It’s good to be home

Shortstop Chase Jensen leads an offense looking to pounce on No. 21 Baylor tonight at Cougar Field. Jensen leads UH in batting average (.316), RBI (19), slugging percentage (.430) and total bases (34). UH is averaging 4.22 runs per game this season. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

After spending almost the entire month on the road, the travel-weary Cougars will return home for only the second time this month to take on No. 21 Baylor in a mid-week matchup.

The contest gets underway at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Cougar Field.

Aaron Stewart has been one of the better arms out of the UH bullpen this season with a 1.80 ERA in five innings. | Brianna Leigh Morrison/The Daily Cougar

“(Baylor) is one of the elite programs in the country; they’re one of the best programs in the state,” head coach Todd Whitting said. “Coach (Steve) Smith has one of the best teams that he’s had in a long time up there.

“This is going to be great to for our ballclub to play this tough opponent. I’m counting on our kids to come out and play hard (tonight).”

The Cougars have been playing hard all season, but they have also been piling up the errors. Whitting said that this is the reason for the club’s record.

“Right now, what seems to happen to our ballclub is when we make a mistake, it becomes a huge mistake,” Whitting said. “We need to play better defense because when we play good defense it gives us a real good chance to win.

The Cougars are 9-0 when making one error or fewer and 1-12 when they make two or more errors.

Baylor (18-7, 6-0 Big 12) on the other hand has one of the stoutest defenses in the country. The Bears rank seventh in the NCAA in fielding percentage with a .980 average. They have 14 errors in 225 attempts. UH on the other hand, ranks 211th in the NCAA with 32 errors in 211 attempts for a .957 fielding percentage.

In the batter’s box, the UH offense has been just like the weather in Houston— one day its hot and the next day it cools off.

“That’s a pattern that goes with having new players and playing a lot of young players,” Whitting said. “We start anywhere from three to five freshman at a time in our starting lineup.

“It’s a transition for those new players to show up and bring their  ‘A-game’ every day.”

Baylor comes to town riding a seven-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of Kansas where they outscored the Jayhawks 27-8.

Leading the Bears on offense and defense is second baseman Langford Layton. He is the Bears’ batting average leader with a .413 clip and leads the team in fielding percentage with a .990 average (one error in 66 attempts).

Joey Hainsfurther will take the mound for Baylor. Hainsfurther is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

Pacing the Cougars’ offense is shortstop Chase Jensen.  After a slow start, Jensen has surged at the plate, bringing his average up to .316. He leads the club with 25 hits and has four doubles, a triple and one home run.

The Cougars (10-12, 1-2 Conference-USA) posted a 6-8 record in the March. They are 5-4 at home, 3-7 on the road and 2-1 at neutral sites.

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