March 5, 2011
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The University of Houston softball team took an early lead before falling behind to Fresno State, only to rally back and defeat a top-25 team for the fourth time this season on Sunday morning, 4-3.
Houston (16-5), ranked No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, matched up against Fresno State (8-2), ranked No. 23 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, for a thrilling back-and-forth game that saw the Cougars take the lead in the second, fall behind in the fourth and score the final go ahead run in the sixth.
"When you're right in the middle of it, you never like to be in those types of situations," head coach Kyla Holas said. "But when you can come back and you're done with it, you love it. That's one of those things you love about this sport."
The Cougars pounded out four runs off of 11 hits, including the second homerun of the season for freshman first baseman Stesha Brazil and the first three-hit game of freshman catcher Haley Outon's career.
Senior Amanda Crabtree (10-1) picked up her tenth win on the season, tying a career-high in strikeouts (14) to do so. She went 2-1 on the weekend, as the Cougars finished the Campbell/Cartier Classic with a 3-2 record.
"Of course I'd like to have all five," Holas said. "I think we're seeing things we had to work on and were able to work on some of those things, which we were pleased with."
After Crabtree struck out the side to roll through the first, her offense started showing its support right away in the top of the second.
Sophomore shortstop Brooke Lathan crushed a double to the centerfield wall to lead off the inning, and Brazil went yard over the left field wall to put the Cougars up, 2-0, and chase starter Michelle Moses from the game.
"We made some changes and talked to different people about taking responsibility," Holas said. "They responded today by coming and playing a lot more relaxed."
Senior Angela Spittler earned the start in right field and welcomed Bulldog reliever Mackenzie Oakes (5-1) to the game by tagging her first offering up the middle for a single. Spittler also had a multi-hit performance on Sunday, going a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk and a sac bunt.
A single sandwiched between a pair of walks loaded the bases for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the second. A single through the left side plated a run for FS, but Crabtree struck out the next batter faced to leave the bases loaded up, 2-1.
A leadoff walk proved costly in the bottom of the fourth when centerfielder Demi Walker followed the walk with a two-run shot to left, swinging the game in favor of Fresno State, 3-2.
Houston stole the momentum back in the top of the sixth. Brazil led off the inning with a walk and Outon chipped in a single to put Brazil in position to score on senior center fielder Katy Beth Sherman's RBI single, tying the game.
With the bags packed, sophomore designated player Reina Gaber drew a walk to push the go ahead run across, 4-3.
Crabtree struck out five of the remaining six Bulldog batters to end the game and preserve the win, 4-3.
The Cougars are in action again on Thursday when they travel to Austin to face No. 12 Texas.