Feb. 12, 2012
HOUSTON - The No. 20 Houston Cougars softball team beat North Texas and Sam Houston State Sunday afternoon to sweep the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. Houston outscored their five opponents 37-9 to start the season 5-0.
Houston had to battle the elements over the opening weekend series as a game Friday was cancelled to rain and Sunday's action was played in weather dipping to the 30s. The tough series provided Holas with an early assessment of the team's strengths but also highlighted where there's room for improvement for the nationally-ranked squad.
"We have a whole list of things to work on this week but we needed to play day three of the tournament and see where our problems are. The third day is tough mentally, physically and with the weather conditions today we saw a lot of places we could use improvement."
With their undefeated start, the Cougars have posted the third-best start in program history.
NORTH TEXAS (1-3) W, 10-2
Houston jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first two frames and added five more runs in the sixth and seventh innings before North Texas got on the board.
Ashleigh Jones reached base and stole second for one of her team-leading four steals in the first before Holly Anderson connected on her first home run of the season to give Houston an early 2-0 lead. The Cougars drew walks from Haley Outon and Jennifer Klinkert, one of three on the day for Klinkert, before the inning drew to a close.
Staying true to form, Houston was aggressive on the base paths early which helped lead to the early lead but also blunted rallies with two outs found that way.
It was more than enough for sophomore Diedre Outon who held the Mean Green hitless until the fifth inning after a leadoff double. Outon got a double-play from her defense in the second inning for the second straight day as the Pflugerville, Texas native cruised through the first six innings to a 2-0 record on the year.
Maddelyn Fraley hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning and North Texas strung together four hits in the inning but Outon was able to regain her form and complete the game to spare the bullpen some work.
"We did a good job with pitching overall today. Sunday is a tough day in opening tournaments because you're not used to pitching three days in a row like that. We needed them all to step up today and Diedre (Outon) was huge for us by going the distance in game one and stepping up in game two."
Redshirt Freshman Sydney Gerbracht came off the bench for Houston and hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Gerbracht went 2-for-2 on the afternoon and scored two runs.
SAM HOUSTON STATE (0-4) W, 6-4
Houston found themselves trailing for the first time on the season as Sam Houston State hit two solo shots in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Bailey Watts started the game for Houston but turned the ball over to Summer Groholski after the blasts.
The Cougars answered the Bearkats inning with a four-run two-out rally to improve Groholski's record to 2-0. Jones started with rally with a single before being driven in by Reina Gaber's double down the line. Jennifer Klinkert hit a home-run with Holly Anderson on base to give Houston the lead back for good.
Jones would use her speed again to give Houston an insurance run as she stretched a double and scored on another Gaber base hit.
Groholski made it to the seventh inning before tiring. After one run was scored, Holas turned to D. Outon to lock down the game and give her first save of the season.
Houston hosts the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational this upcoming weekend Feb. 18-19. Houston plays Louisiana-Monroe and McNeese State both days.