Baylor, Houston, Rice, TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech will square off at Enron Field from February 1-4 as the 2001 college baseball season gets underway in Major League fashion. The Classic, featuring teams from the former Southwest Conference, will include five schools who participated in the 2000 NCAA Tournament.
Beginning at 10:00 a.m. Monday, tickets will be available at the Enron Field Box Office (Window 11) on weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and at area TicketMaster outlets. To order by phone, please call (713) 629-3700.
Ticket prices are $25 for the entire tournament, $5 for Thursday's single game between Rice and Baylor, and $10 each day Friday through Sunday. Children, ages 4-14, will be admitted for $5 daily.
The 2001 Houston Astros College Baseball Classic will be held in conjunction with the Astros FanFest (February 3-4), the winter baseball carnival where fans can meet players and coaches, play interactive baseball games, and participate in baseball discussions. The purchase of a $10 ticket for Saturday or Sunday games ($5 for children) will also be good for admittance into FanFest on that day. Additional information on FanFest will be released at a future date and will be available for fans on the Astros website at www.astros.com.
Houston, the No. 5 national seed for the 2000 NCAA Tournament, earned a final ranking of 11th in the country by Baseball America. The Cougars were 48-18 overall and 21-4 under head coach Rayner Noble, the back-to-back Conference USA Coach-of-the-Year. UH won the C-USA regular season and tournament championships, hosted an NCAA Regional and Super Regional and earned national respect as one of the country's elite programs last season.
Baylor, reaching the NCAAs for the third consecutive year, captured its first Big 12 Conference baseball title last season. The Bears were 45-17 overall, 23-7 in conference play. The Big 12 crown marked Baylor's first outright baseball conference championship in 77 years. The Bears finished the season ranked No. 14 in Baseball America's Top 25 rankings.
Since winning the final Southwest Conference tournament championship in 1996, Rice has been to two College World Series and captured five consecutive conference titles under head coach Wayne Graham. The Owls, 43-23 overall and 19-11 in the WAC, advanced to their sixth straight NCAA tournament in 2000. For 2001, the Owls will feature a pair of preseason all-Americas in shortstop Eric Arnold and pitcher Kenny Baugh, plus top-notch starting pitchers in Jon Skaggs and Jeff Nichols.
Texas posted its most victories (46) and its highest final national ranking (No. 7) since 1993. UT captured its 26th NCAA Regional title, garnered its first-ever NCAA Super Regional crown and made its NCAA-record 28th College World Series (CWS) appearance during the 2000 campaign.
TCU, which lost four All-WAC players from the 2000 team, was 22-34 overall last year, 12-18 in the WAC. The Horned Frogs beat Rice in their final regular-season game of the year last season, handing a ranked opponent a loss for the eighth time. Led by head coach Lance Brown, the Horned Frogs are seeking their first NCAA berth since 1994.
Texas Tech, 32-26 last season, is seeking its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. The Red Raiders were 36-26 overall last season, 18-12 in the Big 12. Head coach Larry Hays will return 12 letter winners from last season's team.
ASTROS COLLEGE BASEBALL CLASSIC SCHEDULE Thursday, February 1 Baylor vs. Rice 6:00 p.m. Friday, February 2 TCU vs. Texas Tech 11:00 a.m. Baylor vs. Houston 3:00 p.m. Rice vs. Texas 7:00 p.m. Saturday, February 3 Baylor vs. TCU 11:00 a.m. Rice vs. Texas Tech 3:00 p.m. Houston vs. Texas 7:00 p.m. Sunday, February 4 Houston vs. Texas Tech Noon Texas vs. TCU 4:00 p.m.