May 5, 2013
HOUSTON - The University of Houston softball team dropped a 7-3 decision to UAB on Sunday at Cougar Softball Stadium. With the win, UAB (36-15, 19-4) claimed the Conference USA regular season crown with Houston (37-17, 19-5) finishing a half a game behind the Blazers in second place.
Houston will enter the Conference USA Championships (May 9-11) as the No. 2 seed and face Memphis with the game time TBA. Despite dropping the Sunday matchup, Houston took the series 2-1 over the league leader and dropped only a single conference series all year.
"I'm glad of the softball we're playing heading into the post season," said head coach Kyla Holas. "This is just the beginning and that's one of the things we told this team. All the pieces are coming together, we're playing better defense, our offense is coming around and our pitching has been more consistent."
Both teams put a run on the board in the first inning to get the game started. Houston's Kendra Cullum was plunked by her NCAA-leading 32nd hit by pitch in her first at bat and advanced to second on Holly Anderson's fielder's choice. Haley Outon brought home the tying run by launching a single off the UAB's shortstop to score Cullum from second.
Things got away from the home team in the third inning as UAB used three extra base hits including back-to-back home runs to break open the tie. With four runs scored in the frame. Diedre Outon (10-6) started the inning and after giving up a two-run homer, freshman Julana Shrum entered in relief. Shrum surrendered a solo home run and a single to the first two batters she faced before getting out of the frame with UH trailing 5-1.
After UAB added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning, a late Cougar rally brought the final score to 7-3. Leadoff singles senior by Reina Gaber (2-for-3) and Diedre Outon (1-for-3) gave the Cougars life in the final inning. Julia Pecina doubled to right center scoring pinch runner Jennifer Hooker with Outon being tagged out at home on the play. The next batter, Katie St. Pierre singled to score Pecina from second to give the final tally.
Houston hosts Mississippi State on Monday at 6 p.m. before heading to Tulsa for the Conference USA Championships May 9-11. Houston faces Memphis in the first round of the championships.