Sept. 30, 2008
HOUSTON - The University of Houston baseball team will look to build off a successful 2008 season when it begins fall practice Wednesday at Cougar Field.
Practices are tentatively set to begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be closed to the public during the week. The weekend practices will be open to all fans, and times will be announced on a week-by-week basis.
The Cougars also have tentative plans to play host to two fall games during the fall practice schedule. Houston will play Alvin Community College on Oct. 11 and San Jacinto College on Oct. 18. Details regarding the games will be posted at www.UHCoguars.com as they become available.
The fall practice schedule will culminate on Nov. 8 when the 2008 Cougar Baseball team receives their 2008 Conference USA Championship rings and will be honored at the Houston football game against Tulane.
Leading the way offensively is junior centerfielder Zak Presley. Presley leads all returnees with a minimum of 200 at bats with a .310 batting average last season and he finished the season as a 2008 Conference USA All-Tournament Team selection. Presley is a regular presence in center field and rattled off an 18-game hitting streak midway through last season that ranks tied for seventh longest in UH history.
Sophomore infielder Blake Kelso will add a presence defensively. He was one of only two players to start all 66 games last season and was honored in the postseason as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. The Pflugerville, Texas native started his freshman season batting in the ninth position but moved to the leadoff spot in the third game and remained there the rest of the season.
Sophomore utility player Matt Murphy will look to get back in the Cougar lineup after missing the final month of the 2008 season due to an injury. Despite missing 21 games, Murphy finished the season with a .278 batting average and added eight doubles, a triple, a home run and 28 RBI.
Leading the way on the mound is junior lefthander Wes Musick. Musick finished 2008 with a 4.35 ERA and a 8-4 record. The Lufkin, Texas native won his first five games to open the season and was named to the South Central All-Region Second Team and was an All-Conference USA Second-Team selection.
Musick was also taken in the 24th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the San Francisco Giants.
The Cougars will also look to sophomore righthanders Jared Ray and Chase Dempsay. Ray was 4-2 last season, including a 4-3 complete game win over No. 9 Texas A&M at the NCAA College Station Regional. For his efforts, Ray was named to the NCAA College Stational Regional All-Tournament Team.
Dempsay joined Kelso as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America, last season, in addition to taking home Rivals.com Freshman All-America First Team and Pro-Line Athletic NCBWA Freshman All-America First Team honors. He set Cougar freshman records with 11 saves and eight wins, while becoming only the fourth player in UH history to record double-digit saves in a single season.
Joining the Cougars this season will be 12 newcomers. Right-handed pitcher Michael Goodnight, out of Westside High School, was picked in the 27th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians.
The Cougars open the 2009 season on Feb. 20-22 when they plays host to Kansas State in a weekend, non-conference series at Cougar Field. The series begins at 6:30pm on Feb. 20, continues at 4pm on Feb. 21 and will wrap up at noon on Feb. 22.