Tigers No. 17 in Baseball Pre-Season Top 40 Poll


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TUCSON, Ariz. - Defending national champion Rice University and the University of Miami (Fla.) are deadlocked at the top of "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper's Fabulous 40 pre-season NCAA Division I baseball poll.


Never in the history of the "Collegiate Baseball" poll, which dates back to 1959, have two teams been tied in the pre-season poll for the top spot in the nation.


Rice (58-12 last season) returns what many consider to be one of the best pitching staffs in the history of college baseball with three first team Louisville Slugger pre-season All-Americans in RHP Jeff Niemann (17-0, 1.70 ERA, 156 K, 35 BB), RHP Wade Townsend (11-2, 2.20 ERA, 164 K, 46 BB) and RHP Philip Humber (11-3, 3.30 ERA, 138 K, 39 BB). All three are expected to be first round draft picks in next June's Free Agent Draft.


"There is no question our pitching staff should be strong," said Rice Head Coach Wayne Graham, "Collegiate Baseball's" National Coach of The Year in 2003. "This pitching staff is extremely sophisticated in what they bring to the table. Niemann, Townsend and Humber are generating a lot of interest. But let me tell you that Josh Baker is pretty good also. He would be the top pitcher on many college baseball staffs."


Miami finished fifth in the nation at the College World Series and rolled to a 45-17-1 overall record last season. The Hurricanes return every starting position player from a year ago in addition to every starting pitcher and every key member of the bullpen.


Headliners include Louisville Slugger pre-season All-American SS Ryan Braun (.364, 17 HR, 16 2B, 76 RBI, 13 SB), All-American LHP J.D. Cockroft (11-3, 2.72 ERA, 94 K, 35 BB) and former All-American closer RHP George Huguet (7 SV, 2.36 ERA), plus a host of quality, quality ball players.


As far as pitching, Miami returns three superb starters in Cockroft, LHP Brandon Camardese (9-2, 5.01 ERA), RHP Vince Bongiovanni (8-4, 4.00 ERA) and quality relief specialists in RHP Huguet and RHP Shawn Valdes-Fauli (5 SV, 5-0, 3.02 ERA).


On offense, the team has a nice blend of power (70 HRs last season) and gap power (134 doubles) along with speed (122 stolen bases). As far as defense, Miami was second in the nation in double plays (72 in 63 games).


"In my entire coaching career (which goes back to 1975 as an assistant coach at Appalachian St.) I have never had an entire group of position player starters and pitchers back like this," said Morris, entering his 11th year with the Hurricanes.


"It is very unusual. We had a very young ball club last year with only a few being draft eligible. When you consider all these ball players coming back coupled with a pretty good recruiting class that we brought in (15th in the nation), we should have a fine ball club this season."


The "Collegiate Baseball" Newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1957 college baseball season.


Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's

NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll

(As of Dec. 19, 2003)

Rank School ('03 Final Record)	Points	Final '03 Rank
1. Rice (58-12)				495		1
   Miami, Fla. (45-17-1)		495		5
3. Louisiana St. (45-22-1)		491		7
4. Georgia Tech. (44-18)		489		14
5. Texas (50-20)			486		4
6. Stanford (51-18)			484		2
7. Arizona St. (54-14)			481		10
8. Cal. St. Fullerton (50-16)		477		3
9. Wichita St. (49-27)			475		NR
10. Notre Dame (45-18)			470		28

11. Baylor (45-23)			468		13
12. Long Beach St. (41-20)		464		11
13. Tulane (44-19)			462		NR
14. South Carolina (45-22)		458		6
15. Florida (37-21-1)			457		NR
16. Southern California (28-28) 	456		NR
17. Clemson (39-22)			450		NR
18. Auburn (42-21)			449		20
19. Florida Atlantic (47-16)		446		23
20. Nebraska (47-18)			445		15

21. North Carolina (42-23)		443		19
22. Arizona (35-23)			441		NR
23. Washington (42-18)			438		27
24. Florida St. (54-13-1)		437		9
25. Minnesota (40-22)			432		NR
26. Nevada-Las Vegas (47-17)		430		26
27. Mississippi (35-27)			424		NR
28. Winthrop (35-22)			416		NR
29. North Carolina St. (45-18)  	411		12
30. Mississippi St. (42-20-1)		408		24

31. Ohio St. (44-21)			406		18
32. Texas A&M (45-19)			403		17
33. Oklahoma St. (34-24)		398		NR
34. U.C. Riverside (41-17)		395		30
35. Alabama (28-24)			392		NR
36. Va. Commonwealth (46-13)		390		NR
37. Southern Miss. (47-16)		386		25
38. Tennessee (31-24)			380		NR
39. San Diego (32-30)			378		NR
40. Stetson (41-24)			375		NR


Tiger Baseball Ranked #17 in Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll

Third-baseman Brad McCann tabbed with Third-Team All-America status.


Clemson, SC - The 2004 Clemson baseball team is ranked #17 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll, released Friday. It is the 15th straight season the Tigers have made Collegiate Baseball's top-25 preseason poll. Clemson, led by 11th-year Head Coach Jack Leggett, is coming of a 39-22 season in 2003. The Tigers, who return 19 letterwinners and all six of their starting pitchers from a season ago, have made 17 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including last year's appearance in the Auburn (AL) Regional.


Rice and Miami (FL) are tied for the top spot in the poll, while Louisiana State, Georgia Tech, and Texas round out the top five. ACC teams North Carolina (#21) and Florida State (#24) also made the top 25.


Junior third baseman Brad McCann was also named a Preseason Third-Team All-American by the same publication. The Duluth, GA native is the returning team leader in homers (9), RBIs (67), and batting average (.347) from last year. Clemson opens its season February 24 against Charlotte at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

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