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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Baseball

Baseball preps for Baylor series against Prairie View


After amassing a conference-high 14 home runs last season, sophomore first baseman Joe Davis has yet to go deep in 2017. | Courtesy Houston Athletics / @UHCougarBB

Following a rain-out of Sunday’s rubber match, the Cougars split the weekend series against No. 7 Cal State Fullerton 1-1.

The Cougar’s next match comes against Prairie View A&M on Wednesday. The Panthers are currently one of the worst teams in college baseball.

They are in the midst of a twelve-game losing streak and in that stretch they have only one loss by three runs or less. The Panthers have only scored 34 runs on the season to their opponents 121.

This match presents itself to be a buffer match for the Cougars before they travel to Waco for a three-game series against No. 22 Baylor — similar to how they used the UT Rio Grande Valley match to prepare for Fullerton. The Cougars scored 11 runs in that game and a similar score line should be expected.

Behind the efforts of junior pitcher Seth Romero, the baseball team is ranked No. 23 by D1Baseball.com.

In his three starts, Romero has struck out 34 batters and only given up 7 earned runs. His strikeout total is currently second best in the country, behind only Wills Montgomery of Connecticut. Ten of those strikeouts came in the team’s 7-4 win against the Titans.

Romero’s performance against the Titans led to him being named American Conference Pitcher of the Week, his second honor in three weeks of competition. The first time came following his opening day performance against Wake Forest. In the 8-1 victory, Romero gave up one earned run and stuck out 12 in six innings.

Overall, the baseball team has carried over their strong pitching from last season. The team’s 2.12 ERA is currently No. 10 in the country. But despite their 7-3 record, the Cougars still have room to improve hitting wise.

The team’s batting average, .307, only ranks No. 42 in the NCAA, but sophomore utility player Grayson Padgett has been a highlight on the team. His team-leading 15 hits in 40 at bats has earned him a .375 BA, also a team lead. In addition, Padgett boasts a slugging percentage of .600 to go along with his nine RBIs, also team leads.

But for this team to be truly successful they need their returning hitters to perform to their All-Conference level. While junior catcher Connor Wong leads the team with 14 runs, sophomore designated hitter Joe Davis has yet to hit a home run after hitting 14 last year, while junior outfielder Corey Julks and junior infielder Connor Hollis are both near the bottom of the hitting statistics.

The numbers are not the whole story, as not even one month of baseball has been played. The team still has plenty of time to improve and get to a championship level come May.

The series against Baylor will give a great window into how the rest of the season may play out.

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