Softball prepares for champs with warm-ups against ‘weaker competition’
The Cougar softball team continues its 12-game home stand this week with matches against Houston Baptist, Rhode Island and Ole Miss. The team got off to a rough start by going 2-4 in their opening tournament. That spread included a three-game losing streak in which the Cougars were outscored 25 runs to 11, but they have a bit of momentum coming off of a 7-3 win against Boston College.
Even though it is early, the Cougars will need to find a way to score runs if they hope to turn their season around. Currently they are only batting .321 as a team and are No. 48 in the nation.
Two bright spots amid the sub par offense are senior utility and pitcher Shelby Miller and sophomore Maya Thomas. Miller is tied for No. 1 in the nation with four home runs, while Thomas has a BA of .588 after going 10-17 with four runs.
HBU are less frightening opponents for the Cougars; their batting average and earned run average rank No. 119 and No. 145 respectively, but the Cougars don’t have an ERA to boast about, either. With only two wins between their four starting pitchers, they rank No. 132 with a 4.10 ERA.
Freshman Trystan Melancon leads the pitchers with an ERA of 3.11 in nine innings across two appearances. However, all four starting pitchers have given up double digit hits with opponents, hitting .325 off them.
Their next two games against HBU and Rhode Island present opportunities for the pitchers to improve their ERAs, but nothing is certain. The only opponent they have faced with a top 50 batting average has been Wichita State University, yet the Cougars have only managed to go 2-4.
Wednesday’s game against HBU could go a long way in building momentum before they host the Rawlings Classic starting Friday. The tournament features Rhode Island, Ole Miss, Incarnate Word and No. 4 Oklahoma.
Rhode Island enters the tournament looking for their first action this season after going 12-31 last year. The Rams bring back the top three starters in a rotation that was beat up in 2016, hoisting an ERA of 5.51 while giving up 34 home runs.
Ole Miss comes into Houston at 3-1, tied for tenth in the SEC. The team’s pitchers have been unhittable this season, holding opponents to a .167 average and boasting a 0.27 ERA. Sophomore outfielder Kylan Becker leads the offense with one home run while hitting .500/.500/.714.
The Cougars will look to wake their bats up and settle their pitchers down over the next three games. With a doubleheader against Oklahoma—the defending national champions—set for Saturday, Houston needs to gain some momentum against weaker competition.