Tulane pitcher / infielder Micah Owings recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Owings is one of the top players in Conference USA and will be a junior in New Orleans. After earning All-ACC honors for two seasons at Georgia Tech, the native of Georgia transfered to Tulane and was recently named a Second Team All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
The Green Wave has opened the 2005 season with seven straight wins, including a sweep of PAC 10 power Arizona State. On the season thus far, Owings is hitting .261 at the plate with nine runs scored, a couple of doubles, a triple, and a pair of homeruns. On the mound, the junior has started twice, picking up one win and a no-decision. Owings has compiled a 2.40 ERA and has allowed just one walk while striking out five.
MICAH OWINGS, TULANE UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: Coming out of high school in Gainesville, Georgia, you were selected in the 2nd round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. How tempting was it to turn pro right out of high school, and what factors ultimately led you to attend college?
Owings: "It was real tempting to take the offer from the Colorado Rockies and move forward in my professional career. My whole life, it has been a dream of mine to play pro baseball, and throughout high school I was planning on not attending college to pursue that dream. There were many things that pushed me towards college as the summer went on. God had a different plan for me, and following His path was the ultimate factor that led me to college."
SCS.com: Once you decided to go to school, you chose to attend Georgia Tech. At that time, what other colleges did you consider, and what led you to Atlanta to become a Yellow Jacket?
Owings: "Out of high school, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to choose between many different great programs. Schools throughout the country were interested, but I decided at the time that I wanted to stay close to home. My top three choices were UGA, Alabama, and Georgia Tech. Many things led me to choose Georgia Tech. I already mentioned I wanted to be close to home. Georgia Tech has been well known for a long time for academic excellence and having a great baseball program. My father played football for the Jackets in the early 70's, so I grew up a huge Tech fan. Not to mention before I ever arrived on campus, I had already played with half of the team with East Cobb."
SCS.com: You had tremendous success at Georgia Tech. In two seasons on campus in Atlanta, you hit .313 and drove in 106 runs. As a pitcher, you compiled an 18-6 record and had a 3.93 ERA. In just over 200 innings pitched, you totaled 170 strikeouts. What was the key to your early success at GT in a conference as tough as the ACC?
Owings: "I think many things assisted in the success that I had during my career at Tech and in the ACC. The opportunity that was given to me early was a major factor that allowed me to display the talents that God has given me to succeed in a sport I have always loved! From then out, I had to rely on my talent, preparation, health, and hard work."
SCS.com: You earned numerous honors during the first two years of your college career. You were named First Team All-ACC both seasons, were chosen as the ACC's 2003 Freshman of the Year, and also earned All-America awards. How honored were you to be recognized as one of the best players not only in the ACC but also in the entire country?
Owings: "(I was) very appreciative of those achievements and the individuals that were involved in the decision making process. When you work so hard for so long on something, it is nice in the end to be recognized for the accomplishments established."
SCS.com: Following your sophomore season at GT, you decided to transfer and chose Tulane. Why did you decide to leave Georgia Tech, and in the future, how will you remember your two seasons in school there?
Owings: "I decided to leave for personal reasons and needed a change in scenery. I loved my time at Tech and the relationships that I developed while a part of the university. (I) will carry memories with me about my two years spent there forever and will always be a Yellow Jacket fan!"
SCS.com: You had another chance to bolt for the Major Leagues last summer. The Chicago Cubs took you in the 19th round of last spring's Draft. Talk about the timeline of the events of last summer. When did you decide to leave Georgia Tech, attend Tulane, and turn down the MLB Draft? Would you say you considered pro baseball more in 2002 or in 2004?
Owings: "No, like I mentioned before, my dream has always been to play pro baseball. Again, it was not God's time for me to move in to that profession. Last summer, after playing in the Cape for three weeks, I came home to rest my knee. My final decision to leave Tech did not take place until late in the summer."
SCS.com: Once you knew you were going to leave Atlanta, what other schools did you consider, and what made Tulane feel like the right choice to you?
Owings: "After getting my release from GT, I took a few trips around the country all in one weekend to ASU, Texas, TCU, and Tulane. (I) chose Tulane ultimately because of a gut feeling and the offer that was proposed to me, the opportunity to get a quality education, the opportunity to play for a great ball club with renowned coaches and players, and the opportunity to play in front of the best college baseball fans around!"
