March 20, 2006
TULSA, Okla - Down to its final three outs and facing a sweep, the University of Houston softball team rallied with three runs in the seventh inning and held on to a 5-4 victory over Tulsa in the final game of Conference USA series Monday at the Donna J. Hardesty Softball Complex.
"I'm happy that the team was able to rally in that situation, but overall we're still extremely disappointed losing this series," head coach Kyla Holas said. "There is a point in conference where we have started the second part of our season not with the same fire and intensity that got us 10-1 out of the gate. We have to wake up out of this funk that we're in and respond knowing that there's no more room for error if we want to get back into the conference championship race."
"We felt that we should have dominated this series," Wagner said. "After losing the first two games, we knew that our backs were up against the wall and that we needed to get one win in this series."
Down 3-2 entering the seventh inning, Jessica Valis and Katie Bush fueled the Cougar rally by reaching on a pair of singles to start the frame. Elaina Nordstrom platted Valis with a RBI-single to even the score at 3-3 putting runners on the corners with one out.
Haley Valis grounded out to third base allowing pinch-runner Christa Raley to move into scoring position. Wagner took the first pitch up the middle past a diving Angela Osborn at second base to score Bush and Raley moving the Cougars ahead 5-3.
"Usually I like to hit inside pitches, but coach (Holas) tells you in that situation with runners on second and third, you have to hit behind the runners," Wagner said. "She also tells us to go after the first strike because if you don't you let the pitcher dictate the tempo."
Tulsa (18-10, 5-1 C-USA) responded with a Sara Dyer home run to draw within 5-4 in the home half of the seventh.
Kelli McGlasson drew a two-out walk, but Carla Kennimer struck out Jessica Barr to secure the victory for Houston (21-12, 3-3 C-USA). Kennimer improved to 4-1 pitching the final 1.1 innings in relief.
The Golden Hurricane grabbed a 3-2 advantage in the sixth inning as Osbon and Lindsey Tower struck together a pair of doubles to chase Houston starter Angel Shamblin from the game.
"On offense we outhit our opponent in all three games this weekend and should be winning games when we do stuff like that," Holas said. "Our pitching has got to step up and regain the dominance it had earlier in the season."
Laura Durham opened the scoring in the second inning cranking a solo home run to left centerfield giving the Cougars the early 1-0 advantage. It was Durham's team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Elaina Nordstrom ripped a solo shot of her own to left field in the third inning pushing the lead to 2-0.
Durham finished the game 2-for-3, while Nordstrom went 3-for-4 at the plate for the victors. The three hits for Nordstrom match a career-high.
Tulsa charged back with a Julie Shafer homer in the home half of the third, while Kelly Miller knocked a RBI-double in the fourth to even the score at 2-2.
The Cougars continue C-USA play with a three-game set at UCF (13-20, 0-6 C-USA) next weekend. Saturday's doubleheader and Sunday's single-game have first pitch set for 12pm CST. All the action from Orlando will have live stats on UHCougars.com.
"We felt that we've let some games get away from us early in conference," Wagner said. "It's very important that we make a statement next weekend at UCF and get ourselves back into the race for the conference title."
"We know that UCF at 0-6 is going to play hard," Holas said. "At 3-3, we have to respond and be just as desperate. If you want to win a conference championship, we have to string together some wins and pick up some sweeps."
Fans who have purchased the CSTV All-Access package can click on the listen live link on UHCougars.com to access a live web broadcast from the UCF ISP Sports Network.
Houston improves 1-2 all-time against Tulsa and to 6-3 against first-time opponents this season... Head coach Kyla Holas has used 29 different batting orders in 33 games ... Haley Valis made her debut in the cleanup slot, while Laurie Wagner moved to the No. 5 slot in the lineup ... Houston snapped a two-game losing streak and has now won 16 of 20 contests when outhitting the opposition ... The Cougars also improve to 16-3 when scoring first ... Houston has won eight of nine games when picking up 10 or more hits in a game ... Katie Bush, Jaci Gonzalez and Elaina Nordstrom were the only Cougars to hit safely in all three games this weekend ... Laura Durham knocked her team-leading sixth home run and added her team-best 22nd RBI in the second inning ... Elaina Nordstrom home run tacked on her third homer of the season in the third inning ... 14 of the 18 home runs for the Cougars this season have been solo blasts ... Nordstrom racked up her fifth multi-hit game and has totaled three hits in four of those five games ... In the process, the LaPalma, Calif. native joins Laura Durham as the only Cougars to reach 20 RBIs and joins Jessica Valis as the only Cougar with 35 hits on the season ... Durham added her ninth multi-hit game ... Jessica Valis had her streak of five consecutive C-USA games with a walk snapped ... Valis has scored a run in 18 of her last 28 games ... Haley Valis has notched a hit in nine of her last 12 appearances ... Courtney Spittler made her ninth appearance this season as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning.