Noble continues quest for Omaha
When Rayner Noble took over the UH baseball program in May 1994, he dreamed of someday leading the Cougars to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Though that dream has yet to be realized, Noble is far from giving up on his quest.
Noble, who is a former UH player and assistant coach, had a chance to reflect on this quest after recording his 500th career win in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning win over Kansas State.
The journey includes three NCAA super regional appearances, eight NCAA regional appearances, three Conference USA regular-season titles and three C-USA tournament championships. Noble hopes to add a College World Series appearance to that r’eacute;sum’eacute; soon.
‘I’ve had a vision here for a long time, and that’s to play College World Series baseball,’ said Noble, who is 501-359 in his 15th season at UH. ‘We haven’t reached that goal yet, but that’s what I’ll always be chasing.’
With the most wins in school history, Noble has established himself as one of the greatest coaches to grace UH’s athletic program. He took a program that was somewhat stagnant and turned it into a consistent postseason participant.
The Cougars earned berths in an NCAA regional in six of the seven seasons from 1997-2003, missing the postseason in 1998. They made super regional appearances in 2000, 2002 and 2003, each time advancing to the final game of a best-of-three series before being eliminated.
The Cougars went through rough stretches with no postseason appearances from 2004-05, but rebounded to make regional appearances in 2006 and 2008.
Noble might have delivered his best coaching performance last season, directing a team that relied primarily on its offense and several freshman and sophomore arms to a C-USA tournament championship and a trip to the College Station Regional.
UH fell one win short of winning the College Station Regional and advancing to its fourth super regional under Noble. However, just making the postseason under tough circumstances gave a jolt of confidence to a program that sorely needed it.
When the Cougars face Collegiate Baseball No. 10 Rice today at Reckling Park, they’ll get a chance to observe a program that has advanced to the College World Series in the last three seasons. Noble anticipates UH will someday have its moment in Omaha.
‘It’s going to be a special moment when it happens, and it will happen,’ he said. ‘Hopefully, it’ll be with this crowd right here.’