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Friday, January 15, 2021

Baseball

UH baseball has competition at all positions


Houston baseball catcher Kyle Lovelace at the plate to bat during game one of the red-white series at Schroeder Park. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

UH baseball catcher Kyle Lovelace at the plate to bat during game one of the red-white series at Schroeder Park. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

After splitting the first two games of Houston baseball’s annual fall series, in which the athletes are divided into a red and white team, the final game featured a little bit of everything.

There was a mammoth shot of a home run, incredible defensive plays and late-inning rallies that all eventually led to sophomore infielder Brad Burckel’s walk-off single to deep right field to give team red a 5-4 win and overall series victory.

Despite these games only being scrimmages, the players were extremely energetic, screaming from their dugouts and fully engaged in every pitch, which gave it a feeling of a real in-season game.

Todd Whitting, who has been coaching in college baseball since 1995 and is entering his 11th season as skipper for the Cougars, was extremely pleased with what he saw from his team.

“Of all the years I’ve been in college baseball, I thought that (this) was the best Fall World Series that I’ve been a part of,” Whitting said. “It was three hard-fought games. Two teams trying to win. Doing everything they can to win.

“I think it’s a really special club.┬áThe way they fought hard for three days, you can’t ask for any more of your team.”

Burckel further emphasized how the makeup of this year’s Houston team is unique.

“We’re going to be a tough team,” Burckel said. “We’re always pretty scrappy but I think this is one of the scrappiest teams we’ve had. We have power. We have speed. We have a little bit of everything; you can expect everything to come out this year.”

Not only does Whitting believe his team consists of a special group of guys who each bring a wide variety of skills and talent to the table, but he also loves how deep his team runs.

“We have tremendous competition at a lot of positions right now,” Whitting said. “I told them there’s no position on the field that’s set (no matter if they are a) returner, new guy or started last year, because we have depth like we’ve never had before.”

The competition was on full display during the fall series as almost every athlete on the roster got a chance to take the diamond over the three games to show what they are made of and display their talent.

While certain players stood out during the fall series, the battles for a starting spot are far from over and could be won by anyone.

“We’ll pick back up in January and those battles at each position will keep going,” Whitting said.

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