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Volume 72, Issue 106, Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sports

UH hopes changes work for defense

by MARK SUAREZ
The Daily Cougar

Harnessing killer instinct at Cougar Field has been a struggle for the UH baseball team. The Cougars opened an eight-game homestand by dropping two out of three games against Northwestern State this weekend but will try to rebound against Lamar at 7 p.m. tonight at Cougar Field.

Houston (7-9) will look to play the role of the hunter when it faces Lamar, which has won eight of its last 10 contests. The Cardinals (9-5) currently are in a mini-slump after dropping their last two games at the Lamar Classic this weekend in Beaumont.

Senior infielder Dustin Kingsbury, however, cautioned that the Cougars could be the hunted if they take another Southland Conference team lightly. The Cougars discovered the danger in that in their losses to Northwestern State. 

"Everybody says, ‘Well, you should beat these teams,' but if you take that attitude into (games against them), you see what happens," Kingsbury said. "They'll take two out of three from you or beat you on a Tuesday (like Texas-San Antonio last week)."

Defense has been a key issue for Houston, which has committed 32 errors in its first 16 games. Kingsbury and junior infielders Ryan Lormand and Bryan Pounds have combined for 18 errors and, as a result, have seen a change in their defensive assignments.

Kingsbury moved from third base to shortstop, Lormand moved from shortstop to second base and Pounds moved from second to third base.

UH head coach Rayner Noble believes these adjustments give the Cougars the best chance to win.

"It's been OK, and we're going to stick with that," Noble said. "I think that's the best defensive scheme we have."

With the home-field advantage, Kingsbury believes the team is capable of rebounding and going on the same type of run that propelled last season's squad to a 22-4 finish at home.

"We pride ourselves on going 22-4 at home last year. (Cougar Field) is usually a tough park for other teams to come into and play, and hopefully we can use that to our advantage," Kingsbury said. 

The Cougars have struggled in the late innings to find clutch hits. They are 0-6 on the season when trailing after six innings and have struggled to close out games as well. Despite the shortfalls, Kingsbury said the future still looks promising.

"If we can get good starting pitching, the hitting that we've had the past few weeks and some of the defense that we've had the past few days, then we (can) have a pretty good ball club that's competing for the Conference USA title," he said.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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