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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Softball

Cougars begin California road trip, ramp up to Utah match


Cougar Softball opens up their California road trip against Cal State Fullerton | Courtesy of UH Athletics

During 12 games, the Cougar softball team compiled a record of 5-7. After going 4-4 in its first eight games, all at Cougar Softball Stadium, the team went toe-to-toe against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Cougars forced the defending national champions into extra innings twice, but lost both games by a total of three runs.

The softball team is competing in its first away game of the season, playing California State—Fullerton Thursday night. The Titans begin the game with a record of 6-5. Their ERA (3.73) and batting average (.277) rank only 138th and 126th respectively.

The Cougars were held to a high of five runs in their games against Oklahoma and the University of Mississippi but scored 12 runs each in matches against Rhode Island and Incarnate Word. Against lesser opponents, the Cougars have played with more fire power.

Senior utility athlete Shelby Miller and sophomore Maya Thomas lead a team whose batting average (.325) ranks No. 39 in the nation. Miller is currently tied for first in the nation for home runs (7) and second for RBIs (19). Her slugging percentage of .944 ranks at No. 36 nationwide.

Thomas leads the team in batting average (.485) with 16 hits in her 33 at-bats. Her total of 16 hits ties for the team lead with freshman utility athlete Arielle James.

The pitching staff still needs to improve, as none of the four starting pitchers have a winning record. Between them they compiled a 3.33 ERA, ranking No. 133 in the nation.

Trystan Melancon is a high point in the group. While only having a 2-2 record, she leads the team with an ERA of 2.15 through five appearances.

The Titans are similar, as they have a pair of athletes on their roster that shines in their average offense and pitching.

Senior Kelsey Kessler is the ace in their pitching staff. In seven appearances, she has compiled an ERA of 1.95 and a record of 3-1. Her ERA is a whole 2.00 points better than the next best, plus her 32.1 innings pitched includes 1 complete game. Her 36 strikeouts is currently tied for No. 30 in the nation.

On the batting side, senior Delynn Rippy leads the way. Through 11 games, she has racked up 17 hits and 8 RBIs in 39 at-bats, earning a batting average of .436. In addition, she owns a slugging percentage of .487 and an on-base percentage of .450.

But for the Cougars, this game is a crucial momentum-grabber. Their game against the Titans is the start of a five game road trip in California. After they play Cal State—Fullerton, the Cougars will travel to Palm Springs the next day to participate in the Mary Nutter Classic. There, they will open up the round robin against the Utah Utes, currently ranked 17th by USA Today/NFCA Coaches. The Utes are currently 7-0.

The Cougars can use this game to springboard themselves into the competition, just as they used the game against Rhode Island to ready them for Oklahoma. They need to bring back that competitive spirit against the Titans, and then against the Utes.

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