May 5, 2003
#18 Baylor Baseball (34-17, 14-10 Big 12) vs. Centenary (20-29)
Tuesday, May 6 (6 p.m.) Baylor Ballpark * Waco, Texas
This Week in Baylor Baseball
Baylor faces Centenary for the first time since 1997 on Tuesday, when the Gents come to Waco for a single game. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark.
The Bears begin the week on a six-game winning streak, their second-longest of the season. Since dropping the final two games of the series against Missouri, Baylor has gone 7-1. While the offense has continued to steamroll, solid pitching has been the difference in the Bears' turnaround.
During the first 12 games of April, during which time Baylor went 5-7, the Bears hit .340 and scored 10 runs a game, but gave up an equal number of runs (122) with an ERA of 8.40. Since then, Baylor has won seven of eight games, hitting .371 was a team and scoring 10.6 runs a game but compiling a staff ERA of just 2.48.
Centenary comes to Waco having lost 11 of its last 12 games, including three-game sweeps at the hands of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sacramento State.
After Tuesday's game, the Bears have the weekend off for final exams before hosting Southwest Texas May 13 in their final home game of the 2003 regular season.
All Baylor baseball games are carried in Central Texas on KRZI 1660/1580 AM. Live stats are also available for all home games and most road games at www.BaylorBears.com, the official website of Baylor Athletics and a member of the Official College Sports Network.
Baylor Quick Hits
* Baylor's .329 team batting average ranks 13th nationally, through games of April 27. The Bears also rank 17th in the country in runs per game (8.3).
* Three Bears rank among the nation's top hitters, through games of April 27. David Murphy's .427 average ranked 20th in the nation, while Chris Durbin began the week tied for 22nd nationally in home runs per game (15/46, 0.33). Michael Griffin ranked 26th in triples per game (6/47, 0.13) and was tied for 30th in RBI per game (58/47, 1.23).
* Since April 22, Baylor has won seven of eight games, hitting .371 was a team and scoring 10.6 runs a game while compiling a staff ERA of just 2.48.
* Senior outfielder Chris Durbin scored four runs Sunday vs. Kansas State to tie the school record for runs in a season (77), set by Eric Nelson in 1999.
* Junior outfielder David Murphy needs just five hits to tie the school record for hits in a season (102), set by Eric Nelson in 1999.
* Junior outfielder David Murphy has hit safely in 19 straight games, a career high for the junior outfielder and the Bears' best since Kelly Shoppach's 28-game streak in 2001. Murphy's 19-game tear is fifth-best in recent school history. Murphy has hit safely in 47 of the Bears' 51 games this season and has reached base in every game but one.
* Baylor has averaged 3,106 fans per game, the best average-game attendance in program history. The March 28 game against Texas A&M drew 4,717 fans, the fifth-best crowd in Baylor Ballpark history.
* Baylor student-athletes begin the week ranking first or second in the Big 12 in 11 statistical categories. Bears lead the league in average and hits (David Murphy), runs and total bases (Chris Durbin), doubles (Michael Griffin), strikeouts and starts (Steven White), and opposing batting average (Abe Woody). Additionally, Bears rank second in the league in home runs and walks (Durbin), total bases (Murphy) and RBI (Griffin).
* In conference games only, Bears rank first or second in seven categories. Baylor student-athletes lead the Big 12 in hits and on-base percentage (David Murphy), strikeouts and starts (Steven White). Bears rank second in batting and walks (Murphy), doubles and triples (Michael Griffin), runs and home runs (Chris Durbin) and wins (Sean Walker).
* Senior Jared Theodorakos, a weekend starter for the Bears early this season, is out for the year after undergoing surgery on his left (throwing) arm April 9 to correct a SLAP lesion (torn labrum). He will apply for a medical redshirt and is expected to return next season.
Last Time Out
* SATURDAY: #20 Baylor 11, Kansas 1 (7 innings) (Game 1/2)
Baylor batted around in the first inning, scoring eight times, and rode that lead to an 11-1, seven-inning win Saturday afternoon over Kansas State in the first game of a doubleheader. With the lead, Baylor starter Steven White cruised, striking out nine batters and picking up the seven-inning complete game. Five Bears finished the day with two hits apiece. Michael Griffin drove in three runs on his two hits, and Paul Witt drove in two with a double and a triple. White moved into third place in career strikeouts with 291.
