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TCL NOTEBOOK - THROUGH JULY 20

TCL Notebook

New Schedule for TCL Wooden Bat Classic July 29 at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth

Duncanville-Plano at 5 p.m. (CDT) Saturday, July 29, now is the leadoff game for the inaugural Texas Collegiate League Summer Wood Bat Classic. Tris Speaker Division heated rivals Coppell and McKinney will play in the nightcap after a concert by popular Texas musical artist Katy Keenie (www.katykeenie.com).

Tickets can be purchased for $8 by calling the Fort Worth Cats office at 817-226-CATS (2287). Tickets are good for both games and the concert. Information and directions to LaGrave Field can be found on the Fort Worth Cats website at www.fwcats.com. The stadium is at the same site where the Texas League Fort Worth Cats dominated minor league activity for over four decades and where the likes of Duke Snider, Maury Wills, Wayne Terwilliger, and dozens of future Major Leaguers plied their diamond wares.

The Brookshire’s-McCormick’s TCL All-Star Game will re-air on Monday, July 24, from 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. (CDT) on FSN Southwest. It follows that week’s replay of TCL Baseball Magazine on FSN from July 22. Please check other FSN local listings for possible replays throughout the nation.

TCL alumni and “almost” 2006 team participants have been performing extremely well for Team USA in the 2006 national tour. The Tim Corbin (Vanderbilt)-coached United States squad rolled to a 13-0 start with seven victories over Chinese Taipei and two over Germany and has a strong Texas Collegiate League presence.

2005 TCL All-Star Jake Arietta (McKinney) of TCU jumped out to a 2-0 beginning with 11 strikeouts and 12 innings pitched in two starts. Arietta started a pair of Team USA victories and sports a 0.00 ERA and has walked six hitters.

C-3B Preston Clark (slated for Coppell, Texas alumnus) started seven of the first 13 contests and batted .292 with a triple, home run and five RBI. He also was 1-for-1 in the stolen base department against outstanding international competition.

Projected 2006 TCL standouts C Matt Smith (McKinney) of Texas Tech and 2B-P Damon Sublett (Coppell) of Wichita State have been injured for all or parts of the 2006 college season and into the summer months. They were listed on earlier Team USA rosters but were unable to participate.

Postseason honors are nothing new to a league which featured 15 of its current or former players among three of the eight teams in the 2006 NCAA World Series, 26 in NCAA Super Regionals (including 12 Rice and seven Oklahoma stalwarts), and 95 in NCAA Regional activity.

In other TCL notes:

Kenton Gedwed (Euless) of Baylor has 14-game hitting streak – believed to the longest skein in the three-year history of the TCL. TCL statisticians continue to comb the records to find longer such marks. Gedwed, who is from Texas football-baseball powerhouse Southlake Carroll, was redshirted for coach Steve Smith’s 2006 BU Bears and is gaining key timing back in TCL action.

Thomas Samuel, who publicized 13 Oklahoma State standouts in the TCL from 2004-06, is the media relations director for Team USA in 2006. Samuel left OSU prior to the 2005-06 academic year to accept a post as assistant media relations director at Vanderbilt.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported this week that head coach Skip Johnson of Coppell has accepted a position as assistant coach at Texas under the legendary Augie Garrido. Reporter Rick Herrin broke the news after former UT assistant Tom Holliday left earlier this summer for the assistant head coach’s position at N.C. State. Johnson played on the last North Texas varsity baseball edition in 1989 before transferring to Texas-Pan American and graduating in 1990. He has won over 400 games and nine conference titles as head coach of Navarro College in Corsicana since 1994. Johnson joins fellow TCL head coach Rob Penders of Euless on the 2007 Longhorns’ baseball staff.

2005 TCL All-Star Game cast members Clint Arnold (Weatherford) of Arkansas and Ben Burum (Mineral Wells) of Texas-Arlington have been enjoying solid 2006 campaigns. Arnold returned to Weatherford and promptly went 3-for-8 (.375) with a pair of runs in his first two contests while Burum joins Evan Bigley (Denton) of Dallas Baptist as the ’06 current TCL individual home runs’ leader with six.

Just how much are the Texas Collegiate League pitchers dominating the hitters in 2006?

