April 1, 2007
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HOUSTON - Amanda Grote belted a second-inning grand slam coupled with an Angel Shamblin three-hit shutout as the University of Houston softball team racked up a 6-0 victory over UAB Sunday afternoon in the series finale of a Conference USA weekend series televised by CSTV at the Cougar Softball Stadium.
Houston (30-11, 11-1 C-USA) won its 30th game for the sixth consecutive season and has now won 29 of its last 30 games against current non-ranked opponents.
"This was a big game for our program not only because it was on a national television stage but because it showed that we can follow up with a strong series after having a slip-up at Memphis last weekend," head coach Kyla Holas said. "I challenge the team before the game to have UAB play at our pace. We didn't do that yesterday but did an excellent job of setting the tempo today."
The Cougars opened the scoring, placing a four-spot on the board in the second inning. Laura Durham legged out an infield single before being forced out at second base on a Haley Valis bunt. Laurie Wagner and Shamblin drew back-to-back walks to load the bases.
Grote took a 1-0 offering over the centerfield fence for her first career Cougar home run to give Houston a 4-0 advantage.
"We've emphasized over the last couple of weeks of picking out good pitches to hit," Holas said. "Amanda had been more passive at the plate. I talked with her right before her at-bat about staying patient at the plate and picking out her pitch to hit."
"My goal at the plate was just to get a hard solid hit," Grote said. "I knew we had runners on, and I wanted to find a way to score them. Home runs come when you least expect to hit them."
That would be all of the run support that Shamblin would need in the circle. The junior right-hander established a program single season record, tossing her seventh shutout of the season en route to her 19th victory.
Shamblin (19-6) carried a perfect game into the fourth inning after setting the tone early with four strikeouts in her first five hitters faced. She recorded 11 strikeouts and didn't surrender a walk on 96 pitches.
A Lindsay Stanley infield single broke up the Florida natives bid at perfection in the fourth inning. The junior right-hander was touched for just three hits and is now 8-0 in C-USA action.
"It was difficult for Angel yesterday dealing with the rain delays and wet balls," Holas said. "She showed her best stuff today and came out clicking on all cylinders."
"I made some mistakes yesterday, but I was focused on pitching my game today," Shamblin said. "I had one inning where I allowed a couple of hits but battled back to get a strikeout to close the inning."
Haley Valis added a two-run blast in the third inning for the final margin of 6-0.
Jessica Valis and Elaina Nordstrom also added hits and are the only Cougars to hit safely in all 12 of UH's conference games. Valis' infield single in the first inning allowed her to pass Jaci Gonzalez (2003-06) for the No. 5 position on the program's career hits last.
Houston continues its Conference USA slate with a weekend series at UTEP. Friday's doubleheader against the Miners begins at 5pm followed by a Saturday single game at 1pm. All games of the UTEP series will have live stats via GameTracker on UHCougars.com
"UTEP is a big series," Holas said. "It's a short week of practice in addition to traveling before playing a doubleheader on Friday. We need to stay focused on controlling the things that we have control over."
"Our goal is to win a conference championship," Grote said. "We need to put in another solid week of practice to get closer to reaching our goal."
Game two of today's doubleheader is the 21st all-time meeting between Houston and UAB on the softball diamond ... The Cougars have won 15 of the 21 meetings and 11 of the 12 games played at the Cougar Softball Stadium in the series ... Houston also reached the 30-win plateau for the sixth consecutive season ... The only year the Cougars failed to win 30 games was the program's inaugural season in 2001 ... Houston has recorded a 9-0 mark on games played on Sunday ... The Cougars also improve to 18-0 this season when scoring four or more runs this season ... Houston has won 29 of its last 30 games against current non-ranked opponents ... 14 of Houston's last 16 home runs have produced multiple runs ... Houston improves to 24-6 when scoring first ... The Cougars also are 108-29 since the start of the 2004 season when scoring first ... Houston has won 35 of 47 games over the last two seasons when Jessica and Haley Valis are in the starting infield ... The Cougars are 23-6 in day games and improve to 11-3 when wearing blue jerseys and blue pants ... Houston has won 13 of 14 decisions this season when the game is decided by four or more runs ... Jessica Valis and Elaina Nordstrom have started in all 103 games of their careers ... Laura Durham also has played in all 103 games of her Houston career since transferring from Texas A&M ... Katie Bush has made 100 consecutive starts in centerfield ... Jessica Valis and Elaina Nordstrom are the only Cougars to hit safely in each of Houston's 12 conference games ... Valis has hit safely in 10 of her last 11 games ... With her infield singe in the first inning, Valis passed Jaci Gonzalez (2003-06) for the No. 5 spot in program history on the career hits list ... The Shiner native now has 124 hits and is 36 away from matching Jenilee Skender (2002-05) for the No. 4 slot ... It was only the second time in her last nine games that Katie Bush failed to produce a hit ... However, Bush her team-leading 12th sacrifice hit of the season in the first inning ... Elaina Nordstrom pushes her hitting streak to a season-best 11 games and has hit safely in 16 of her last 17 outings ... The California native moves to two hits away from reaching the 100-mark for her career ... It was just the fourth time in her last 10 outings that Christa Raley didn't notch a hit ... With a walk in the fifth inning, Raley has reached base in 26 of her last 29 games ... Laura Durham has popped a hit in five of her last eight games ... Haley Valis has scored a run in five of her last six games ... The Shiner native also has hit safely in 11 of her last 16 games ... Laurie Wagner had her hitting streak end at three games ... However, Wagner has reached base in eight of her last 10 games in addition to scoring a run in four of her last six games ... Amanda Grote has recorded hits in back-to-back games for the first time in her career ... The Brenham also cranked her first career home run which was a grand slam ... She also has scored a run and produced a RBI in each of her last two games ... Angel Shamblin added to her single season program record by picking up her 19th win in the circle ... She passed Candi Kloecker (2006) and Jamie Falco (2002) and set a program mark for shutouts in a single season ... It was the 46th win of her career and Shamblin is one win shy from matching Jenny Johnson and Jamie Falco for the No. 1 spot in program history ... With 11 strikeouts, the Florida native is now 65 Ks from matching Jenny Johnson for the top spot in program history ... She also is 24 strikeouts shy of 500 for her career ... Shamblin has recorded double-digit strikeouts in 11 of her 20 starts this season ... The junior right-hander also has allowed two or less earned runs in 24 of her last 27 starts dating back to last season.