* SATURDAY: #20 Baylor 10, Kansas 1 (Game 2/2)
Baylor finished out a doubleheader sweep of Kansas State with a 10-1 in the nightcap. Sean Walker picked up where Steven White left off in the first game, pitching into the ninth and allowing just one run. Walker struck out a career-best seven batters in eight-plus innings. Zach Dillon drove in three runs, and David Murphy scored three times.
* SUNDAY: #20 Baylor 12, Kansas 2 (8 innings)
Baylor run-ruled Kansas State for the second time in two days, finishing out a series sweep with a 12-2, eight-inning win Sunday. Mark McCormick earned his first conference win, striking out five in five innings and allowing just two hits and two runs (one earned). Ryan LaMotta pitched the final three shutout innings for his first collegiate save. Trey Webb led the Baylor attack, going 4-for-4 with a walk and scoring three times. David Murphy drove in four runs with a double and a triple. Chris Durbin scored three runs, tying the school record for runs in a season (77), set by Eric Nelson in 1999.
Baylor in the Rankings
On the strength of a six-game winning streak, Baylor moved up slightly in the national polls.
Baylor moved up two spots to No. 18 in the USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches' Poll, climbed two places to No. 21 in Baseball America's poll, held tight at No. 24 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (NCBWA) poll, and jumped three spots to No. 25 in Collegiate Baseball's poll.
Baylor's best-ever final ranking is No. 6 (Collegiate Baseball, 1978), while the team's highest ranking at any time was No. 3 (Baseball America, May 8, 2000). The Bears have ranked as high as No. 6 twice this season (March 3, Baseball America, and March 24, USA Today Sports Weekly/Coaches).
Bears' RPI Sky-High
Baylor ranks fifth in the nation in the Iterative Strength Rankings from BoydsWorld.com, through games of April 27. The ISRs are an alternate ranking formula similar to the RPI system. The Bears trail only Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Stanford and Texas, and rank ahead of Big 12 foes Texas A&M (8th) and Nebraska (10th). Other Baylor opponents among the top 25 include Long Beach State (7th), Southern California (13th), Arizona (15th) and Texas-Arlington (21st).
BoydsWorld.com also offers a Pseudo-RPI, which attempts to duplicate the official RPI formula used by the NCAA in its tournament seeding. Baylor ranks 11th through games of April 27. Baylor opponents in the top 25 include Rice (4th), Texas (12th), Nebraska (14th), Texas A&M (17th), Long Beach State (20th) and Houston (23rd).
The Bears' schedule is ranked as the second-toughest in the nation; only USC is said to be playing a harder schedule this year.
Durbin Named to Golden Spikes Watch List
Baylor centerfielder Chris Durbin was included among 25 players named to the initial watch list for the 2003 Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the nation's top amateur baseball player.
Durbin, a senior from Wylie, Texas, was one of five Big 12 players named to the list. Five finalists will be announced in June, with the winner being revealed in July.
Past winners of the award, given out by USA Baseball, include current Major League Baseball stars Robin Ventura, Jason Varitek, Mark Kotsay, Phil Nevin, Pat Burrell, Mark Prior and Baylor's own Jason Jennings, the 1999 National Player of the Year.
For more information on the award, including a complete listing of the 2003 watch list, please visit www.USAbaseball.com.
Bears Among Big 12 Season Stat Leaders...
A number of Bears rank among the Big 12 individual statistical leaders, through games of May 5. As a team, the Bears lead the league in average (.331), slugging (.516), runs (426), hits (633), doubles (132) and RBI (400). The Baylor pitching staff ranks fifth in ERA at 4.58 but easily leads the conference in strikeouts with 404.
Noteable among the hitters: David Murphy leads the league in batting (.427) by an amazing 19 points, and also tops the conference in hits (97). Chris Durbin, Murphy and Michael Griffin rank 1-2-3 in the Big 12 in total bases. Durbin also leads the Big 12 in runs (77) and is second in the league in home runs (16) and walks (34). Griffin leads the league in doubles (22) and is second in RBI (61). Durbin and Murphy each rank among the league leaders in nine different categories.
