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Volume 72, Issue 124, Friday, April 6, 2007


Cougars have chance to show UAB who's running C-USA

Brown will take first shot at potent Blazers' lineup

The Daily Cougar

Alabama-Birmingham won't scare many teams with its pitching, but its lineup is sure to give opposing pitchers something extra to think about. 

On paper, the Blazers boast one of the most potent offenses in Conference USA. UAB has the second-highest batting average in the league at .298, and three Blazers -- J.R. Bond, Ryan Keedy and Ryne Lovdahl -- are hitting well over .350 and are among the top 10 league leaders.

But these are just numbers to UH freshman pitcher Wes Musick. The left-hander is confident he and his teammates will be able to handle the UAB batters when the two teams meet for a three-game series this weekend at Cougar Field.

"They have a couple of guys hitting (over) .300, but every team has guys hitting over .300," Musick said. "We're just going to go in there and pitch like we've been doing, and hopefully we get the job done."

The series will get under way at 7 p.m. tonight. Junior right-hander Aaron Brown will make his eighth start of the season for the Cougars (15-13, 3-0 C-USA).

Brown (4-1) pitched extremely well in his last outing against Lamar on March 27. 

He tossed two scoreless innings out the bullpen and was the winning pitcher in the Cougars' 17-10 (10 inn.) victory.

It appears that Brown's early season struggles are a thing of the past.

"He's a guy that's pitching with a lot of confidence," UH head coach Rayner Noble said. "You show me any ballplayer that has a lot of confidence, and I'll show you a guy that's probably playing pretty good. 

"We just need for him and Wes to continue to set the tone on the weekends. That's huge for us."

Houston dropped a 12-6 decision Tuesday night at Baylor, but the Cougars realize they can't afford a major setback against UAB (15-16, 3-0).

"We have to approach each series like it's our last," senior infield Dustin Kingsbury said. "We can take any (team) for granted or look past anyone."

Musick (4-3) and freshman right-hander John Touchton (2-2) will probably start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Hargrove close to returning

Injured junior right-hander Ricky Hargrove remains on the inactive list, but has made significant progress and could start throwing off the mound next week.

Hargrove, who has yet to pitch this season because of soreness in his throwing shoulder, is currently on a throwing program to get his arm in shape. Since he began throwing, he hasn't felt any pain.

"I've been throwing for the past week and a half, and things have been feeling good," Hargrove said. "From where I've been to where I'm at right now, I've come a long way."

Because the Cougars have played over slightly half of their regular season schedule, Hargrove can no longer receive a medical redshirt. If he were to pitch a single inning this season, he would burn a year of eligibility and be left with only one.

However, if he were not to pitch at all this season, he would retain his two years of eligibility because of current NCAA rules that allow student-athletes to participate only four years during a five-year period. 

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