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Volume 71, Issue 135, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sports

SILENT ASSASSIN

Second best in C-USA speaks numbers for UH

RONNIE TURNER
SPORTS COLUMNIST

What more can you ask of the UH baseball team? 

The Cougars have won 16 of their last 20 games, Collegiate Baseball has them ranked No. 13 and they're scaring the day light out of opposing pitchers. What's not to like? 

The Cougars (28-15, 12-3 C-USA) have done everything that's been asked of them this season, and in actuality, they've done more. 

Fans expected the Cougars to compete in the revamped Conference USA that now includes baseball powerhouses Rice, Tulane and Southern Miss, but nobody expected the Cougars to put themselves in a position to actually win the regular season championship. 

With 12 games -- nine of which conference games -- remaining in the regular season, the Cougars find themselves solidly entrenched in second place, two games behind C-USA frontrunner Rice (35-9, 14-1, not counting Tuesday's game against Texas State). Not bad for a team that couldn't even sniff the title last season. 

However, when it's all said and done, the Cougars will finish no higher than second place. UH would need either Central Florida or Marshall to steal a victory or two from Rice over the final three weeks of the regular season, and would have to sweep the Owls in their three-game series on May 12-14 in order to wrap up the title. I'll be blunt: Rice will take care of business against UCF and Marshall, and the Cougars won't sweep them, and that's the end of that story. 

But even with that ending, another story will open up. The story of what the Cougars will do in the C-USA Tournament and in the NCAA Regional that follows. UH is primed to make quite a run in the NCAA Tournament, especially with a team that is loaded with a vast amount of talent. The Cougars posses an offense that can score runs at will and a starting rotation that can dominate the most intimidating lineups. There are still some question marks with the bullpen, but it has, for the most, part been pretty solid lately. 

After two consecutive seasons of being shut out of the postseason, the Cougars would love to make a deep run in this year's postseason. Until they get that chance, the Cougars will just have to play out the string and let the cards fall where they may. Something tells me that it will end with a runner-up finish and a shot to, perhaps, snatch the C-USA Tournament title. 

But hey, what more could you ask for?
 

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