The complete list:
Ross Bennett: 5th in batting (.392)
Zane Carlson: t-6th in saves (6), t-9th in appearances (21)
Chris Durbin: 1st in runs (77), 1st in total bases (143), 2nd in home runs (16), 2nd in walks (34), 3rd in slugging (.688), t-4th in doubles (19), 6th in on-base pct. (.473), 7th in hits (74), 18th in batting (.356)
Josh Ford: 4th in RBI (53), 5th in home runs (11), t-9th in runs (47), 9th in total bases (116), t-10th in doubles (14)
Michael Griffin: 1st in doubles (22), 2nd in RBI (61), 2nd in hits (82), 3rd in total bases (137), t-4th in triples (6), 15th in batting (.364)
Ryan LaMotta: 4th in appearances (24), 5th in opposing avg. (.250), 9th in ERA (4.01), t-10th in wins (6)
David Murphy: 1st in batting (.427), 1st in hits (97), 2nd in total bases (141), 3rd in runs (65), 3rd in on-base percentage (.488), t-6th in RBI (50), t-8th in triples (3), 8th in slugging (.621), t-10th in doubles (14)
Sean Walker: t-3rd in wins (7), t-7th in complete games (1), 20th in ERA (4.93)
Trey Webb: 6th in doubles (17)
Steven White: 1st in strikeouts (101), t-1st in starts (14), 3rd in innings pitched (91.1), 6th in opposing batting average (.252), t-7th in complete games (1), t-10th in wins (6), 12th in ERA (4.14)
Abe Woody: 1st in opposing batting average (.199), 5th in ERA (3.81), t-10th in wins (6)
... And Among Big 12 Conference Stat Leaders
In league games only, Baylor leads the Big 12in hitting (.333), runs (204), hits (293), doubles (64), and RBI (192). For league games only, the following Bears rank among the Big 12 leaders:
Chris Durbin: 2nd in runs (34), t-2nd in home runs (7), t-3rd in doubles (10), 4th in walks (14), 4th in total bases (66), t-6th in hits (35), 8th in on-base percentage (.471), 9th in slugging (.673), 15th in batting (.357)
Michael Griffin: 2nd in doubles (11), t-2nd in triples (3), t-4th in RBI (29), t-4th in hits (36), 9th in total bases (56), 25th in batting (.346)
Ryan LaMotta: t-5th in appearances (11)
David Murphy: 1st in hits (45), 1st in on-base percentage (.517), 2nd in batting (.446), t-2nd in walks (15), 3rd in runs (33), 3rd in total bases (67), t-6th in triples (2), 10th in slugging (.663)
Mark Saccomanno: 4th in slugging (.724), 7th in batting (.390), t-7th in home runs (6), t-9th in doubles (7), t-10th in total bases (55)
Sean Walker: t-2nd in wins (5), t-4th in complete games (1), 9th in innings (46.0), 14th in ERA (4.30)
Trey Webb: 5th in doubles (9)
Steven White: t-1st in starts (8), 1st in strikeouts (61), t-4th in wins (4), t-4th in complete games (1), 5th in innings (49.2), 7th in opposing batting average (.251), 19th in ERA (4.89)
Abe Woody: 5th in opposing batting average (.231)
Several Bears are seriously assaulting Baylor single season records. Most impressively, David Murphy's .427 average would rank as the highest in modern history. Chris Durbin tied the season runs record May 4 against Kansas State.
While complete updated recordbooks are found later in these notes, below are listed some of the most endangered records (existing records in italics):
Average: .427, David Murphy [modern record: .417, Steve Macko, 1977]
Hits: 97, David Murphy [102, Eric Nelson, 1999]
Runs: 77, Chris Durbin [77, Eric Nelson, 1999]
Doubles: 22, Michael Griffin (t-9th) [25, Chris Durbin, 2001/2002]
Home Runs: 16, Chris Durbin (t-8th) [21, Charley Carter, 1998]
Extra-Base Hits: 36, Chris Durbin (t-9th) [47, Charley Carter, 1998]
Total Bases: 143, Chris Durbin [190, Charley Carter, 1998]
White Moving Up the Charts
Senior starter Steven White took over the top spot in the Baylor recordbooks for career starts April 11, when he started and defeated Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The game was White's 51st career start, passing Josh Scott's total of 50 set from 1998-2001.
