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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Softball

UH softball looks to turn things around in 2022


Senior center fielder Aspen Howie blasts a 3-run home run in UH softball's season-opening win over UTSA. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Senior center fielder Aspen Howie blasts a 3-run home run in UH softball’s season-opening win over UTSA. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Coming off a 17-33 season in 2021, the Houston softball team is walking into 2022 looking to bounce back with higher expectations.

Every new season means players return, leave and arrive, and while this team is different from last season, UH softball head coach Kristin Vesely has been capable of leading her teams to success in years past.

“We’re the tale of two teams,” Vesely said. “We have a lot of newcomers, so we have our expectations to get acclimated pretty quickly while also continuing to work on team chemistry so that we are ready to go to conference and compete for a conference championship.” 

Having gone 16-7 overall in 2020 before COVID-19 ended the season early, the Cougars saw a drop off during the 2021 season. The Cougars split home games with a 12-12 record, yet struggled mightily on the road, going 4-17 in true away games and 1-4 in neutral site games.  

With a new season beginning, it is an opportunity for UH to get the sour taste of the 2021 season out of its mouth and turn things around this year.

One reason that the team has optimism that 2022 will be a strong year for UH softball is because of the new players coming in.

“I think we have a lot of new talent,” said senior left fielder Bethany Busch. “The girls that we had last year really mesh well with the newcomers and we’re all super competitive and really driven and confident to go far into the season.”

With the start of the season in full swing, the excitement levels are high for the Cougars as they look to make the most of the opening weeks and spark some momentum moving forward.

“The anticipation is super high,” said senior center fielder Aspen Howie. “Watching us at practice tells us that we have a lot of talent and our talent is really good. I think we work together very well and we’re all super excited to see what we can do this season.”

Entering her sixth season as head coach at UH, Vesely delivered four consecutive winning seasons in her first four years since being promoted to head coach in 2016.

Last season’s team was the first to suffer a losing record with Vesely at the helm. While it stands as a small blemish on her record, Vesely and the team are determined to turn things around and contend for yet another winning season and beyond.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Vesely said. “I think we’re really competitive, we have a lot of depth and we’re going to see some new faces coming in so I think that keeps the front line extra motivated because they know that they can lose out on opportunities. We’re just excited for the new haul.”

While the Cougars are off to a hot start, going 4-1 in the Houston Invitational and outscoring their opponents 39-9, a long season lies ahead.

UH has the pieces to bounce back from the down year in 2021, but the road to return to the postseason will be anything but smooth.

“I don’t doubt that we can turn things around and be a winning team,” Vesely said about this season’s team. “We have to learn to see it our way, so if we continue to work hard, we’ll be in a good spot.”

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