Pepperdine’s tradition of turning out high-quality professional athletes continued this year with the emergence of San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Noah Lowry and Los Angeles Sparks player Nicole Funn.
Lowry, who was drafted 30th overall in the 2001 amateur draft, currently has a 3-0 record with an ERA of 3.54 for the second-place Giants. He was named the NL Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 2 through Aug. 9.
Lowry’s career at Pepperdine was highlighted by being named an All-American in 2001 after going 14-2 with a 1.71 ERA. Also in 2001, he was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Pepperdine head baseball coach Steve Rodriguez said Lowry’s legacy inspires his players to work hard to achieve the same level of success.
Rodriguez also said that Lowry’s future looks bright.
“(Giants Manager) Felipe Alou has spoken very highly of him, saying that they expect to win every time Noah’s pitching,” Rodriguez said.
Funn was acquired as a free agent by the Sparks after she compiled some impressive stats as a senior at Pepperdine last season. She averaged 10.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Funn, a 6-foot guard from Carson, Calif., was Pepperdine’s best utility player. Last season, she was named a member of the All-West Coast Conference First Team. She is the second Pepperdine player to make it to the WNBA, following Rasheeda Clark who was drafted by the Portland Fire in 2001.
Lowry isn’t the only former Waves pitcher to play well in the majors. Randy Wolf, a 1997 Pepperdine alumni, was an all-star for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2002. Currently, Wolf is 5-8 with a 4.17 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 22 starts for the Phillies this season.
Dan Haren, a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, has compiled a 5-9 record in 21 games with the Cardinals. He is playing for the Cardinals triple-A affiliate in Memphis.
Also in the Cardinals organization is Kevin Estrada, a star infielder for the Waves throughout his career. He is playing third base in Palm Beach, Fla., for the single-A Palm Beach Cardinals and has a .256 batting average.
David Newham is spending time at third base for the Baltimore Orioles and has hit .353 in this, his first season in the majors. Former Wave Danny Garcia has played 43 games at second base for the New York Mets.
Last week, Lowry and Garcia went head-to-head for the first time in their pro careers after being roommates at Pepperdine in 2001. Garcia went 0-3 against Lowry with one strikeout.
Recent Pepperdine alum Chris Kelly is playing for the single-A Great Falls White Sox. He is hitting .315 with eight home runs in 53 games at first base.
Pepperdine isn’t just producing professional baseball players. A few NBA players list Pepperdine as their alma mater, including Sacramento Kings standout Doug Christie.
As a defensive specialist, Christie averaged 1.84 steals per game, which was good enough for fifth in the NBA.
Also in the NBA, Brandon Armstrong, a three-year veteran for the New Jersey Nets, played in 56 games at shooting guard this year. He scored his career high in points against the Atlanta Hawks in April.
Tezale Archie, a 2000 Pepperdine graduate, is playing in Turkey for Kolejliler Ankara. Cedric Suitt, a 2002 Pepperdine graduate, played the 2004 season for the Adirondack Wildcats in the USBL.
Recent alumni Jimmy Miggins and Boomer Brazzle are also enjoying professional success. Brazzle averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds and 1 1/2 blocks per game playing in Niigata, Japan. Miggins tore his ACL last season but has offers to play in Cyprus and Iceland.
Pepperdine athletic director John Watson said he is “extremely proud and happy for each individual.” He added that “to find academic success and developed your athletic talent to the level of playing professionally is remarkable.”