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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Softball

Pitching strong early at the Aggie Classic opener


fall ball

Both the bats and pitching were active early as the softball team got the year off to a quick start at the Aggie Classic. | File photo/The Cougar

The softball team got their season off to a hot start this weekend during the Aggie Classic in College Station.

In a tournament featuring the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Boston College Eagles and the hosting No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies, the Cougars went a combined 3-1 with the final game cancelled due to frigid conditions.

The team won two games against Texas Tech and one game against Boston College with a combined score of 17-7, showing their pitchers’ ability to shut down opponents while their bats score runs in bunches. The Cougars lone defeat of the weekend came in a 5-4 loss to the Aggies.

The pitching staff made a concerted effort to begin the season strong. Starting pitchers junior Savannah Heebner and sophomore Trystan Melancon went wire to wire on the mound while combining for 12 strikeouts to four walks in 14 innings pitched, both leading to victories.

Both women also saw their pitch count go well into the triple digits, showing that they have the physical and mental stamina to go the distance.

Heebner got the first start of the season for the Cougars against the Red Raiders. She went a full seven innings, allowing only one earned run on six hits while striking out four batters and giving up no extra-base hits.

Melancon’s first start of the season also came against the Red Raiders. In their third game of the weekend Melancon came out on fire, striking out eight hitters and only allowing one walk. Melancon allowed two earned runs but her teammates poured it on offensively, scoring eight runs to run away with the game.

In the other two games, Melancon and junior Presley Bell each went for at least five innings. They combined to only give up five earned runs against Texas A&M and Boston College each. Melancon and Bell also only allowed two walks over an 11-inning period. The four starters for Houston did not give up a single home run over the course of the Aggie Classic and in two of the four games – against Texas Tech and Boston College — they did not allow an extra-base hit.

On the opposite side of the ball, senior infielder Mariah Garcia had the hottest bat of the weekend, hitting a home run and driving in recording seven runs batted in. Garcia was described by head coach Kristin Vesely as being an early front-runner for Most Improved Player. Garcia was the only player on the team who had an RBI in each game that the team played.

Six teammates had at least one RBI during the tournament.

Four games into their season, the Cougars are hitting the ball at a .294 average (32 hits out of 109 at-bats) while the pitchers are averaging a 3.00 earned run average.

The softball team will stay on the road to open their season, competing in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Starting on Thursday and going through Saturday, the Cougars will go up against the Oregon Ducks, the Ole Miss Rebels, the Rutger Scarlet Knights and the Texas Longhorns.

Their first home game of the year will be against Yale on Feb. 23 at Cougar Softball Stadium.

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