May 10, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The University of Houston softball team advanced in the Conference USA Championships with a 6-2 win over No. 4 seeded UCF Thursday afternoon. Haley Outon improved on her school records with a three-run homer and Bailey Watts tossed the complete game to help Houston advance to the semifinals.
The Cougars (34-21) face Tulsa, the No. 1 seed, Friday at 2 p.m.
Outon, who went 2-for-3 with a sac bunt, delivered the three-run blow in the third inning to put Houston up 3-0. It was the 21st home run of the year and 61st RBI, both improving upon her school records. The long ball also extended her streak of five straight games with a home run.
The three-run bomb scored Ashleigh Jones and Melissa Gregson. Jones reached base on Houston's first hit of the game to left field and Gregson drew a four-pitch walk, one of two times she scored after drawing a walk in the game for the senior.
The Houston hitters took a patient batting approach facing Mackenzie Audas (21-19) drawing five walks from the C-USA Co-Pitcher of the Year. Kendra Cullum took a more direct approach by reaching first on a hit by a pitch.
Cullum set a school record with her 17th hit by a pitch of the season. The record-breaking total came on a 3-1 count in the fifth inning. It was the fifth-straight game she has been beaned and 10th free pass in the last 10 games for the sophomore.
Watts (15-8) controlled the game in the circle for the Cougars for the seventh-straight game in a row. The sophomore threw eight strike outs in the game, tying her second-highest total of the year that she matched for the third time. The West Columbia, Texas, native struck out the first two and last two batters of the game and never allowed more than one hit in an inning to pick up her 15th win of the year.
After receiving a reprieve with an illegal pitch called after a swing-and-miss on a third strike, Jennifer Hooker stroked a double to right center field and scored on Holly Anderson two-out single to give Houston an insurance run and 4-1 lead.
Houston added a two-spot in the fifth inning for their final total. Julia Pecina hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to score Reina Gaber who reached on a walk. Gregson scored earlier in the inning after swiping third with a steal and coming around to score on a wild pitch.
Houston faces the No. 1 seed Tulsa Golden Hurricane tomorrow May 11 at 2 p.m.