Fall-ball Underway For Green Wave Baseball

October 19, 2002

Jeremy Hall, <i>Hullabaloo</i> Assistant Sports Editor

As most baseball fans lie at home watching the Major League season dwindle down to its final weeks, they hear the familiar whack of wooden bats replaced by the ring of metal ones. College baseball players across the country will take the field for fall practices this month, and within those ranks are the men of Tulane. After a summer to reflect on last seasons highs and lows, the Green Wave takes the field with a new year and a new set of expectations before them.

As this year's squad returns to the diamond at Turchin Stadium, three of last year's standout performers will be missing from two important infield positions. Third baseman James Jurries and pitchers Beau Richardson and Nick Bourgeois were selected in last summer's Major League draft, leaving some holes to be filled in the Tulane line-up.

In Jurries' four years at Tulane he shifted often between the infield and outfield while producing big numbers at the plate, helping lead the Wave to four consecutive regional championships. The Atlanta Braves selected him after he earned the titles of 2002 C-USA Player of the Year, a second- team TPX/Louisville All-American and a third-team Verizon Academic All-American and hit .400 for the year with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

The Philadelphia Phillies will be welcoming Richardson, who transferred to Tulane in 2001 and compiled a 15-6 record with 127 strikeouts and a 4.84 ERA for his Division I-A career. Richardson came on strong toward last seasons end and helped propel the Wave into the regionals. He made his greatest contribution to the team during the postseason.

Facing elimination in the 2001 C-USA Tournament, Richardson tossed 10 of 13 innings in a game Tulane eventually won and also pitched a complete- game win in game three of the New Orleans Super Regional against LSU two years ago, striking out a season-high nine batters. Bourgeois, who was only a junior last season, will join Richardson on the Phillies.

Last season he earned first-team All-Conference USA honors in 2002 and finished the year as the Green Wave leader in ERA (3.27), wins (10), innings pitched (115.2), strikeouts (114) and opponent batting average (.229). Despite the loss of those three talents and one other player from last years squad, the team boasts a wealth of talent for this season.

Juniors Michael Aubrey and Anthony Giarratano, former freshmen All-Americans, along with seniors Jon Kaplan, Aaron Feldman and junior Joey Charron, 2002 All-Conference USA honorees, should pick up right where they left off in 2001. Aubrey spent his summer productively, playing his second year on the US National Team. Productively is really an understatement, as he became the first player in Team USA history to hit over .400 with wooden bats, leading the team in five offensive categories with a .405 batting average, 45 hits, six home runs, 26 RBI and 25 runs scored.

For his huge contribution in leading the team in triple-crown categories and helping the team to a second-place finish, Aubrey was named the USA Baseball Athlete of the Year. Head Coach Rick Jones was quick to promote Aubreys standout performance.

"This is a tremendous honor for Michael, and I'm proud of him not only for his accomplishments on the field but also for the person he is," Jones said. "He's the consummate student-athlete, and this is another well-deserved accolade."

Aubrey, though, was humble in his response to the honor and attention given to him. "It's a nice honor, but it's not something you think about when you're playing," Aubrey said. "This summer I just went out there, played hard and had fun. I just got comfortable, and as I got into my comfort zone, my confidence level rose. I was able to carry it over day to day, and that made it easier."

Two transfers from the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida will join the Wave this season. Pitcher Cory Hahn, who was Kentucky's ace last season, will bolster the rotation, while outfielder Wes Swackhamer should add a big bat to the line-up, after an impressive freshman campaign at Florida. Along with the help of the transfers comes a freshman recruiting class ranked No. 3 in the nation by

Pitchers J.R. Crowel, Matt Goebel, Brandon Gomes, Tyler Kimmons and Billy Mohl, along with catcher Chris Sepanski and outfielder Brian Bogusevic should soon find their way onto the field this year. The Green Wave will be holding fall practice and intra-squad games at Turchin Field from Oct. 19 to Nov. 3. Head Coach Rick Jones will evaluate this year's talented group in the preseason outings. The team could potentially make another run for the postseason and, just maybe, a trip to College World Series as they head into the spring.

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