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THE 2006 SEASON APPROACHES: TCL NOTEBOOK

Postseason college tournaments were in full swing prior to NCAA Baseball Selection Monday, and here were some TCL alumni and 2006 active player highlights for the week:

-Rice, which at one time projected as many as 11 TCL players for '06, remains No. 1 nationally and played in the Conference USA finals. Pitcher Eddie Degerman already is a semifinalist for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, Brooks Wallace Award and '06 Roger Clemens Award.

-Texas, which has battled with Rice for national supremacy for most of the last four years, has a large contingent on TCL rosters and is paced by the likes of twins Jordon and Juston Street - members of the 2005 Denton Outlaws TCL title team.

-Baylor of the Big 12 has a number of standouts on '06 TCL squads and several alumni of 2005 teams from the Bears' NCAA World Series edition (school-all-time-best tie for third). Coach Steve Smith's Bears entered the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 34-22 overall mark and feature '05 TCL pitcher Kerr Foster, among others.

-Houston, ranked among the Top 25 for most of the year, brings in some of the top younger talent for 2006 TCL squads. Coach Rayner Noble's Cougars won 38 of their first 57 encounters and made it to the semifinals of the annual Conference USA tourney.

-Texas-Arlington and TCU, two very large contributors to the Texas Collegiate League talent pool for 2006, were added to the list of teams earning conference tournament titles and advancing to NCAA Regionals June 2-4. The Mavericks won the Southland Conference tourney after topping
Northwestern State 8-2 in Beaumont, Texas. TCU celebrated its first year in the Mountain West Conference by topping Brigham Young 9-6 on May 27 at Las Vegas, Nev., to advance to the NCAA tournament.

-Other schools which have a solid presence in the TCL with probable NCAA berths include Nebraska and Kansas, which meet for the first time Sunday in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship at Oklahoma City. The Huskers won previous postseason titles in 1999-00-01-05 while Kansas went from 0-2 all-time in the Big 12 joust to 3-0 and pool play victor in '06 under Coach Ritch Price.

-Two universities with up to 18 current players on TCL rosters for 2006 - Rice and Houston - vied Sunday for the Conference USA crown. It was the sixth meeting of the Owls and Cougars, who both became members of CUSA prior to the 2005-06 academic year. Rice was a Western Athletic Conference purveyor from 1996-2005.

-Several other schools with strong TCL ties on the way to the baseball "dance" include Stetson of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Notre Dame of the Big East, Cal State Fullerton of the Big West, Princeton of the Ivy League, Evansville of the Missouri Valley Conference, Jacksonville State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and Troy of the Sun Belt. Western Athletic Conference powers
Fresno State and Hawaii have been in the mix for TCL selections while Pepperdine and San Francisco of the West Coast Conference were locking horns in their NCAA-certifying finals. Colonial Conference "showdown" members Virginia Commonwealth and UNC Wilmington also have TCL possibilities.

-There are as many as 35 schools in the BoydsWorld.com national Top 100 Pseudo-RPI listings with two or more TCL members on either 2005 or '06 rosters. Notables are No. 1 Rice, No. 3 Texas, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, No. 9 Florida State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 14 N.C. State, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 21 Houston, No. 26 Tulane, No. 29 South Carolina, No. 31 Baylor, No. 33 Kansas, No. 34 Mississippi State, No. 35 Vanderbilt, No. 36 LSU, No. 38 South Alabama, No. 41 Stanford, No. 45 Notre Dame, No. 46 Wichita State, and No. 51 Oral Roberts, among others.

-Last year (including 10-day contract players) over 200 players from 80-plus colleges and universities competed in the Texas Collegiate League. That number will grow in '06 with the addition of Duncanville and the minimum 25-man rosters for the coming campaign. As many as least 225 standouts could grace the final player worksheets of the nine present TCL squads.



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