Whitting optimistic about baseball program’s future
His team hasn’t set foot on the diamond in a few weeks, but head coach Todd Whitting speaks with an enthusiasm that would imply he booked a trip to the College World Series.
Whitting cannot mask his enthusiasm and it isn’t hard to figure out why. Thirty-six wins, a national ranking for the first time since 2008, the best non-conference record since 1994, four players drafted, and two players named Freshman All-Americans by Louisville Slugger, were the results of the Cougars’ last season.
“When I talk about unfinished business, I’m talking about playing in Omaha, for the College World Series,” Whitting said. “We’re not as far away from that as we were three years ago. We just have to keep keep signing great players while developing the players we have.”
Before a single pitch was thrown in the 2013 season, the team lost senior infielder Casey Grayson and senior outfielder Jacob Lueneburg, to season-ending injuries.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that we would win 36 games without those two guys I would’ve said no way,” Whitting said.
The season started on a tear as the Cougars hit 20 wins before anyone could tell what was going on. The Cougars never growled louder than they did at Cougar Field, where they put up a 23-9 record.
The Cougars 36-22 record is an 18-game improvement from 2012 and is an example of the competitive selection process for the the NCAA tournament. Had they been a football team, they would have earned a spot in a bowl game.
Whitting’s devotion to the program stems from both dedication to his job and the fact that he is a UH alumnus.
“For me, as an alum of the University of Houston, I’ve been to Omaha, it’s a great experience. I want everybody involved in this program to be able to have that experience of watching the Coogs play in Omaha.”
To him, the success of this season, while allowing him immense pride in his club, is both the rumblings of something bigger and the harbinger of high expectations. While amassing 36 wins with a fleet of freshman and transfer students, he knows the 2014 season will have higher expectations.
“The expectation level is raised, but my expectation every year is to go to the NCAA tournament,” Whitting said. “I think it’s going to be a ballclub of a lot of confidence. The team sees what their goal is and that it’s not unattainable.”
While expectations will always be present, so will the impending aura of the MLB and its siren song of millions of dollars to be had playing professionally.
Whitting and his assistant coaches are in the midst of the recruiting flurry, working both roads and phones pursuing the potential men of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Described as a cycle, you would think he’d sound tired, but instead he sounds like he already has days on the calendar marked off until the games start up again next season.