Cougars look to limit miscues
Although the Cougars were outscored 27-7 en route to dropping two of three games to Kansas State over the weekend, head coach Rayner Noble was pleased his squad learned a valuable lesson about playing defense.
Pitchers and catchers were the chief beneficiaries of this lesson, showcasing a better understanding of how to hold runners on base in Sunday’s series finale after letting the Wildcats run freely in the first two games.’
Kansas State had a combined 12 stolen bases in the first two games, but the Cougars allowed only one in a 3-2, 10-inning win Sunday.
‘This was a good series for us because that’s about as aggressive a team (on the bases) as you’ll find,’ said Noble, who recorded his 500th career win Sunday. ‘It was good for us to have to go through that.’
The pitchers’ deliveries were quicker to the plate and catcher John Cannon made sharper throws Sunday. ‘
‘Coach Noble talked to us before the game, saying, ‘That’s why we’re losing these games badly right now because they’re just stealing bases whenever they want to,” said closer Chase Dempsay, who pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings Sunday to earn his first win of the season. ‘He told us that we had to be quicker to the plate and don’t get into a (pattern) so the runners know when to go. We got a lot better at that.’
The Cougars (1-2) hope the momentum of Sunday’s win will carry over into their matchup against Stephen F. Austin at 3 p.m. today at Jaycees Field in Nacogdoches, but they’ll have to brace themselves for possible growing pains from one player.
Freshman right-hander Michael Goodnight will make his first collegiate start. The hard-tossing Goodnight, whose fastball can consistently stay in the 90-94 miles-per-hour range, was a two-way star at Westside High School, helping his team come one win short of the Class 5A state semifinals in 2008.
He’ll face an SFA squad that is also off to a rough start this season. The Lumberjacks (1-2) dropped decisions to Mississippi Valley State and Louisiana-Monroe by a combined score of 28-10 Saturday at the ULM Warhawk Classic, but rebounded with a 7-2 win over Northwestern State on Sunday.
Today’s game will be a tune-up for a bigger matchup against crosstown rival and Collegiate Baseball No. 10 Rice on Wednesday.’
A win would go a long way toward building confidence for a UH squad with four freshmen, including one redshirt, seeing significant action on the field.
‘We’re a younger team, and I think we just need to get the kinks out,’ Dempsay said. ‘All the freshmen on the team who are starters right now were used to seeing us, and I think seeing another jersey over there (in the opposing dugout) just kind of frightened them for a couple of games. I think now they kind of have their nerves down, and we’ll start winning some games.’