White also ranks among the Baylor career leaders in:
Games Started: 54 1st Wins: 25 4th (needs 1 to t-3rd, 2 to t-2nd, 3 to t-1st) Innings Pitched: 330.2 2nd (needs 7.0 to t-1st) Strikeouts: 291 3rd (needs 1 to t-2nd)
Durbin's Bat Rewriting Recordbook
Senior Chris Durbin continues to make his mark on the Baylor recordbook. Durbin has moved into first place in the career listings for doubles and extra-base hits this season, and ranks among the top 10 in virtually every offensive statistic.
Against Texas on April 4, Durbin recorded his 65th career double to set a new school record; he has added 10 more since then for a total of 75. That total also is a new Big 12 Conference record, surpassing Jeff Ontiveros' 66 doubles for Texas (1999-02).
With his first of two doubles April 26, Durbin broke a tie with Jon Topolski to set a new career extra-base record.
Durbin's career numbers:
Average: .347 3rd (needs 21 points to t-2nd) Games Played: 213 t-8th (needs 2 to t-7th) At-Bats: 816 5th (needs 9 to t-4th) Hits: 283 4th (needs 35 to t-3rd) Runs: 219 3rd (needs 9 to t-2nd) Doubles: 75 1st Home Runs: 39 t-3rd (needs 4 to t-2nd) RBI: 162 7th (needs 3 to t-6th) Extra-Base Hits: 121 1st Total Bases: 489 3rd (needs 34 to t-2nd) Walks: 105 NR (needs 4 to t-10th) Slugging Pct: .599 3rd (needs 14 points to t-2nd, 16 points to t-1st)
Closer Carlson Claims Another Saves Record
Junior closer Zane Carlson laid claim to yet another saves record April 27, when he recorded his 29th career save. That total broke the old Big 12 Conference career saves record of 28, set by Oklahoma's Jeff Bajenaru (1999-2000).
Carlson also holds the Baylor career and single-season saves records; he laid claim to both records after saving 15 games as a freshman in 2000. On top of that, Carlson also holds the Cape Cod League career saves record with 24. The NCAA record is 49, set by Southern California's Jack Krawczyk (1995-98).
Carlson ranks among the Baylor career leaders in:
Games Pitched: 79 t-5th (needs 1 to t-4th, 4 to t-3rd) Games Relieved: 78 2nd (needs 1 to t-1st) Saves: 29 1st
Bears Gunning for Conference Records
A number of Big 12 single-season and career records are in danger of falling to Bears this season. Already this year, Zane Carlson set a new Big 12 record for career saves, while Chris Durbin set a new standard for career doubles. A complete list follows (existing records in italics):
Season Runs: 77, Chris Durbin [97, Keith Ginter, TT, 1998]
Career Runs: 219, Chris Durbin [222, Matt Hopper, NU, 2000-present]
Season Hits: 97, David Murphy [112, Tim Moss, 2002]
Career Hits: 283, Chris Durbin [313, Matt Hopper, NU, 2000-present]
Season Doubles: 22, Michael Griffin [32, Jeff Guiel, OSU, 1997]
Career Doubles: 75, Chris Durbin [66, Jeff Ontiveros, UT, 1999-02]
Career Total Bases: 489, Chris Durbin [548, Matt Hopper, NU, 2000-present]
Career Saves: 29, Zane Carlson [28, Jeff Bajenaru, OU, 1999-00]
Career Appearances: 79, Zane Carlson [85, Kyle Edens, BU, 1999-02]
Career Starts: 54, Steven White [59, Shane Komine, NU, 1999-02]
(Hopper's numbers through games of April 29)
Best in History? Part One
By year's end, the 2003 seasons put together by Chris Durbin and David Murphy will likely rank among the best offensive performances in school history. The thought is backed up by a statistic quickly becoming a favorite among sabermaticians, OPS.
