Houston Cougars baseball

The Houston Cougars baseball team is the college baseball team of the University of Houston. Along with the university's other athletic teams, the baseball team is a member of the American Athletic Conference as a Division I team. They play their home games at Schroeder Park. In addition to numerous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Cougars have made two College World Series appearances. Houston has been led by head coach Todd Whitting since 2011.

Houston Cougars
2023 Houston Cougars baseball team
Founded1947
UniversityUniversity of Houston
Head coachTodd Whitting (13th season)
ConferenceThe American
Big 12 (2023)
LocationHouston, Texas
Home stadiumSchroeder Park
(Capacity: 5,000)
NicknameCougars
ColorsScarlet and white[1]
   
College World Series runner-up
1967
College World Series appearances
1953, 1967
NCAA regional champions
1953, 1967, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2014
NCAA Tournament appearances
1951, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1967, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
Conference tournament champions
1951, 1953, 1960, 1997, 2000, 2008, 2014, 2017
Regular season conference champions
1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1960, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2018

History

Early years and Lovette Hill era

Lovette Hill, ca. 1958

The University of Houston's baseball program started in 1947. Head coach Ned Thompson was hired from Pasadena High School, and became the first baseball coach for 1947, backfield coach in football from 1946 to 1948 for the University of Houston. He also served as associate athletic director in charge of business finances from 1946 to 1976. Among the players for his 1947 baseball team was pitcher Bill Henry who had been a forward on Thompson's state high school championship basketball team the year prior.[2] Following his 1947 efforts for Houston, Henry went on to become Houston's first player to play Major League Baseball, where he enjoyed a 17-year career.

During the first few years of the baseball team's existence, head coaches came and went, and after the third season, the team had already been through three. Houston's fourth head baseball coach, Lovette Hill broke this trend when taking over for the 1950 season. A year after Hill became coach, the Houston Cougars appeared in their first NCAA Regional. The 1953 season was one of the team's most historic and winningest years as they made their first College World Series appearance. Continuing with Lovette Hill, the Cougars appeared in several more NCAA Regionals throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Appearing in the 1967 College World Series against the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Cougars won runner-up and finished with a #2 national ranking. The team began by playing their home games at nearby Buffalo Stadium, before moving into an on-campus facility.

Walton era

After a 24-year tenure with the Cougars, Lovette Hill retired, and Rolan Walton took over as head coach. Walton had previously served with the Cougars in the early years under Hill as a player.[3] He later played as a shortstop for the Victoria Rosebuds, a Texas League team, before leaving in 1954. During Walton's time as coach, the Cougars appeared in two more NCAA Regionals throughout the 1980s. Also during this time, the University of Houston discontinued their stint as being independent from any college athletic conference, and joined the now defunct Southwest Conference in 1976.

Stockton era

In 1987, the University of Houston hired Bragg Stockton[4] as head coach, and appeared in another NCAA Regional the same year. Before Stockton retired after the 1993 season, the Cougars made one more appearance. Playing under Stockton were several standout players including Rayner Noble. After a brief stint of playing in Minor League Baseball, Noble returned to the University of Houston as an assistant coach under Stockton. In 1994, following Bragg Stockton's retirement, Rayner Noble was named head coach of the Cougars. Stockton however, was not completely done with the team, and returned for the 2002 season as a volunteer coach. Working with Noble for only a year, Stockton died.

Noble era

Rayner Noble at Cougar Field

After becoming head coach of the Cougars in 1994, Rayner Noble launched the Cougars to more NCAA Regional appearances than any other coach in the team's history. In addition to eight of such appearances, the Cougars have appeared in three NCAA Super Regionals. In 1995, the Cougars baseball team received a newly constructed Cougar Field that seated 5,000. The following year was the last for the Southwest Conference, and in 1997 the Cougars joined Conference USA. In 2004, the Cougars played San Diego State at Petco Park in front of 40,106, the largest college baseball crowd to date.[5]

The 2008 Houston Cougars baseball team lined up at Cougar Field

In 2006, pitcher Brad Lincoln won the Dick Howser Trophy. Lincoln was the first to receive this award in the program's history, and in Conference USA. He also received the Brooks Wallace Award that year among other honors.

In Conference USA, the Cougars appeared in every Conference USA baseball tournament, and held the second most number of tournament titles (behind Tulane).

No. 14 Bryan Pounds batting

Despite becoming the program's winningest coach, Noble's 2009 and 2010 records were back-to-back losing seasons, which Houston had not seen since 1974 and 1975.[6]

Whitting and modern era

In 2010, it was announced that Rayner Noble would not return as Houston's head coach.[7] Former assistant coach and player for Houston Todd Whitting was announced as his replacement. Whitting had served in various positions with TCU, ultimately serving as associate head coach before returning to his alma mater.[6]

Texas at Houston in 2013

In the 2013 season after rebuilding the team for two years, Whitting has led the Houston Cougar Baseball team to its best start in the last 24 seasons. In March 2013, for the first time in seven years, with Todd Whitting at the helm, Houston Cougar Baseball was ranked in the top twenty by Baseball America.

Houston's Cougar Field (now Schroeder Park) received substantial renovations at the end of the 2013 calendar year thanks to major donations from Alumni and former players. FieldTurf was installed to replace the natural grass and bullpens were upgraded giving the stadium a nice makeover.

