Feb. 18, 2006
HOUSTON - Reliever Crystal Briscoe struck out the final two batters with the bases loaded as the University of Houston softball knocked off No. 15 Baylor 4-2 Friday on the opening day of the Marriott Houston Hobby Invitational at the Cougar Softball Stadium.
The Cougars (7-1) were aided by a Christa Raley grand slam in the sixth inning to charge past Sam Houston State 7-2 in the nightcap, stretching the Houston winning streak to seven games. The Bearkats entered the tournament receiving votes in the latest NFCA Top 25 poll.
"This was a big day for us," head coach Kyla Holas said. "We picked up two quality wins against two good opponents. I couldn't be more proud of our team right now."
Tied 2-2 in the sixth inning against Baylor, the three freshmen at the top of the Cougar batting order delivered with two outs. Jessica Valis started the frame reaching on an infield single. A throwing error by the Baylor pitcher allowed Valis to churn all the way into third base.
On a 1-1 pitch, Nordstrom delivered the game-winning RBI-single up the middle that scored both Valis and Bush to put Houston ahead 4-2
"It's the young girls on this team that have really stepped up and helped us all stay grounded," Briscoe said. "Hopefully folks will notice these wins and maybe we'll get some votes now as people begin to realize how good this team really is."
The Bears threatened in the seventh loading the bases. Holas turned to Briscoe with only one out on the board. The Buffalo, Texas native struck out Harmony Scwethelm and Chelsi Lake, two players on the USA Softball Player of the Year award watch list, in succession to secure the 4-2 victory.
Candi Kloecker improved to 3-0 on the season, throwing 6.1 innings giving up four hits and two runs, while striking out five.
"I knew this was a big game for us," Briscoe said. "I just had to go in there and suck it up and strike them out."
"That's exactly how we wanted and planned that scenario to work out," Holas said. "Crystal's a great reliever and has the head as well as the composure to do that job for us."
Houston used the sixth inning once again, exploding for five runs to bust open the second game against Sam Houston State.
Tied 2-2, the Cougars loaded the bases and it was Nordstrom who smoked a single up the shoot to put the Cougars up 3-2
One batter later, Houston opened the flood gates stretching its advantage to 7-2 as Raley blasted a towering shot for a grand slam over the left centerfield fence.
"I had been struggling all day with not jumping on the first strike," Raley said. "I was able to pick out a good pitch to hit and luckily it just happened to go over the fence.
"We just kept plugging away and hitting some really hard balls at them," Holas said. "I told the team that on defense we needed to keep holding down the fort until those start falling."
Angel Shamblin picked up the win in the circle improving her mark to 3-0. Shamblin went the distance striking out six and allowing only one earned run.
The Cougars will square off against Samford and Northwestern State on day two of the Marriott Houston Hobby Invitational.
"The teams we play tomorrow aren't sleepers by any stretch of the imagination," Holas said. "It's going to be another long day and probably a little colder out there. We want to come out here with our game face on and take another step to reaching our goal of coming away 10-1 at the end of the weekend."
First pitch is slated for approximately 5pm against the Bulldogs. Check UHCougars.com and click on the Marriott Houston Hobby Invitational page for updated game times and live stats from the Cougar Softball Complex throughout the entire day.
"We're still going to have to work hard to get two victories tomorrow," Raley said. "We have to go out there and play the game that we are capable of playing like we did tonight."
Houston improves to 3-4 all-time against Baylor and has won nine of ten meetings against Sam Houston State ... The Cougars have won three meetings in a row with Baylor at the Cougar Softball Stadium ... The Bears have been ranked in the Top 15 in two of those three wins ... Head coach Kyla Holas is now seven wins away from reaching 175 career victories ... The Cougars improve to 3-3 all-time on Feb. 17 ... Houston has outhit its opponents in six of its first nine games this season ... The Cougars drew 10 walks against Baylor, that's one shy of the team record set back on May 4, 2002 against Louisville ... Elaina Nordstrom is the only Cougar to hit safely in all nine games this season ... Five of Nordstrom's nine hits have come with two outs ... Crystal Briscoe picked up her first save of the season ... Briscoe is also 44 strikeouts shy of reaching 350 career Ks ... Candi Kloecker had her scoreless innings streaked snapped at 14 against Baylor ... Kloecker picked up her first career hit against Sam Houston State ... With 10 hits against the Bearkats, Houston has knocked 10 or more hits five times this season ... Jaime Adams picked up her first multi-hit game since Mar. 22, 2005 against DePaul ... Jessica Valis matched a career-high with three hits against the Bearkats ... Valis has tallied at least two hits in five of her last seven contests ... The Shiner, Texas native has also scored a run in four of her last five games ... 12 of Valis' team-best 14 hits have been infield hits ... Valis is 5-for-6 this season in the stolen base department.