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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sports

Cougars seek to make statement


Suddenly, these aren’t the same downtrodden Cougars who started the season full of inconsistencies and bitter disappointments.’

Now, there is a different aura within the clubhouse. Players have stepped up, resulting in a more respectable product on the field. UH could gain more respect when it takes on Collegiate Baseball No. 21 Texas A&M at 6:35 p.m. today at Olsen Field in College Station.’

For the Cougars (13-17), this game not only entails bragging rights over the Aggies (20-11), who have won three of their last four matchups with UH, including a 5-3 victory in the Houston College Classic on March 1 at Minute Maid. A win tonight would also give the Cougars a quality road victory over a ranked opponent and boost their r’eacute;sum’eacute; for the NCAA Tournament.

‘We’re going to go at them very hard,’ head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘We need a win (tonight) to get our (Ratings Percentage Index) back to being respectable.’

The Cougars, who have won six consecutive games and nine of their last 11, are playing their best baseball of the season. They welcomed back a big bat when junior catcher Chris Wallace returned to the lineup last Tuesday against Texas-San Antonio after missing 18 games because of a right orbital bone fracture.

Wallace, who suffered the injury after being hit by a pitch underneath his right eye in the loss to Texas A&M, is 9-for-18 with four doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs since his return, earning him Conference USA Hitter of the Week honors Monday. He leads the Cougars with five home runs and ranks third on the team with 16 RBIs, despite having played only 12 games.’

Wallace is anticipating the rematch against Texas A&M.

‘It’s what I’ve been waiting for,’ Wallace said. ‘When I found out that I could play again, I told the doctor that I wanted to be ready for A&M, so when the doctor gave me the OK, it was like a dream come true.’

Right-hander Mo Wiley will take the mound tonight against a dangerous Aggies lineup, led by third baseman Caleb Shofner. Shofner boasts a .378 batting average with three homers and 21 RBIs this season.’

The Cougars will be more concerned with speedy center fielder Kyle Colligan, who almost always feasts on Cougars’ pitching. In nine games against UH, Colligan owns a career .447 batting average with six homers and 12 RBIs. He also hit a deciding two-run homer in the Aggies’ win over UH earlier this season.’

The Cougars hope to extend their six-game win streak, but they know that it is never easy to win in College Station.

‘(Olsen Field) is a tough place to play with their crowd, and they have a good team, so it would be a huge win for us,’ Wallace said. ‘I think we’re going to get it done. Our pitching is coming around, and everybody’s spotting up, so we have a great chance at going in there and doing some damage on Tuesday night.’


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