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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Softball

Softball ready to suit up against in-state rival Texas A&M


Junior Lindsey Stewart won American Athletic Conference Player of the Week this week for batting .526 with 12 RBIs, two triples and a home run. | Ahmed Gul/The Cougar

Houston will look to continue its seven-game winning streak Wednesday when it plays Texas A&M at home in its annual Strike Out Breast Cancer game.

It is not just a competitive in-state matchup but one meant to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research.

“It’s always a good rivalry since it is another good Texas school that we play every year, and no matter what, it is always a tough game for both of us, so we are looking forward to it,” said junior pitcher Trystan Melancon, who threw a no-hitter over the weekend. “We get to do something that we love while also supporting and raising money for a good cause.”

The Cougars and Aggies have played each other twice during Kristin Vesely’s tenure as head coach. Houston defeated then-No. 5 Texas A&M 1-0 in 2017, but they got revenge last season in a 4-5 win.

“We love playing quality teams, and we’ve packed out the schedule with those,” Vesely said.

Vesely said it will be another game for the Cougars to measure themselves against a top team in the country, see if they play well under pressure and keep making improvements.

“Not so much the wins and losses, but playing against ourselves and playing the best that we can. That’s what we’ve been measuring ourselves off,” Vesely said.

But the game itself is not the only focus, as the teams will be playing for more than just the win.

The Cougars have been partnered with the Susan G. Komen foundation to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness since 2007.

Houston has raised $97,089 since the partnership began and is looking to break the $100,000 mark this season.

“Any time you can play for a cause and play for something other than ourselves and our University is just a tremendous feeling,” Vesely said.

UH Athletics will be holding an auction for items and has asked fans to wear pink to the game.

Houston’s pitching has been key in its 11-5 start, and the Cougars have multiple options to choose from against the Aggies.

Senior Presley Bell has a .7 ERA over 30 innings pitched while senior Savannah Heebner has a 1.40 ERA across 40 innings. Melancon was one of the pitchers who only pitched one game over the five-game weekend and has the least wear of the three experienced pitchers on the team.

Texas A&M has had two major pitchers who have helped the team to its 9-5 record. Junior Payton McBride and junior Kendall Potts have thrown 68.2 of the Aggies’ 87 innings on the mound with McBride sporting a 1.77 ERA and Potts a 2.95 ERA.

Texas A&M’s batting is above Houston’s at .325 compared to .277, but Houston has only been shut out once this season.

Houston has just six home games left before it goes on a three-week road trip, and continuing to build momentum off of its seven-game winning streak will help the team do well.

The Cougars and Aggies play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Cougar Softball Stadium.

Correction: A previous iteration of this article stated that Texas A&M was ranked in the USA Softball Poll. That was an outdated poll and in the current one, the Aggies are not ranked, but have received votes. The Cougar apologizes for the error.

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