OPS is simply on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, and the statistic is considered to be perhaps the best "easy" measure of a player's overall offensive ability.
Charley Carter, 1998 1.232 Steve Macko, 1977 1.190 Chris Durbin, 2003 1.161 Jason Jennings, 1999 1.158 Marty Crawford, 1996 1.153 Jon Topolski, 1998 1.147 Mike Malinak, 1986 1.135 Kelly Shoppach, 2001 1.117 Jon Topolski, 1999 1.116 David Murphy, 2003 1.109 Eric Nelson, 1999 1.079 Gene de los Santos, 1980 1.077
Best in History? Part Two
One could make a strong argument that Baylor is featuring its most dynamic offense in school history this season. Projected out to a season of 60 games, the Bears would finish with one of the top showings in school history in batting average (1st), hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), runs (3rd), RBI (3rd), home runs (3rd), extra-base hits (3rd), total bases (3rd) and slugging percentage (3rd).
Considering that scoring across the country has declined since the late 1990s (when the Bears set most school team records for offense), the 2003 season may showcase the best-hitting Baylor team ever.
Power Surge for Saccomanno
Fifth-year senior Mark Saccomanno has taken to his starting role at first base, stepping into the role of a power hitter with gusto.
After beginning the season with just three home runs in 118 career games, Saccomanno has hit seven home runs in 28 starts this season, tied for third on the team.
Saccomanno, who started 59 games at shortstop for the Bears in 2001, hit three home runs in one weekend against Texas (April 4-6), including his first career two-homer game April 4 in Austin. His slugging percentage of .630 ranks second on the team, while his .386 average ranks third.
No Knock On Woody
Redshirt freshman Abe Woody has been nothing short of sensational out of the Bears' bullpen this season. The righty from Round Rock, Texas, has struggled in two starts, but has been dominant in relief.
As a reliever, Woody is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA over 18 appearances. In 45.0 innings, he has struck out 30 while allowing less than one baserunner per inning (27 hits, 12 walks).
Through games of May 5, Woody leads the league in opposing batting average (.199) while ranking among the most-used relievers in the league (49.0 innings in 19 appearances). With numbers like those, Woody has teamed with fellow freshman Ryan LaMotta and Big 12 career saves leader Zane Carlson to provide the Bears with confidence going to the pen late in games.
Having passed the halfpoint in the season, several publications and websites have begun to predict what schools will go where come NCAA Regional time.
Baseball America predicted April 11 that the Bears would be a No. 2 seed in Baton Rouge. No. 1 seed LSU would play host to Baylor, No. 3 Tulane and No. 4 Southern.
In their April 29 prediction, the folks at SEBaseball.com sent Baylor to the Houston Regional as a No. 2 seed. Rice is projected to be the No. 1 seed and host, welcoming No. 3 Lamar and No. 4 Central Connecticut State.
BoydsWorld.com offered only a guess at the 64-team field on April 15, not actual regionals, but did include Baylor among seven Big 12 teams picked to advance (Baylor, Texas, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas Tech).
Bears Best in the Big 12
Baylor has the best conference record of any team in the Big 12 Conference since the league's start in 1997. At 123-69 (.641), the Bears are ahead of Texas Tech (119-75-1, .613). Included in the first six seasons for Baylor are one Big 12 championship (2000) and a pair of runner-up finishes (1998, 1999).
On top of that, Baylor is the only Big 12 Conference school to have ranked in the top 10 nationally during each of the past six seasons (1998-2003).
Baylor also leads all conference schools in Big 12 history in both first team All-Big 12 selections (18) and in first team Academic All-Big 12 selections (30).
Thrice is Nice for Players of the Week
Baylor has received three Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season. Centerfielder Chris Durbin and first baseman Ross Bennett earned back-to-back Big 12 Conference Player of the Week awards during the first month of the season, and Durbin was honored again in late April
Durbin was named the Big 12 Player of the Week (Feb. 17-23) after hitting .588, slugging 1.176 and reaching base at a .650 clip as the Bears went 4-0 on the week, including a weekend sweep of No. 7 Southern California. Durbin scored eight times in four games and drove in five runs, including knocking home the winning run in three of the four games. The award marked the first time Durbin was named Big 12 Player of the Week. The senior centerfielder was also named CollegeBaseballInsider.com's West Region Player of the Week.
