Dec. 23, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Preparing for its debut in the inaugural season of The American Athletic Conference, Houston Baseball was tabbed to finish second in the conference’s preseason baseball poll, voted on by the league’s nine head coaches. Sophomore third baseman Justin Montemayor was also named a unanimous selection on the Preseason Team, announced Monday afternoon.
2013 NCAA College World Series participant Louisville was unanimously predicted to finish atop the league, receiving eight first-place votes, while the Cougars earned the lone remaining first-place vote for a total of 47 points. Houston joined UCF and UConn behind Louisville in second, while USF, Memphis, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Temple rounded out the remaining preseason rankings.
The Cougars, under fourth-year head coach Todd Whitting, return every position starter from a year ago and two of Houston’s starting pitchers. Houston is coming off a 36-22 campaign that saw itself rank among the nation’s Top 25 for over four weeks during last season’s run – ending the year with the nation’s third-best turnaround.
Montemayor was one of 15 American baseball student-athletes selected to the preseason team and was picked as the conference’s top third baseman heading into the 2014 season. The Austin, Texas native was also a unanimous pick, voted by the coaches.
Montemayor played his freshman season at first base, but will move to third base in 2014 with the return of redshirt senior Casey Grayson, who was out in 2013 due to an ACL tear.
ABOUT Justin Montemayor
Wrapped up arguably one of the best freshman campaigns (2013) in Houston Baseball history...Was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American at first base to cap off an award-winning season...Named C-USA Freshman of the Year - just the second all-time in program history...Started and played all 58 games for the Cougars at first base...Led Houston in average (.329), hits (73), runs scored (42), homeruns (3) and slugged .432 to accompany his 10 doubles and three triples...Fielding a strong first base for a .988 percentage...Broke Houston freshman all-time records in chances (575) and putouts (536)...Ranked first in C-USA in chances, putouts, fourth in runs scored, fifth in hits and average and 10th in total bases...Hit .337 in C-USA play with 29 hits and 10 RBI...Led Houston with 22 multi-hit games and finished third on team with eight multi-RBI games...Ended 2013 on an active 15-game on-base reaching streak...Hit a homerun in his first ever collegiate at-bat in Houston's season opener vs. Northeastern (Feb. 15)...Tallied a season-high four hits, twice, in win over New Orleans (March 15) and in a 4-for-4 effort with two RBI in C-USA Championship win over East Carolina (May 23)...Drove in three on two hits, including a homerun at Marshall (April 7)...Had two hits in a win over No. 30 Texas A&M at the College Classic (March 1), three knocks in win over Baylor (March 16)...Had a span of seven two-hit games in 10 contests from April 26 to May 11...Maintained a .300 or better average from March 1 to end of season
2014 Preseason American Athletic Conference Baseball Coaches' Poll
Place - Team (First-place votes) - Points
*1. Louisville (8) - 64
T2. Houston (1) - 47
T2. UCF - 47
T2. UConn - 47
5. USF - 34
6. Memphis - 30
7. Rutgers - 27
8. Cincinnati - 18
9. Temple - 8
* Unanimous Selection
Preseason American Athletic Conference Player of the Year: Jeff Gardner, OF, Louisville
Preseason American Athletic Conference Pitchers of the Year: Carson Cross, P, UConn & Jimmy Herget, P, USF
2014 Preseason All-American Athletic Conference Team
P - Carson Cross, RJr., UConn
P – Anthony Kidston, So., Louisville
P – Kyle Funkhouser, So., Louisville
P - Jimmy Herget, So., USF
*RP – Nick Burdi, Jr., Louisville
C - Carter White, Jr., Memphis
1B - Tucker Tubbs, Jr., Memphis
2B - Nik Alonso, RSo., USF
SS – Sutton Whiting, Jr., Louisville
*3B - Justin Montemayor, So., Houston
OF – Jeff Gardner, Sr., Louisville
OF - Ian Happ, So., Cincinnati
OF – Cole Sturgeon, Sr., Louisville
OF - Vinny Zarrilo, Jr., Rutgers
*DH - Bret Gordon, Sr., UCF
* - unanimous selection
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.