primarily in right field
· Had three triples for second-most on the team
· Finished 5-for-5 in stolen bases
· Received a medical redshirt in 2012
· 2013 Commissioner’s Honor Roll
Returning to the Houston lineup after missing the 2013 campaign is Jacob Lueneburg. He is coming off a medical redshirt season and provides the Cougars with needed depth at multiple positions. The Caledonia, Wisc. native can hit in the middle of the lineup and also use his speed to track down balls deep in the outfield. The combination of speed and power provides Whitting options at several positions.
“[Jacob] Lueneburg is a very steady defender that can not only play great defense on the infield, but in the outfield as well,” said Whitting. “He is very talented and we are happy to have him back this season.”
Jacob Lueneburg | RS-Senior-1L | Caledonia, Wisc. | Kishwaukee College
· Earned a medical redshirt in 2013
· Appeared in 52 games with 48 starts in 2012…Saw action in right field and at first base
· Had 13 stolen bases to lead the team in 2012
· Two-time Commissioner’s Honor Roll recipient
Overall, the Houston Outfield will continue to showcase speed and strong defensive attributes with this returning group. Whitting and staff will play to Appling, Pyeatt, Survance, Fulmer and Lueneburg’s strengths and with that, the Cougars will have yet, another strong year.
“We’ll continue to run a pressure type offense, especially with the turf going down at home,” said Whitting. “It seems to be a pretty fast track out there, so that’s going to play to our advantage; being able to move the ball around and get guys started up, and hopefully be able to advance runners via a stolen base as opposed to a bunt. I’m excited about the outfield weapons we have because they will kick start our fast-paced style of play.”
Stay tuned for the Houston Baseball Pitchers/Catchers preview on Friday.
Houston Baseball is less than two weeks away from the start of the 2014 season. The Cougars will welcome Nicholls State to Cougar Field on Feb. 14-16 for a three-game, opening weekend set. Game times are slated for 6:30 p.m. (Friday), 6:30 p.m. (Saturday), 1 p.m. (Sunday).
Come out and support YOUR Cougars and take advantage of all the promotional days, including FRIDAY FRENZY, Bingo at the Ballpark (Saturday) and Kids Day (Sunday).
Any kid 8th grade and under wearing a Houston Baseball Camp t-shirt to any home game will received FREE ADMISSION!
A LOOK AT THE 2014 SCHEDULE
Houston Baseball will once again take advantage of its home crowd by playing 33 home games at Cougar Field, including seven of the first eight games. Following a trip to California, the Cougars will return home to host the next 13 games during the month of March, which includes Baylor, Rice and the opening of conference play with Memphis.
Houston will open its 2014 slate by hosting Nicholls State in a three-game series on Feb. 14-16. This year will mark the first time since 1988 these two programs have met on the diamond with Houston owning a 28-13 overall record.
Houston is also set to host non-conference opponents Michigan (Feb. 21-23) - for the first time since 1998, McNeese State (Feb. 26), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (March 4), Baylor (March 11), Towson (March 14-16), College of Charleston (March 21-23), Texas State (April 8), Sam Houston State (April 22) and Prairie View A&M (May 6).
The Cougars will compete for the first time in the inaugural American Athletic Conference and will welcome Memphis (March 28-30), Louisville (April 11-13), USF (April 17-19), and UCF (May 2-4) to Cougar Field as part of league play.
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
By visiting UHCougars.com, clicking the Tickets link and following the appropriate links or by clicking here, fans can begin purchasing and requesting specific seats within the friendly confines of Cougar Field.
Reserved Houston Baseball season tickets will be allocated after the renewal deadline (Friday, January 17, 2014). General Admission seats include 33 "Anytime Tickets". You may use one ticket to each home game, 33 tickets to one game, or any combination in between.
General Admission season tickets start for as low as $150 (33 home games/$4.50 per ticket), while Reserved season tickets start at only $200 (33 home games/$6.00 per ticket).
Families can purchase the Family Plan for just $399, which includes two adult and two youth General Admission tickets to each of the 33 home games. The Family Plan does not include the "Anytime Tickets" package.
Fans also can purchase season tickets by visiting or calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275).
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /HoustonCougarBaseball. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.