The very next week, Bennett duplicated Durbin's honor. The senior from Cape Girardeau, Mo., was named Big 12 Player of the Week for games played Feb. 24-March 2 for his feats against UT-San Antonio and UC-Irvine. For the week, Bennett hit .786 (11-for-14) with five RBI and five runs scored. The honor was the first of Bennett's career.
Two months later, Durbin received his second player of the week award. The senior hit.524 and slugged .857 for the week as Baylor pounded TCU 22-4, then took two of three from Kansas on the weekend. Durbin got the Bears' offense rolling in all four games, reaching base safely to start every game last week. He hit four doubles, homered, drove in four runs and scored eight times out of the leadoff spot in the order.
Ford Named to Bench Award Watch List
Baylor catcher Josh Ford was listed among 32 players named to the watch list for the 2003 Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher.
Ford, a sophomore from Baytown, Texas, was one of just six sophomores named to the list. Ten semifinalists will be selected from those on the watch list and announced on May 20; a national panel will then select three finalists, who will be announced June 2 prior to the College World Series. The winner will be announced at the 6th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet in Wichita, Kan.
The award, sponsored by Coleman and named after Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, was first given to LSU's Brad Cresse in 2000. Baylor all-American Kelly Shoppach earned the award in 2001 after hitting .397 and making just one error all season behind the plate. Alabama's Jeremy Brown won the honor in 2002.
Six Bears Named All-Tournament in Houston
Six Bears were named to the 2003 Minute Maid Park College Classic All-Tournament Team, led by Most Outstanding Player Michael Griffin. The sophomore left fielder hit .517 in three games with a double, a triple, a home run, four runs scored and 4 RBI. Griffin became the third Bear in three years to be named tournament MVP at the Astros' classic, following Kelly Shoppach (2001) and Tim Hartshorn (2002).
Smith Reaches Another Milestone
Baylor head coach Steve Smith has recorded his 300th career win, his 325th career win and his 500th game at the helm of the Bears this season. Smith earned his 300th career win Feb. 9 at Arizona, an 11-9, 11-inning victory. One month later, the Bears' game against Texas Tech March 14 marked Smith's 500th game as head coach of the Bears, and Smith recorded win No. 325 against Missouri April 18. Now in his ninth season at the helm of the Bears, Smith holds a career-record of 332-197-1, all at Baylor.
Smith leads all Baylor coaches in career winning percentage (.627), and he trails only Baylor legend Mickey Sullivan among Bears' head coaches in total wins. Sullivan, whom Smith replaced in 1995, compiled a 649-428 record while helming the Bears from 1974-1994.
Griffin's Six Hits Set Record
Sophomore Michael Griffin went 6-for-6 Feb. 9 at Arizona, setting a new school record for hits in a game. Griffin broke the previous record of five hits, which had been accomplished 18 times, including once last season by teammate Trey Webb.
Griffin knocked out five singles and a home run in the Bears' 11-9, 11-inning win over the Wildcats and tied his career-high with six RBI.
Baylor Ballpark No. 3 Stadium in the Nation
Baylor Ballpark was named the No. 3 collegiate baseball park in the country in a nationwide survey of college coaches released by Baseball America in January.
In voting by the nation's coaches, Baylor Ballpark placed third, just behind Auburn's Plainsman Park and Arkansas' Baum Stadium. Nebraska's Haymarket Park and LSU's Alex Box Stadium rounded out the top five.
College media relations contacts were also asked to vote on their favorite stadiums. Baylor Ballpark finished fourth in that survey, behind Auburn, Mississippi State's Dudy Noble Field and Arkansas.
The survey asked coaches and media relations contacts to rank their top 10 parks based on aesthetics, facilities (dugout, locker rooms, extra cages/bullpens, etc.), fan amenities, playing conditions and tradition.
Bear Fans Rushing Through Turnstiles
Baylor baseball is drawing fans in record numbers this season. Through 26 home dates, the Bears have drawn a total of 80,762 fans, an record average of 3,106 per game.
