Commentary: Returners will be key for Cougars this season
The baseball team looks to follow a remarkable 2015 season as they take to the field against the Villanova University Wildcats on Feb. 19 at Cougar Field.
When fans come out to the ball park, they will notice some familiar faces on the roster who are looking to achieve even more success on the diamond this year. Despite losing eight players to the MLB draft, head coach Todd Whitting has his returning lettermen ready to go for the upcoming season.
To get you ready for all the action that will take place later this month, here are some returners on the Cougars’ roster to become familiar with:
Corey Julks (INF/OF)
Sophomore Corey Julks is a versatile fielder who can also swing a bat. Julks is proficient in the infield and outfield, making him pivotal to the success of the Cougars’ defense.
In his freshman season, Julks batted .302, tallying 54 hits that resulted in 38 RBIs.
His remarkable play in the postseason last spring earned him a spot on the 2015 NCAA Houston Regional All-Tournament Team. Look for Julks to be a key contributor with his bat and glove in 2016.
Jacob Campbell (C/UTL)
Jacob Campbell is looking to make his senior year a memorable one. Last year, Campbell was a breakout performer and arguably the most improved player on the team.
He played in 58 games and was able to compile a batting average of .301 while driving in 41 runs. Campbell displayed great poise at the plate on his way to drawing 24 walks.
If Campbell continues to improve at the plate, he should again be an important part of the Cougars lineup.
Josh Vidales (INF)
Expectations are high for senior infielder Josh Vidales, who was named to the 2016 American Preseason Team. In each of his three seasons at UH, Vidales has improved in nearly every statistical category and will look to do the same this season.
Vidales dazzled in 2015 on his way to batting an even .300 and accumulating 39 RBIs, while totaling an astounding 73 hits by the end of his junior year. He scored 49 times, which proved to be a huge attribute the Cougars’ success in 2015.
What Vidales lacks in power, he more than compensates with his ability to get on base and make sure plays in the infield.
Seth Romero (LHP)
After an outstanding freshman season in 2015, sophomore Seth Romero looks to add to his already impressive résumé in the new season. Romero received national recognition when he was named to the 2016 American Preseason Team and the Preseason Second Team Perfect Game All-American.
The sophomore southpaw hopes continue his success, as he was able to attain a 7-4 record with a league-leading 1.94 ERA.
Romero was a feared pitcher starting and out of the bullpen, striking out 94 batters, nearly one-third of all he faced. Whether in the starting rotation or in relief, Romero will bring valuable experience to the pitching staff.
Andrew Lantrip (RHP)
Already named to the Top 100 Preseason College Prospects List by Baseball America, Junior Andrew Lantrip has his sights set on playing at the next level.
A huge contributor last season, Lantrip posted a 9-3 record while compiling an outstanding 115 strikeouts. Controlling his pitches was not a problem for the right-hander, walking 23 walks all season.
A real work horse, Lantrip pitched three complete games, giving Houston one of the best pitching rotations in the nation. His 6-foot-2-inch frame brings an intimidating presence to the mound that the Cougars will surely benefit from.
Overall, expectations are high for the Cougars as they come into the 2016 season ranked 18th nationally. They will have plenty of opportunities to climb the ranks as they take on formidable opponents such as Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, the University of Arkansas and crosstown rival Rice University.