SCS.com: Though you have yet to play a game for the Green Wave, the honors are already pouring in. You were named a Second Team All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. What does this national exposure mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Owings: "It is a great honor to be considered one of the top in the country, and the exposure for all of us is amazing."
SCS.com: The expectations for Tulane baseball are at an all-time high. The team has been ranked anywhere from first to fifth in the national preseason polls. Baseball America has the Wave projected as the best team in America. CUSA's coaches have picked the Wave as the preseason favorite to win the conference title in 2005. How much pressure do these high expectations put on you and the team, and what goals have been set for the upcoming season?
Owings: "We are fortunate to be able to play the game we love and look forward to the season ahead. At the same time, we realize it is a long road ahead to get to where we all want to go. There will be pressures here and there, but that's baseball. We cannot lose track of what we do, and (we must) stay focused at doing it. Our main goal is to be the one team standing at the end!"
SCS.com: You are listed as a pitcher and an infielder on the Tulane roster. Where do you feel you will spend most of your time this season, and do you feel your success as a pitcher helps you be a better hitter or is it the other way around?
Owings: "(I am) still not exactly sure where I am going to fit in, but we are working on it. This is a team with a lot of talent, and a lot of guys are challenging each other for spots all over the field. I like to look at each position separately and focus on each one individually."
SCS.com: You have NCAA Tournament experience as a Yellow Jacket. The team made two postseason trips while you were on campus, advancing to the Super Regionals once. Compare the intensity and excitement of postseason ball to that of the regular season.
Owings: "I think the atmospheres in postseason play make the biggest difference. Everyone knows you must win to advance, and that makes the games even more intense. The challenges were raised to a whole different bar."
SCS.com: You had the chance to play at several of the best ballparks in the nation while at Georgia Tech. While in Atlanta, the team made trips to places like Cal State-Fullerton, Auburn, Georgia, Florida State, and Miami. This year's schedule at Tulane has trips planned to Pepperdine, LSU, and more. Of the places you have visited while playing college baseball, which two or three stand out the most, and which trip on this year's schedule are you most looking forward to?
Owings: "You cannot get any better than the two ballparks that I had and will have the opportunity to play in at Tech and now Tulane. The other one that sticks in mind is Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park at Auburn. Maybe because it was my first career start in front of an intense sellout crowd."
SCS.com: A Georgia Tech-record ten players were taken in last spring's MLB Draft. Have you had a chance to talk with any of your former teammates who are currently playing professionally, and if so, what advice have they given you regarding your current college career and possible future in pro baseball?
Owings: "I keep in touch with many of them year-round and will continue to. Almost all of them have told me to 'just go do your thing and enjoy it.' Most that I have talked to love playing pro ball but miss the relationships developed while playing in college together."
SCS.com: Tulane head coach Rick Jones is entering his 11th season in New Orleans. Eight of his ten seasons have resulted in NCAA berths, and the team has made a school-record six straight trips to the NCAA Regionals. The highlight of his career thus far has been the Green Wave's trip to the College World Series in 2001. How much influence did Coach Jones have on your decision to attend Tulane, and what do you feel makes him such a great coach?
Owings: "Coach Jones is definitely one of the reasons I came to Tulane. He is great at what he does, from recruiting off the field to coaching on the field. The thing about Coach Jones is that he truly cares about his guys and is in it for them. He is a guy that players can trust in what he says and from what I've seen, guys love laying it on the line when they step on the field to play. Coach King, Coach Sutter, and Coach Boggs compliment what Coach Jones believes in and are all a part of why I chose to be a Green Wave. (I have) had a lot of fun with them so far, and the real fun is about to begin!"
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Owings: "I have had many memories throughout my career, but my very favorite is probably when my dad and I used to toss in the yard for hours. That is where it all started, and the rest fell into place."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Owings: "No one in particular that is playing right now. I guess if I had to choose, it would be Chris Carpenter, my high school pitching coach. He pitched in the big leagues for many years, and I have gotten to know him on a personal and professional basis."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Owings: "Spending time with my family and friends. Also going camping, out on the lake, to various concerts and sporting events, and attending church and devotions."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give them?
Owings: "If you get the opportunity, take advantage of it. Work hard day in and day out to be the very best that you can be and nothing less. Play the best that you can, and realize that baseball is one of the toughest games mentally and physically. Last, remember who gave you the ability to play this game that many of us so passionately love!"
SCS.com would again like to thank Tulane's Micah Owings for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Green Wave the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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