Cougars defeat Aggies after explosive third inning
After a mix of pitcher errors and great hits, Houston defeated Texas A&M 9-3 in the Strike Out Breast Cancer game Wednesday night.
It was one of the fullest crowds of the season as the teams honored breast cancer survivors and raised money for research and awareness in partnership with the Susan G. Komen foundation.
“(It was) probably our first big crowd. It has a tremendous impact on the game, and it gives our players just a little bit more motivation knowing that there is kids in the stands looking up to them and watching them,” said head coach Kristin Vesely.
The Cougars had a tough beginning of the match but turned on the jets in the middle to take hold of the game.
Texas A&M started the game with a lead off hit by junior Kelbi Fortenberry, which was followed by a home run by senior Riley Sartain to make it 2-0 early.
“I give credit to Texas A&M hitters. They did a good job of game planning for (our pitching),” Vesely said.
She also credited senior pitcher Savannah Heebner and senior catcher Brooke Vannoy for adjusting the game plan according to assistant coach Megan Gibson-Loftin’s scouting.
Junior Lindsey Stewart had a lead off single of her own in the bottom of the first inning and was able to advance all the way to third base, but the Cougars could not take the chance to strike back on the score board.
Texas A&M struck again in the second inning when a runner got to home after an error on an infield throw that would have ended the half 3-0.
Heebner made it all the way to third base in the bottom of the inning and capitalized on the chance to steal home to make it 3-1 after a wild pitch.
The Cougars powered ahead of the Aggies in the bottom of the third inning with three hits, five walks and a hit-by-pitch that allowed the team to score six runs to take the lead.
Vannoy walked to start the inning, Stewart singled again, freshman Abby Odneal walked and a wild pitch let Vannoy steal home.
Texas A&M changed pitchers and struck out the first Houston player, but a single by Heebner, a walk and then a double from senior Maya Thomas made it 6-3.
Vannoy and Stewart returned to the plate, and both were walked before another pitching change was made. The inning finally ended, but the damage was done.
“I thought the hitters did a really good job. If it was a pitch they could drive, they hit it. They were really disciplined,” Vesely said.
The score stood still until the bottom of the sixth inning when Stewart got on base before Odneal hit a home run to make it 9-3.
Heebner threw a complete game with five hits allowed, three strikeouts and three earned runs allowed.
Houston will host the Red & White Showcase this weekend against DePaul, Texas Southern and Texas State before going on a 16-day, 10-game road trip.
The first game against Texas State is at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Cougar Softball Stadium.