UH tries to gain steam
The Cougars will play a doubleheader against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks starting at 3 p.m. today in Nacogdoches before finishing with a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday at Cougar Field.
UH will conclude its longest road trip of the season with today’s game. The Cougars began an eight-game West Coast trip on March 12 with a three-game series against Cal Poly.
At the start of the road trip, the Cougars were 5-5. They fell back at .500 after getting swept by Arizona State last weekend and now sit at 9-9 on the season.
Against Arizona State, the Cougars faced one of the top teams in the nation. The Sun Devils are ranked No. 1 by USA Today and Collegiate Baseball and their lowest ranking in any poll is third.
The Sun Devils are a complete team with a staggering team ERA of 2.97 and a .362 team batting average, and they were on form against the Cougars. The Sun Devils hit .302 and scored 22 runs while allowing only six runs in the three games.
While the Lumberjacks (13-5) aren’t as highly touted as the Sun Devils, they’re still coming off a recent five-game win streak and have won six of their last seven.
The Lumberjacks finished 23-32 last season under rookie head coach Johnny Cardenas. The Lumberjacks’ problems last season were pitching and defense. Their team ERA last season was 5.56, and they committed 81 errors compared to their opponents’ 72 for a mediocre .961 fielding percentage.
The Lumberjacks, though, started showing some improvement late last year and ended it by making it into the Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 8 seed, where they lost to Texas State in the opening round and Texas-Arlington in the elimination round.
The Lumberjacks have made immense strides this year and are in second place in the Southland Conference standings with a 4-1 record, trailing Southeastern Louisiana by half a game.
The Lumberjacks have had two series sweeps this year and their best victory of the season came on Feb. 24 against Texas A&M in College Station, winning 7-6.
The Lumberjacks have improved their pitching to a 4.27 team ERA, and as a team they’re hitting .331 and slugging at a .529 clip.
UH has had success against SFA, leading the all-time series 35-11 and 6-2 under head coach Rayner Noble. UH has played the Lumberjacks twice every year since 2006. The Lumberjacks beat UH 11-7 at Cougar Field.
After the two-game stretch against Stephen F. Austin, the Cougars will open a three-game series against Central Florida starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Cougar Field.