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Friday, August 18, 2017

Softball

Cougars sweep Huskies behind 22-run affair


Highlighted by Sunday’s 22-0 victory, the Cougars improved to 5-1 in AAC play this season. | Justin Tijerina/ The Cougar

Coming off a disappointing doubleheader split against Lamar, the Cougars returned to action over the weekend, sweeping UConn in three games.

The wins help the Cougars improve to 20-17 on the season overall and are tied with Tulsa for the conference lead at 5-1. Dating back to last season, they have now won four straight series against American Athletic Conference foes.

Houston won games one and two, 6-0 and 6-4, respectively, before an offensive explosion on Sunday, totaling 22 runs on 16 hits to clinch the sweep in five innings.

Although scoring six runs on nine hits, the story of Friday’s series opener was the pitching performance by sophomore Savannah Heebner (8-6, 2.16). The righty picked up the complete-game shutout, holding the Huskies to two hits and walking none.

Freshman second baseman Arielle James led all Cougars with three hits as sophomore outfielder Maya Thomas finished 2-for-4 with one RBI. Over the series, Thomas finished 6-for-11, improving her average to .449, good for second in the AAC.

Saturday’s game was a scare for the Cougars as the Huskies put up four runs over the final two innings, but freshman starter Trystan Melancon held off the comeback in the 6-4 victory. Melancon (9-6, 2.46) finished with her seventh complete game of the season, giving up four runs, three earned, on seven Husky hits.

After getting through four scoreless, the Cougar offense broke through for two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Consecutive walks put two on for freshman designated player Kelli Montgomery, who plated two on an RBI-single.

The Huskies would tie it up in the top of the sixth, but the Cougars blew it open with four more in the bottom of the frame. Thomas got the scoring started with an RBI-single, and came home on a bases-loaded two RBI-single by Heebner. Montgomery would bring home one more, giving the Cougars all the cushion they would need to secure the series win.

The Cougar offense was the story in Sunday’s series-sweeping win as they totaled an AAC record 22 runs against a conference opponent. A 10-run third inning paved the way as the Cougars finished with their second highest run total in program history, behind only a 25-0 victory over Texas Southern in 2003.

The Cougars jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first behind a three-run homer to right center by Heebner. In addition to going 2-for-2 with 7 RBIs and two home runs, Heebner held the Huskies scoreless on two hits in four innings as a pitcher.

The Cougars would add six more runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a Heebner grand slam, the first of her career and second home run of the afternoon. The multi-home run game is the first of her career and second for the Cougars this season.

The Cougars would then double their 10-0 lead in the bottom of the third.

Overall, the Cougars finished with four home runs and 16 hits in the offensive affair. Twelve different Cougars scored a run, including eight starters.

Houston will look to use the momentum from the sweep to continue their win streak as they travel to Nacogdoches on Tuesday to face SFA in the first of a six-game road trip.

sports@thedailycougar.com

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