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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Cougars split games against ranked opponents on Opening Day

Junior Trystan Melancon closed out Opening Day against Oklahoma State and threw seven strikeouts but allowed three runs. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Houston started off its season with a 4-3 comeback win against No. 13 Kentucky and a 5-1 loss to No. 22 Oklahoma State.

“I think we did well. Our expreience played a vital part in taking down a top 15 team,” said head coach Kristin Vesely. “We get to face (Kentucky) again tomorrow, so it will be really interesting to see how we respond and if we can beat them twice.”

Senior pitcher Savannah Heebner started the game against Kentucky and had an off night, as she allowed nine hits and three runs, but she made up for it at the plate.

The Cougars fell behind 3-1 after a two-run homerun in the fifth inning, but a series of singles and a big hit down center in the sixth inning tied the game.

That brought up Heebner, who made up for her runs allowed by hitting a deep shot to center to drive in the game-winning RBI. Heebner finished 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles and a single.

The next game against the Cowgirls was similar to the first, with both teams scoring one run and then the visiting team jumping out to a 3-1 lead.

But this time, Houston could not fight back to take the lead. The Cougars were able to get runners into scoring position but could not send anyone home to close the gap.

Oklahoma State scored two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-1, and that is where the night ended.

Houston used three of its four pitchers in the games, so fans could see freshman Rachel Hertenberger make her debut for the team.

Vesely said in a preseason interview that Hertenberger is expected to contribute right away and will be key to keeping the pitching rotation fresh.

Houston next plays Kentucky at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, then Illinois, who went 2-0 on Opening Day, at 7 p.m. and Sam Houston State at 2 p.m. Sunday to wrap up the Houston Invitational.

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