Average attendance at Baylor Ballpark has increased each season since the park's opening in 1999. Last season, the Bears drew 2,882 fans per game, ranking 15th in the nation in average attendance. Baylor has ranked among the top 25 in both average and total attendance each year since moving into Baylor Ballpark.
Bears' Schedule Toughest in Nation
Baylor's 2003 schedule is the toughest in the nation, according to a statistical measure produced at the start of the season at BoydsWorld.com and based on teams' 2002 records.
Nine of the Bears' 2002 opponents qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago: Houston, Long Beach State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rice, Southern California, Texas and Texas Tech. Of those, Nebraska, Rice and Texas each advanced to the College World Series last year, with the Longhorns coming away as national champions.
Webb Snares Top Honor
Baseball America named junior shortstop Trey Webb the top defender among this year's draft-eligible collegiate players.
The publication noted that "While he's relatively small at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, SS Trey Webb is the hands-down choice as the top college defender at a premium position. He has soft hands, good range and enough arm strength to be a legitimate shortstop in pro ball."
Baylor Alums in the Pros
19 former Bears completed the 2002 season at some level of professional ball. Leading the way are former first-round picks Jason Jennings and Kip Wells, who are leading members of the rotations for the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.
In 2002, Jennings won National League Rookie of the Year honors after going 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA (see above note). Wells, meanwhile, was honored as the Houston-Area Major League Pitcher of the Year.
NOTES: Jennings started Opening Day 2003 for the Rockies in Houston against the Astros, his first opening day start... Jeremy Dodson was let go by the Royals but is now in the Cardinals' system... Matt Williams began the season at Low-A Peoria but was moved up to High-A Palm Beach after just two games... Paul Thorp and Kelly Shoppach are each in extended spring training rehabbing injuries... Wells hit the longest home run by a Pirate in PNC Park history April 25 against the Dodgers, a 457-foot shot to dead center.
For a complete list of Baylor alums in the pros, see the sidebar on page nine of these notes.
Baylor's Jennings 2002 NL Rookie of the Year
Baylor alum and current Colorado pitcher Jason Jennings was named the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year, as voted on by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America
The 24-year-old Jennings went 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA and became the first Colorado player to win the award. He got 27 first place votes and five seconds for 150 points in voting by the BBWAA.
The award came as no surprise to Baylor fans, who saw Jennings named consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year after compiling a 13-2 record, 2.58 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 146.2 innings as a junior in 1999. Jennings also served as the Bears' DH, hitting .386 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI that season. Following his outstanding year, Jennings was drafted in the first round (16th overall pick) by the Rockies.
A three-year starter, Jennings holds Baylor records for wins in a season (13), innings pitched in a season (146.2) and strikeouts in a season (172) and in a career (377). He is second in career wins (27) and career saves (13), third in career home runs (39) and fourth in career batting average (.344).
Baylor Developing Pro Prospects
Baseball America/Perfect Game recently recognized Baylor as one of the top programs in the nation at producing top professional prospects. In BA/PG's preseason list of the Top 100 Professional Prospects for in College Baseball for the 2003 and 2004 drafts, Baylor was one of only six schools in the nation to have three or more prospects listed among the Top 100 in both 2003 and 2004. (The others: Arizona State, Rice, Stanford, Texas and Southern California).
Seven members of the 2003 Baylor squad have turned down opportunities to enter the world of pro ball in order to join up with the Bears:
Team Year Round Team Trey Taylor 2001 2nd Colorado Rockies Mark McCormick 2002 11th Baltimore Orioles Steven White 2002 18th Milwaukee Brewers Ross Bennett 1998 42nd Montreal Expos Jared Theodorakos 2002 49th Colorado Rockies David Murphy 2000 50th Anaheim Angels Kyle Reynolds 2002 50th Arizona Diamondbacks
Baylor and USA Baseball
Last fall, USA Baseball named Baylor the 26th-best program in the nation at providing players for the USA National Team.
Five Bears have played a total of six seasons wearing the Red, White and Blue: Pat Combs (1988), Jason Jennings (1997-98), Bryan Loeb (1998), Jon Topolski (1998) and Zane Carlson (2000).
