Cougars longing for return to prominence
Head coach Todd Whitting enters his first year as a head coach with a plan to reload — not rebuild.
Whitting graduated from UH and played from 1991-1995. After a six-year stint as an assistant coach at TCU and eight prior seasons as an assistant at UH, he will go back to donning scarlet and white.
Whitting assisted UH to four 40-win seasons, helped establish a school record of 48 victories in two seasons and helped UH to a nationally-ranked signing class in 2000. Returning UH baseball back to prosperity is Whitting’s top priority though it could come gradually.
“Everything about our program is a process,” Whitting said. “It‘s not only day by day, it‘s literally pitch by pitch.
“It won‘t be done overnight, but it starts with recruiting and the team we have right now. The kids we have in our program are working really hard. They have a great deal of pride, and they‘re looking forward to having a great season.”
The biggest adjustment for Whitting is running the entire program and focusing on managing a team, not just players.
“The assistant coaches are the ones in the trenches with the players everyday one-on-one,” Whitting said. “I‘m still very involved with player development. That‘s one thing that I enjoy. I think that is one of my strengths.”
Whitting — who played under former head coach Rayner Noble – brought a new staff that he sees as a compliment to Noble’s defensive brand of baseball.
His assistant coaches include a former player coached by Whitting at TCU, Steven Trout, who will coach the infield, hitting and baserunning. Jack Cressend is the team’s pitching coach, and Trip Couch is returning to UH as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
Whitting, along with his assistants, look to pitching and defense as the identity of the team. Whitting believes that to get to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. the team must have these two assets.
“The identity of any great team has to start on the mound,” Whitting said. “Second to that you have to have great defense. Pitching and defense, if those two things are steady, you‘re going to play deep in the post season.
“We’re going to be hopefully very offensive. You can‘t hang your hat on just scoring runs and driving the baseball in the ballpark. You have to be able to minimize the runs scored with your pitching and defense.”
The season opener is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 at Cougar Field when the Cougars host a three game set against UT-Arlington. UH begins Conference USA play on March 23 at Rice.