UHV pitcher thankful to play another season

Oct. 20, 2010 at 5:20 a.m.

UHV pitcher Casey Newman received a medical redshirt and will return for his fourth season with the University of Houston-Victoria baseball team.

UHV pitcher Casey Newman received a medical redshirt and will return for his fourth season with the University of Houston-Victoria baseball team.

Casey Newman did a double take when he saw all the vehicles in the Riverside Stadium parking lot.

"Looking in the parking lot it looks like there's a game going on or something," Newman said Wednesday during practice. "The past three years we only had four cars out here maybe. It's like a funeral coming to a baseball field."

Newman was ready to bid farewell to his University of Houston-Victoria baseball career after last season.

But it has been given new life thanks to a medical redshirt he received from the NAIA for his freshman season at Galveston College.

Newman pitched only two innings at Galveston College as a result of a bout with mononucleosis.

He got the good news two weeks before the fall semester began.

"I always had that thought in my head what if you can't play anymore in college," Newman said. "I was going the whole summer looking for an independent team to play on. I just wanted to give it a shot and put my name out there. I was ready to start working and start my life."

College baseball will be a part of Newman's life for another season, which comes as good news to UHV coach Terry Puhl.

The Jaguars could have as many as 15 freshmen on this year's team and Puhl is happy to have a veteran presence like Newman on the team.

"Casey did a lot of great things over the last three years here so we're very pleased to have him back," Puhl said. "It was kind of a surprise."

Newman has learned anything can happen in baseball. He began his high school career at Bloomington before playing his last two seasons at Faith Academy.

Newman earned a scholarship to Galveston College, but jumped at the chance to return home and be part of the inaugural team at UHV.

Newman has filled a number of roles for the Jaguars. He's been a starting pitcher, a reliever, pinch hit, pinch run and he even played right field last season when the team was racked by injuries.

Newman's most productive season was his first when he made six starts, had one complete game and compiled a 4-1 record with a 4.95 ERA and pitched 40 innings with 30 strikeouts.

"Casey can do different things for us," Puhl said. "He showed last year he could even come out and play the outfield and did a pretty good job.

"Casey's arm was giving him a lot of trouble so we'll go slowly with him at the beginning just so he can build his arm strength back up."

Newman had his arm examined, but no structural damage was found. The soreness was attributed to the stress of pitching for so many years.

As a result, Newman elected not to play baseball over the summer.

"That was the first summer I took off in four years," he said. "I didn't touch a baseball for four months."

Newman made six starts last season, but was used primarily in relief and recorded four saves. He could fulfill both roles again this season.

"It's going to mean a lot to us because he knows our system and what to expect," said UHV pitching coach Doug Heinold, who has worked with Newman since he was in high school. "Since we have so many freshmen and new guys to kind of show them the ropes and what to expect from me and what to expect from Terry and hopefully it's going to help these guys."

Newman believes this year's team could be the Jaguars' best.

He's hoping to get a chance to play in the World Series before graduating from UHV with a major in communications and a minor in criminal justice.

"I just want to help out the team a lot more than I have the last two years," Newman said. "My freshman year was my best year so far and hopefully I can make this year a good way to get out of baseball."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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