Stanford, Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Southern California and Florida State were recognized as the top five programs based on their contributions to USA Baseball from 1984-2002.
It's In Their Blood
As might be expected, a number of this year's Bears have sports -- baseball or otherwise -- in their blood. Notable examples:
Freshman infielder Kyle Reynolds' father Craig played fifteen seasons in the major leagues (1975-1989), including 11 with the Houston Astros. Craig was selected for the 1978 and 1979 All-Star Games.
Redshirt sophomore Reid Brees' brother Drew became a household name among college football fans when he finished third in the 2000 Heisman voting while at Purdue. Drew is now the starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.
Freshman Russell Reichenbach's uncle, Mickey Reichenbach, was named the 1975 College World Series MVP while a sophomore at Texas. A four-year lettermen for the Longhorns, Mickey hit .455 with three doubles and a home run to earn MVP honors.
Head Coach Steve Smith
Head coach Steve Smith is in his ninth season as head coach at Baylor in 2003; in that time, he has compiled a 332-197-1 record. Smith led the Bears to their first-ever 50 win season in 1999 and a Big 12 Championship in 2000, and has piloted the team to five straight NCAA appearances. Through the 2002 season, Smith ranked 39th among active coaches in winning percentage with a .623 mark.
The 2000 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Smith came to Baylor from Mississippi State, where he was an assistant under Ron Polk for five seasons. Prior to that, he served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M.
A former standout pitcher at Baylor in 1982-1983, Smith led the Southwest Conference with a 1.72 ERA as a junior, bettering league foes and future major leaguers Norm Charlton, Roger Clemens, Doug Drabek and Calvin Schiraldi.
An accomplished pitching coach, Smith has tutored six pitchers in the last 11 years who were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He has also had at least one pitcher named to the all-conference first team in each of the last 11 years.
In Smith's eight full seasons as head coach, the Bears have produced three first-round draft picks, nine all-Americans, five Academic All-Americans, one National Player of the Year, one GTE/CoSIDA Academic all-American of the Year, 22 first-team all-conference performers, seven freshman all-Americans, and three conference players of the year. Baylor has also placed 30 players on the Academic All-Big 12 first team in the past six seasons, a number that leads the Big 12.
Baylor on the Air
Catch every inning of Baylor baseball in 2003 on the flagship station for Baylor athletics, News/Talk Radio KRZI 1660/1580-AM.
Tom Barfield and Lark Smith begin their first season together as the primary play-by-play and color men for Baylor baseball. Barfield, the operations manager for KRZI/KRZX and KLRK-FM in Waco, is best known as co-host of the afternoon "You Make the Call" call-in show. Barfield saw his first action calling Baylor baseball last season, when he and Smith called the Bears' sweep of Southern California at Dodger Stadium.
Smith, whose attachment to Baylor baseball dates back to the days of coach Dutch Schroeder, was Sports Director for the Baylor campus radio station in the late 1970s and served as play-by-play voice for the Bears' 1977 and 1978 College World Series teams. After nearly two decades in broadcasting, Smith now works for the Heart O'Texas Federal Credit Union in Waco.
All Baylor Baseball games in 2003 will be available on the internet at www.BaylorBears.com. BU baseball is also a staple of the daily "Baylor SportsBeat" hosted by Morris and airing weekdays at 7:25am and 5:25pm on KRZI 1660/1580-AM.
Baylor's official athletic web site can be found at www.BaylorBears.com. The comprehensive site, which includes releases, photos, biographical sketches and audio broadcasts, is part of the Official College Sports Network. OCSN currently hosts sites for more than 100 universities, including eight Big 12 schools.
Live scoring updates are available on BaylorBears.com for all Baylor baseball home games and most road games.
Inside Baylor Sports
"Inside Baylor Sports", a half-hour look at the world of Baylor athletics, airs weekly throughout Central Texas and the region. The program, co-hosted by John Morris and Lori Scott-Fogleman, airs on KCEN-TV Channel 6, Fox Sports Net Southwest and the College Channel (Waco cable channel 18). KCEN carries the show at 10:30 p.m. Sundays, and it airs at 1 p.m. Wednesdays on FSN Southwest.