In 2014 season, the Houston Cougars joined the American Athletic Conference for its inaugural season. Riding the momentum of the 2013 season, the Cougars continued their success into 2014 and won the AAC conference tournament to become the first American Athletic Conference Baseball Champions. The Cougars finished the 2014 regular season with an impressive 44–15 record and ranking as high as number 9 nationally. This was also the first season since 1993 the Cougars have swept baseball powerhouse Rice and claimed the Silver Glove Series.

Conference affiliations

Championships

Conference Regular Season championships

The Cougars have won 11 conference regular season championships in their history, 10 of which were outright championships. In 1947, 1949, and from 1961 to 1972, the Cougars were not eligible for a conference championship as they were not affiliated with any conference.

Year Conference Coach Overall record Conference Record
1950Gulf Coast ConferenceLovette Hill10–64–0
1951Missouri Valley Conference16–97–1
195211–66–1
195315–116–2
196012–116–1
1999Conference USARayner Noble40–2420–7
200048–1821–4
200248–1722–7
2015American Athletic ConferenceTodd Whitting43–2016–8
2017†42–2115–9
201838–2516–8

† co-champions

Conference Tournament Finals appearances

Houston has appeared in 21 conference tournament finals in their history, winning 8 of them.

Year Conference Coach TF Opponent TF Result Tournament MVP
1951Missouri Valley ConferenceLovette HillBradleyW 11–2
1952Saint LouisL 2–4
1953Oklahoma A&MW 3–2
1958CincinnatiL 1–3
1959BradleyL 0–6
1960CincinnatiW 5–2
1978Southwest ConferenceRolan WaltonBaylorL 3–11
1982TexasL 5–10
1990Bragg StocktonTexasL 4–6
1997Conference USARayner NobleCharlotteW 22–7Scottie Scott (Houston)
1999TulaneL 9–12Mickey McKee (Tulane)
2000CincinnatiW 7–4Jarrod Bitter (Houston)
2002East CarolinaL 0–4Darryl Lawhorn (East Carolina)
2006RiceL 5–11Joe Savery (Rice)
2008MarshallW 3–2Bryan Pounds (Houston)
2011Todd WhittingRiceL 3–410Tyler Duffey (Rice)
2014American Athletic ConferenceLouisvilleW 10–4Josh Vidales (Houston)
2015East CarolinaL 1–9Hunter Allen (East Carolina)
2016UConnL 2–7Anthony Kay (UConn)
2017East CarolinaW 6–0Jake Scheiner (Houston)
2022East CarolinaL 1–6Jacob Jenkins-Cowart (East Carolina)

Head coaches

Cougar Field, the home of the Houston Cougars
Tenure Coach Overall
Record
Conference
Record
Conference
Regular
Season
Titles
Conference
Tournament
Titles
NCAA
Tournament
Appearances
1947Ned Thompson1–5 (.167)
1948Dalton Albert4–7–1 (.375)2–6 (.250)
1949Bill Lutz7–9 (.438)
1950–1974Lovette Hill343–325–5 (.513)75–53 (.586)536
1975–1986Rolan Walton378–235–5 (.616)129–136–3 (.487)2
1987–1994Bragg Stockton283–183–4 (.606)68–106 (.391)2
1995–2010Rayner Noble526–388 (.575)245–160 (.605)338
2011–presentTodd Whitting382–287–1 (.571)134–131–1 (.506)324
Totals 1,906–1,451–16 (.567) 653–592–4 (.524) 11 8 22

Notes: Through 2022 season.

NCAA Division I Baseball Championship results

Year Record Result
19510–2 (.000)Eliminated in District 5 Playoffs
19532–3 (.400)Won District 5 Playoffs
College World Series (7th Place)
19580–1 (.000)Eliminated in District 6 Regional
19601–2 (.333)Eliminated in District 6 Regional
19661–2–1 (.375)Eliminated in District 6 Regional
19675–3 (.625)Won District 6 Regional
College World Series (Runner-up)
19821–2 (.333)Eliminated in West II Regional
19851–2 (.333)Eliminated in Central Regional
19873–2 (.600)Eliminated in Central Regional
19902–2 (.500)Eliminated in South I Regional
19970–2 (.000)Eliminated in South I Regional
19992–2 (.500)Eliminated in Houston Regional
20004–3 (.571)Won Houston Regional
Eliminated in Houston Super Regional
20010–2 (.000)Eliminated in Houston Regional
20024–2 (.667)Won Mesa Regional
Eliminated in Austin Super Regional
20035–3 (.625)Won College Station Regional
Eliminated in Houston Super Regional
20060–2 (.000)Eliminated in Norman Regional
20083–2 (.600)Eliminated in College Station Regional
20144–3 (.571)Won Baton Rouge Regional
Eliminated in Austin Super Regional
20151–2 (.333)Eliminated in Houston Regional
20172–2 (.500)Eliminated in Houston Regional
20182–2 (.500)Eliminated in Chapel Hill Regional
Total 43–48–1 (.473)

Rivalries

Each year Houston competes in the Silver Glove series against the Rice University Owls.

Individual Awards

National Player award winners

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