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TCL Notebook for June 28, 2006
Three-Week Wrap-up on TCL Baseball

The McKinney Marshals (14-3 through 17 contests) and Coppell Copperheads (13-4 start) have dominated the early going in Texas Collegiate League, and the numbers speak for themselves. Both squads had league-record eight-game winning skeins earlier in the year while they were 8-2 apiece from Games 9-17 near the midpoint of 2006 competition. Individual standouts have been many for both clubs, and Denton (10-6) was trying to put some space between its top spot in the Hornsby Division standings and the remainder of the three divisional foes.

McKinney's early leader at the dish is infielder Matt Cavagnaro (Penn State) with a league-best .468 average (minimum of 20 times at-bat), 29-for-62 hitting prowess, 13 RBI and one homer. Teammate IF Michael Richard (Prairie View A&M) of the Marshals chips in a .375 (12-for-32) while 1B Aaron Grivalja (.321) of Liberty has been a force at the plate and at first.

Coppell utilizes some classy pitching in addition to OF-IF Todd Sebek (.350) of Texas A&M, SS Jeremy Holzbach (.347) of Sam Houston State and 1B-P Tyler Hill (.312) of Wichita State. Copperheads' pitchers have one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios of any summer league nationally with 11.1 strikeouts every nine innings to 3.8 bases-on-balls every nine frames.

Hurlers who have dominated some of top opposing hitters in the first month of the year for Coppell include Randy Boone (Texas - 3-0 record, 0.00 ERA in 24 innings, 29 strikeouts, 3 walks), Joseph Krebs (Texas - 2-0 record, 0.41 ERA in 22 innings, 22 strikeouts, 4 BB) and Andrew Schneider (Temple College, 1-1 record, 1.18 ERA in 15 innings, 15 SO, 4 BB).

The league-leading Marshals have been almost as effective with more of a control mound staff. Relief ace Mike Gunter (North Central Texas - 2-0, 0.00 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, 5 appearances) and Wrandall Taylor (Prairie View A&M - 1-0, 0.80 ERA in 11 2/3 frames) combine with Michael Wild (Arkansas, 1-0, 2.05 ERA with 12 whiffs in 13 2/3 innings) and Allen Harrington (Lamar - 3-0 with league-best 35 strikeouts in 24 IP) for a consistent mix of starters and bullpen whizzes.

Denton's .272 batting average and nine team home runs (both topping the TCL) have led to the Outlaws' Hornsby Division advantage. Aljay Davis (.383) of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Jose Hernandez (.362) of Long Beach State and Evan Bigley (.333) of Dallas Baptist pace the Denton hitting parade. Pitchers Brice Ary (Baylor -2-0, 0.00 ERA in 12 innings) and Kyle Hollander (Oklahoma State, 0-0, 0.98 ERA in 9 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and a save) have provided excellent relief work for starters such as Kyle Gainley (Texas-Arlington, 2-0, 1.49 ERA after three starts).

While Denton lost one of its multi-year standouts in catcher Josh Banda (California Baptist) to a professional contract, several young hitters have risen to the forefront. Filling the gaps nicely for their respective teams are Graham's Jess Buenger (.364) of Texas A&M, three Euless standouts - Tyler Weber (.333) of Wichita State, Brandon Moss (.333) of Oklahoma and Logan Forsythe (.333) of Arkansas, Graham's Ryan Baker (.327) of Lamar, Mineral Wells' Kirkland Rivers (.327) of Texarkana College, and Graham's Mitch Abeita (.310) of Nebraska.

Other pitchers who have dominated are Mineral Wells' Wade Mackey (2-1, 0.53) of Baylor, Plano's Mark Doll (1-1, 0.98 ERA) of Birmingham-Southern, Weatherford's Brent Allar (1-0, 1.00 ERA) of TCU, Mineral Wells' Andrew Benedict (1-1, 1.00 ERA) of Texas-San Antonio, Weatherford's Matt Lovelady (0-0, 1.10 ERA) of Oklahoma, and Duncanville's Sean McLemore (0-2, 1.25) of Houston and Dan Hoben (0-0, 1.29 ERA) of Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) College.

Defensively, TCL teams (which had not practiced together for the most part prior to June 4 or June 5) have been enjoying one of their top campaigns in the league's three-year history. Plano catcher Trey Presswood (Blinn College) threw out eight of the first 12 runners attempting to steal bases on his watch while McKinney's Matt Stinson of Texas A&M had a streak of six consecutive "throwouts" at one juncture before an opponent stole on him in the early season.

TCL Alumni Making National Baseball Headlines

From the championship trophy presentation at the 2006 NCAA World Series to the international fields of Team USA, Texas Collegiate League alumni are featured in almost every diamond corner this summer.

Preston Clark of Coppell (Texas Longhorns' freshman catcher-third baseman) lashed a hit in his first Team USA activity of 2006 – a rain-shortened contest with Pittsfield, Mass., of the Eastern League on June 25.

Damon Sublett (2005 Coppell/Wichita State) is also in a dual-position role for coach Tim Corbin's (Vanderbilt mentor) Team USA group. The second team All-America 2B-RHP for Wichita State is expected to play a key role as relief pitching becomes a premium in later international competition.

Texas Tech catcher Matt Smith (2006 McKinney) was a Team USA Invitee in June tryouts but had to pass because of some recurring knee problems. Smith earned 2006 All-Big 12 Conference honors in two surveys after leading the Red Raiders with .377 batting average to complement seven homers and 46 RBI.

Some 1,600 miles away from Team USA headquarters in Cary, N.C., Jonah Nickerson (2004 Weatherford/Oregon State) made headlines with his team Monday night as the Beavers downed North Carolina 3-2 at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium for the school's first NCAA baseball championship.

Nickerson made the All-Tournament squad after a heroic performance of a tourney-record-tying three starts, a 2-0 record, the 16 1/3 innings on the hill without allowing an earned run, and clutch pitching three times when the Beavers were in an elimination situation.

In other TCL notes:

-There were 19 TCL alumni off Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State and Rice in the 2006 NCAA World Series. These players were on squads which combined for a 10-6 record and placements of third or higher. Oregon State finished 6-2 in winning the double elimination bracket play and best 2-of-3 championship round 2-1 over UNC. Cal State Fullerton and Rice tied for third in split bracket play with identical 2-2 records. The Owls were 2-0 before falling twice to the eventual champions.

-Five of the 16 2006 NCAA Super Regional teams had current or past Texas Collegiate League players on their rosters. The TCL total was 26 players in the Round of 16 toward the NCAA baseball championship. There were 98 players on 18 different schools competing in the '06 NCAA Regionals.

Kevin McCarty, Director of Operations for the Mineral Wells Steam, won second place in District VII in 2005-06 media guide competition for College Sports Information Directors of America. He also assisted on the Kansas State football guide, which won a first-ever No. 1 rating nationally by CoSIDA.

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