March 11, 2006
HOUSTON - Laura Durham knocked a solo home run to open the eighth inning but the University of Houston softball team's comeback effort fell short 6-5 in eight innings of game one of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Softball Stadium.
It was the Conference USA opener for both teams.
Erin St. Ledger went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs for the Pirates, including the game-winning two-run single down the right field line in the eighth inning to make it 6-4.
The Cougars (18-10, 0-1) mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth as Durham ripped a solo homer with one out in the eighth to cut the deficit down to 6-5. Pinch-hitters Brandi Clark and Haley Valis reached base putting the tying run in scoring position, but Clark was doubled off a pop fly to end the game.
East Carolina (16-6, 1-0 C-USA) broke on the scoreboard first in the second inning as St. Ledger drew a bases loaded walk putting the Pirates ahead 1-0.
Houston responded right away in the home half of the second. Christa Raley and Brooke Johnson drew a pair of walks and moved into scoring position on a ground-out by Jaci Gonzalez. Jessica Valis scored both runs with a single down the left field line giving Houston a 2-1 advantage.
The Cougars extended the lead to 3-1 on an Elaina Nordstrom home run to straight-away centerfield that bounced off the top of the fence and went over.
ECU charged back with a RBI-double from Ashley Quick in the fourth and retook the lead 4-3 platting two runs on a Raley throwing error in the fifth.
The Cougars once again battled back drawing the score even at 4-4 in the fifth inning. Katie Bush led off the frame with a bunt single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nordstrom.
Bush was forced out at third on a fielders' choice, but Wagner came around to score all the way from first base on a wild throw by ECU third baseman Ashley Quick.
East Carolina takes the all-time series lead 6-5 and has won the last four meetings between the two schools ... The Cougars falls to 4-2 in Conference USA openers ... Today's loss snapped a string of three consecutive C-USA opener victories dating back to 2002 ... It was also the first time that the Cougars have played on March 11 in program history ... This was the first time that Houston has played at home since Feb. 25 ... The Cougars are 5-8 when the opposition scores first ... It was the second consecutive game that the Cougar pitching staff has allowed 10 or more hits ... Head coach Kyla Holas used her 24th different batting lineup in 28 games ... She moved Laurie Wagner back into the four spot and placed Angel Shamblin in the five hole ... Shamblin extended her hitting streak to a team-best seven games with a single in the third inning ... She has also hit safely in 11 of her last 13 games ... Candi Kloecker has been tagged with the loss in her last three appearances ... Brooke Johnson made her eight start of the season and has started in left field in three of the last four games ... With a walk, Johnson is six walks shy from becoming the fourth player in program history to reach 50 career walks ... Elaina Nordstrom ripped her second home run of the season in the second inning ... It was her first career homer at the Cougar Softball Stadium ... The LaPalma, Calif. native has reached base in 24 of 28 games ... Laura Durham added her eighth multi-hit game of the season, including three in her last four games ... Durham knocked her team-leading fifth home run of the season in the eighth inning ... Nine of the 12 home runs for Houston this season have been solo home runs ... It was the first time that the Cougars has knocked two homers in a game this season ... The Cougars were 11-5 in 2005 when blasting two or more long balls in a game ... Jessica Valis has registered a hit in eight of her last 10 games, including her last three contests ... It was her ninth hit of the season to reach the outfield and her second multi-RBI game ... With a strikeout in relief, Crystal Briscoe is 32 strikeouts away from reaching 350 career Ks ... Haley Valis has hit safely in five of her last seven appearances ... Christa Raley has drawn a walk in 16 of her last 24 games.