Coming off last year’s injury plagued season, Baylor has been picked fifth in the Big 12 preseason softball coaches poll.

National runner-up and defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma was picked first, followed by Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas.

Baylor is coming off an 18-31 season and a last-place Big 12 finish, but is looking for considerable improvement with all-Big 12 pitcher Gia Rodoni and outfielder Kacy Walker returning from injuries.

Baylor opens the season at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. facing Auburn, Louisville, Missouri and Missouri State on Feb. 7-9.

BU women’s tennis headed to USTA Classic

The Baylor women’s tennis team will tune up for team play in the spring season by traveling to play in the USTA National Collegiate Tennis Classic starting Friday in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The fall-style tournament will features Baylor, USC, Wake Forest and Virginia playing in singles and doubles draws.

Following the competition, Baylor opens the season at home versus Georgia State on Jan. 17 at the Hurd Tennis Center. The Baylor women’s tennis team will tune up for team play in the spring season by traveling to play in the USTA National Collegiate Tennis Classic starting Friday in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

FCA luncheon to honor Johnny Tusa

Outgoing Waco ISD athletic director Johnny Tusa will be the featured guest at the Heart of Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Community Luncheon on Jan. 22, from noon to 1 p.m. at Meadowbrook Baptist Church.

The church is located at 1207 N. Old Robinson Road, near University High School.

Tusa announced in November that he was planning to retire, effective Jan. 6. He served WISD for 38 years as both a football coach and AD.

The luncheon cost is $10 per person, with food provided by Rudy’s. To reserve a spot, visit heartoftexasfca.org/communitylunch.

Famed golf course designer Dye dies at 94Pete Dye never thought golf was meant to be fair, inspiring him to build courses that were visually intimidating. The island green at the TPC Sawgrass. More bunkers than could be counted at Whistling Straits.

Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning at age 94. His company, Dye Design, posted the news on its Twitter account. Dye had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.

His golf courses have held four major championships, most recently at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which will host the Ryder Cup this year. He also had several courses on the PGA Tour, mostly notably the TPC Sawgrass, where the Stadium Course has held The Players Championship since 1982.

Many of the courses were designed with his wife, Alice, who died last February at 91. She famously suggested to her husband as they were clearing out a swamp at Sawgrass, “Why not just make an island green?”

Cavs coach Beilein says he apologized for ‘thugs’ comment

DETROIT — John Beilein’s first season as an NBA coach took another turbulent turn because of a comment he made during a film session.

Beilein said Thursday he had apologized after using the word “thugs” while reviewing film with his players the previous day. ESPN.com, citing unidentified sources, reported that Beilein suggested during a Wednesday film session his players were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein told ESPN he had meant to say “slugs” in reference to the team’s effort level.

Beilein repeated that explanation Thursday after his team’s shootaround in Detroit, hours before the Cavaliers faced the Pistons.

“I was saying: ‘We’re making a lot of mistakes mentally, and we deserve better because we’re really playing hard right now. We’re not playing like slugs. We’re playing hard,’” Beilein said. “And somehow that word came out.”

Rangers agree to minor league deals with Garcia, Jones

ARLINGTON — Right-hander Luís Garcia and former major league outfielder-turned-pitcher James Jones have agreed to minor league contracts with the Texas Rangers that include invitations to major league spring training.

Garcia, who appeared in 64 games last year for the Los Angeles Angels after six seasons with Philadelphia before that, will have a $1.1 million salary if he is in the majors.

The Rangers also released right-hander Reed Garrett from his minor league contract, allowing him to sign with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League, and they assigned right-hander Jimmy Herget outright to Triple-A Nashville.

Garcia was 2-1 with one save and a 4.35 ERA in his only season for the Angels. He was 12-14 with five saves in 251 games for the Phillies from 2013-18.

Jones played 136 games as an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in 2014-15, but spent the past four seasons in the Rangers farm system and has been strictly a pitcher since 2017. The left-hander was 2-1 with two saves and a 2.67 ERA in 45 minor league appearances last season with Nashville and Double-A Frisco, where he was a Texas League All-Star.

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