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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Commentary

Cougars prepare for midterms


After passing six of their first eight tests in pre-conference match-ups, UH will have a full course load when they compete in the Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park — a unique opportunity to gauge where the program stands against a trio of nationally prominent programs. 

Redshirt freshman outfielder Ashford Fulmer will face a ranked team on the collegiate level for the first time this season at the Astros Foundation College Classic this weekend.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Redshirt freshman outfielder Ashford Fulmer will face a ranked team on the collegiate level for the first time this season at the Astros Foundation College Classic this weekend. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

 

While UH avoids facing top-ranked North Carolina — who is also competing in the tournament — UH will face Texas A&M on Friday, Baylor on Saturday and California on Sunday. The Aggies and Golden Hurricane are two years removed from their last College World Series appearance, and the Bears have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 13 of the last 14 years — including a CWS appearance in 2005.

UH will also have an opportunity to temporarily right a tormented history against their in-state foes. Dating back to 2001, the Cougars hold a combined record of 4-9 against Texas A&M and Baylor in the College Classic. The Aggies ended the last Cougars postseason appearance just one game short of advancing at the College Station Regional in 2008.

The team will likely leave that talk to the fans — especially considering less than a quarter of the players (nine of 37) were even on the squad that dropped both match-ups to the Aggies and Bears in 2011. If the past is any indicator of confidence, the Cougars should be coming in with their heads held high.

Last season, UH took two of three at Minute Maid including a 4-1 victory over then fourth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.

If the Cougars hope to replicate that success this season, head coach Todd Whitting and company will rely on improved defense. UH committed eight errors over its first four games against Northeastern and Sam Houston State but seemed to settle in against Texas State — scoring its first mistake-free game of the season Saturday.

In the fall, UH posted a team-best 3.17 GPA. With the baseball schedule’s version of syllabus week over, the Cougars hope the hard work has paid off in their first round of tests.

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