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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Baseball

Whitting still believes in Cougars


The Cougars will look to get back on track as they welcome the Lamar Cardinals for a mid-week match up that gets underway at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Cougar Field.

After suffering another Conference USA-series loss over the weekend, the Cougars desperately need to get a win to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

“These games coming up this week are huge for us because we’re trying to set ourselves in a position to be an at-large team in the NCAA tournament,” head coach Todd Whitting said. “(People) may think I’m crazy when I keep talking about that, but when (Monday’s) RPIs came out we were 67 in the country as an under-.500 team.”

“With the teams left on our schedule, and the great teams we’ve played on our schedule to this point, if we can get above .500, we have a shot to be an at-large team.”

Whitting said he knows that the postseason is still a real possibility for the team. He points to the 1998 team as a prime example of what a strong schedule can do for a club.

“In 1998, I believe we were 29-28 and received a bid to the NCAA tournament as a 3-seed,” Whitting said. “The ’98 team is considered one of the great teams in the history of our program, yet it was one game over .500.

“With our RPI and strength of schedule, if we can just get to a .500 record, I think we’ll be fine.”

On Monday, collegebaseballlineup.com released their DI baseball strength of schedule which showed the Cougars have faced the toughest schedule in the nation.

“We’ve been through what’s ranked as the number one schedule in the country and we’re fighting a lot of injuries right now,” Whitting said. “I haven’t given up on anything and the players haven’t given up on anything.”

UH (11-18-1, 1-7-1 C-USA) will take on a Lamar club that, much like the Cougars, has been disappointing this season. The Cardinals (12-8, 5-10 Southland Conference) come into Cougar Field having won four of their last five games, including their previous two series. Don’t be fooled by the Cardinals’ record, they always play the Cougars tough.

“(Lamar) is a good program,” Whitting said. “They’re having a little bit of a rough spell right now as well, but coach Gilligan will have those guys ready to play.”

Darian Johnson leads the Cardinals offensive attack and leads the team in hits and home runs with 34 and two, respectively.

Aaron Garza will take the mound for UH tonight. In his last start, Garza led the Cougars to a victory over visiting McNeese St. He went five innings, allowing one run on four hits to go along with four strikeouts.

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