High rank bears high expectations for Houston
The number seven, commonly associated with luck by everyone from gamblers to athletes, bears a different meaning to the UH baseball team.
The luck brought by the number seven was that a day after the ranking was announced, Baseball America put Houston as number three in their preseason poll on Monday, the highest ranking the program has ever had
The ten teams in the Baseball America, with UCLA and Oklahoma State being the only outside-the-South teams to appear, showed Houston at No. 3, resting among college baseball’s legacy programs.
The highest ranked team from the Lone Star State, Houston now shows the gilded effects of hardwork, skill and the occasional dash of luck.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” said head coach Todd Whitting, the man voted Best Coach in the city of Houston by the Houston Press. “It’s gratifying to know that we’re (respected) around the country for what we’ve done the past few seasons. For us, that’s all part of the operations.”
The Cougars’ strong performance last season has shown others that Houston is not a team to overlook. However, a higher ranking creates higher expectations.
“I think people are starting to notice us,” junior outfielder Kyle Survance said. “This time, we’re not going to sneak up on anybody. We’re going to have a target on our backs.”
Houston has progressed from 18-35 to 48-18 in three years and run all the way to the Super Regionals in Austin against Texas. These feats show why the Cougars have earned top 10 rankings, helping them to move from the blue shadow cast from Reckling Park.
“It’s nice that people think higher of us than they did last year,” senior pitcher Jared Robinson said.
“But we have to stay within ourselves and not get too carried away with the feeling.”
Robinson, who rose to fame within his sport for his performance in the Baton Rouge Regional last season, was calm in his thoughts about the upcoming season.
“It feels the same as it always does,” Robinson said. “People expect us to do well, but nothing really changes. We still have to work hard and try to go a little farther than we did last year.”
As far as momentum, a word used often in the world of sports, Robinson was skeptical of the concept.
“We like to say that the past is history and the future is a mystery. Last year is over and we’re starting new.”
The mindset of letting their work speak for themselves, echoed by Survance, seems cemented in to the team’s personality.
“Honestly, I don’t think many of us are paying too much attention to it,” Survance said about the top 10 spot. “Everyone’s just been doing that same thing they’ve been doing. The only poll that matters is the one at the end of the season.”