Houston wraps up opening weekend invitational
The Cougars played the Wildcats Saturday in a rematch of Friday afternoon’s game, but this time the home team had no answer for the batting prowess of the visitors.
Freshman Rachel Hertenberger did not start her career off on the right foot and allowed eight runs in just under four innings pitched.
Junior pitcher Trystan Melancon took over for the last out of the fourth inning and finished the game, but Kentucky got a 10-run lead and the run-ahead rule was put into effect to end the game after five innings with a final score of 13-1.
The second Saturday game was a much closer affair, but Houston still lost to Illinois 4-2 after a full seven innings.
Illinois got on the board first after sophomore Rhein Trochim bunted and the Cougars made an error in their response to allow senior Stephanie Abello to run home.
It was a pattern for the night, as just one of the four runs allowed were earned and the other three came from a mix of errors and walks.
The Fighting Illini scored again in the third inning before the Cougars responded with a pair of runs in the fifth. Senior catcher Brooke Vannoy doubled to send freshman designated player Kati Ray Brown home, followed by junior outfielder Lindsey Stewart sending Vannoy home with a single.
In the deciding seventh inning, Illinois scored another pair of runs due to throwing errors, and the Cougars were unable to respond in the bottom of the seventh.
Sunday, Houston played Sam Houston in a pitching battle to close out the weekend.
Houston got on the board early on when Stewart got to third base with a hit down the left field line and senior Savannah Heebner hit her home with a single.
Later in the third inning, redshirt senior infielder Sarah Barker got to first on a bunt and was advanced by a sacrifice and hit before a misplaced throw allowed her to take home.
It would remain 2-0 until the top of the seventh inning when a toss slammed by SHSU freshman Kyndal Kutac allowed her a solo home run. But that would be all the Bearkats could muster as the comeback fell short and the Cougars took the win.
Melancon said she focused on just doing her job and not worrying so much about the things out of her control.
“I felt more confident heading into today and just tried not to do too much and just let my defense work behind me,” Melancon said.
The team ended the weekend 2-3, but head coach Kristin Vesely said it was a good learning experience and was an early barometer test for the season.
“We have a lot to work on. To reach our long-term goals, we got to clean up. I don’t think we tapped anything close to our potential this weekend,” Vesely said. “We got measured and found things we need to work on.”
Houston will host the Houston Classic next weekend with another slate of five games against Maryland twice, Nevada, Nicholls State and Louisiana-Monroe.
The first game against Maryland is Friday at 3:30 p.m.