May 22, 2007
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Entering the 2007 season, the Tulane University baseball season had its sites set on making its 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA postseason.
While there have been a few bumps along the way, the goal is still an attainable one, and the Green Wave will take their first step toward announcing "mission accomplished" when they open play in the 2007 Conference USA Tournament against host East Carolina Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. (CDT).
Tulane finished the season 32-24 on the year and enter the C-USA Tourney as the No. 7 seed after posting a 9-15 league record. The Green Wave will likely have to win the C-USA Tournament and claim the league's automatic bid to the NCAAs if Tulane is to make that 10th straight NCAA Regional appearance.
"We're eight to 10 wins short of what we thought we'd be - especially after the start we had - but you have a tournament for a reason," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "We're not in any bigger a deficit than anybody else now, so we have another chance."
As a team, the Green Wave enter the C-USA Tournament hitting .286 with a .383 slugging percentage courtesy of 72 doubles, nine triples and 30 home runs. Senior first baseman Tim Guidry leads the Green Wave with a .324 batting average, while junior second baseman Brad Emaus and junior shortstop Cat Everett follow closely with respective averages of .320 and .310. Sophomore outfielder Aja Barto paces the team with five home runs, Guidry leads the squad with 36 RBI, while Everett and sophomore outfielder Anthony Scelfo have nine stolen bases apiece.
From the mound, the Green Wave have a 3.91 ERA and have held opponents to a .269 batting average. As a staff, Tulane hurlers have combined for 454 strikeouts and 147 walks in 493.0 innings. Sophomore Shooter Hunt paces the staff with a 2.44 ERA, junior Sean Morgan leads the team with 116 strikeouts, a .235 opponent batting average and 96.0 innings pitched, and senior Matt Goebel has a club-best eight wins. Senior Daniel Latham paces the bullpen with 28 appearances and has 10 of the Green Wave's 13 saves in 2007.
In its 12th year of existence, the Conference USA Tournament will be hosted by East Carolina University, which was supposed to hold the league tourney in 2008. Tulane's new Turchin Stadium was the original site of the tourney, but delays in construction caused the postponement of the stadium until next year and the Green Wave will host they C-USA championship in 2008.
Tulane is 6-15 against the 2007 tournament field, including a 5-4 record against teams in its bracket. The Green Wave took two of three games during the regular-season from second-seeded East Carolina and third-seeded Southern Miss, and dropped two of three to sixth-seeded UAB. In addition, the Green Wave are 0-3 against top-seeded Rice, 0-3 against fourth-seeded Houston, 1-2 against fifth-seeded Memphis and 0-3 against No. 8 seed UCF.
Tulane will send Hunt to the mound for its opening-round game where he will be matched up against Pirates' right-hander T.J. Hose. Hunt earned first-team All C-USA honors in 2007 after going 6-5 with 95 strikeouts and just 26 walks while holding opponents to a .238 batting average in 92.1 innings of work.
Hose, meanwhile, claimed second-team all-league honors this year after going 6-5 with a 3.61 ERA to go along with a team-best 65 strikeouts in a staff-leading 87.1 innings toeing the rubber.
The Pirates are the tournament's No. 2 seed after going 36-20 during the regular season, including a 14-9 mark in league play. East Carolina is hitting .288 as a club with a .452 slugging percentage on the strength of 94 doubles, 14 triples and 62 home runs. Dale Mollenhauer paces the team with a .329 batting average while Stephen Batts and Ryan Wood follow with identical marks of .314 each. Ryan Tousley and Eric Roller are tied for the team lead with 10 homers apiece, Tousley has a team-best 48 RBI, and Woods has 13 stolen bases in 16 tries.
From the mound, East Carolina sports a 3.83 ERA while holding opponents to a .258 batting average. The Pirates' pitching staff struck out 399 batters and walked 208 in 498.0 innings of work. Josh Dowdy leads the team with a 2.83 ERA while Hose paces the club with a .262 opponent batting average.
The 2007 C-USA Tournament is in double-elimination championship format and the Green Wave will share their side of the bracket along with East Carolina, third-seeded Southern Miss and sixth-seeded UAB. If Tulane wins game one of the C-USA Tournament, the Green Wave will play the winner of the Southern Miss/UAB matchup on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. A loss on Wednesday means Tulane will play an elimination game against the loser of the Golden Eagles/Blazers contest on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
All of the Green Wave's tournament games will be broadcast on the flagship radio station of Tulane baseball, WRHB 88.3 FM, and the contests can also be heard live on the website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live stats are available on-line for free via GameTracker. Sunday's championship game will be televised tape delayed on College Sports Television (DirecTV Channel 610, DISH Network Channel 152) and first pitch of the game is slated for 1 pm (CDT).