Not as much as one might think…

In 48 games last year, Josh Banda (since signed professionally in June 2006) of Denton and California Baptist batted .400 to lead the league. This year at the 35-game mark, Matt Cavagnaro (McKinney) of Penn State is hitting a sizzling .376 with back-to-back Brookshire’s-McCormick’s All-Star credits.

Andrew Brown (Denton) of Nebraska clubbed 13 home runs (one more than Ben Burum of Mineral Wells and UTA) to top the 2005 individual list and to earn TCL Player of the Year laurels. Burum joins Evan Bigley (Denton) of Dallas Baptist with six homers apiece and just 14 or 15 games remaining on the slate.
Similar to the majors, TCL overall homer production has been down a bit because of some very tough “pitchers” parks. New franchise Duncanville has 12 total dingers at all sites while playing 16 of its first 35 contests at spacious Panther Field. Plano moved from Scotland Yard at Highland Park to pitcher-friendly Jack Graham Field on the Prestonwood Church campus. Only two home runs have been hit by the Plano Blue Sox and 20 opposing teams through games of July 19.

On the other hand, runs-batted-in production is very similar individually to the ’05 campaign. Burum plated 38 runs – three more than Adam Moore (Coppell/Nebraska) at 35 – last summer. Denton OF Jose Hernandez (Long Beach State) has found a way to manufacture RBI with a league-best 27 while Burum and Trevor Head (Denton/Dallas Baptist) both posses 26 RBI.

There is no lack of speed on the basepaths in the circuit this season after Kyle Jones (Denton/Texas State) swiped 36 to lead all 2005 runners. Todd Sebek (Mineral Wells/Texas A&M) stole 31 bases to finish as runner-up. In ’06 Michael Richard of McKinney (Prairie View A&M) paces the ladder with 23 while Plano’s Skyler Stromsmoe (Southern Arkansas) has 20 base thefts.

Jarod Freeman (Graham) of Oklahoma is on track to eclipse last year’s doubles co-leaders Robbie Winn (Weatherford) of Texas-Arlington and Banda with 14 each. Freeman has stroked 11 two-base hits while OU teammate and Euless 1B-C Brandon Moss has nine doubles in 28 games. Both missed the early part of the ’06 TCL season after extending their playing time in the NCAA Super Regionals at Rice, which has 11 standouts in ’06 TCL activity.

Speaking of the Owls, the school has supplied the league instant punch with 2006 Freshman All-America standout Aaron Luna. The Southlake Carroll HS standout is pushing toward league batting leadership with a .353 average, six doubles and nine RBI in 15 games. He’s the second-best batting average holder with 50-plus at-bats behind McKinney’s Cavagnaro.

As Luna creeps toward Top Five status in half the amount of contests as some of his contemporaries, Cavagnaro already has established a 48-game-season (no asterisks, Commissioner Ford Frick) individual mark with five triples. Last year Graham’s Keanon Simon (Oklahoma State) paced all comers with three triples.

Even hits’ leaders are on par with 2005 final tallies. Cavagnaro, ranked among the first five in four different offensive categories, owns 47 safeties. Denton’s Kyle Jones (Texas State) paced all batsmen in ’05 with 60 while Graham’s Simon belted 49 hits. Aljay Davis (Denton) of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Oklahoma in 2007 has 42 hits this year for runner-up slot ahead of Weatherford’s Winn with 38.

Pitching, though, is the cream of TCL talent in ’06.

Randall Taylor of McKinney (Dallas Baptist) already has nine saves to top Rice’s All-Conference USA pitcher Bryce Cox (McKinney) with eight saves in 19 relief appearances for the Marshals in 2005.

Randy Boone (Coppell/Texas), Ty’Relle Harris (McKinney/Pacific) and Allen Harrington (McKinney/Lamar) all are within one victory (five) of James (son of MLB standout Jeff) Russell of Coppell and Navarro College with six 2005 wins to lead the league.

Last summer eight pitchers ended the campaign with 50-plus strikeouts and a TCL-high 69 by Austin Creps of McKinney (Texas A&M). Already in ’06 with as much as 27 percent of regular-season games remaining, five hurlers have at least 47 whiffs. Their ranking includes Jess Todd (60) of Coppell/Navarro, McKinney’s Harrington (57), Duncanville’s Seth Garrison (54) of Navarro, Weatherford’s Donald Furrow (49) of TCU, and Duncanville’s Kyle Landis (47) of Pittsburgh.


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