May 12, 2006
TULSA, Okla. - Laura Durham, Laurie Wagner and Jaci Gonzalez each tallied multiple RBIs as the third-seeded University of Houston softball team staved off elimination with a 7-1 victory over sixth-seeded Southern Miss Friday evening at the Conference USA Championship on the Tulsa campus.
"This was a sweet one," head coach Kyla Holas said. "We have a big rivalry with Southern Miss, so every time we play them it's a real emotional battle for both teams."
Houston (40-22) set a new program single-season record picking up its 40th victory of the season and advanced to face top-seeded Tulsa (32-22) Saturday at 10:30pm in another elimination game. The winner of that contest will face Marshall for the C-USA Championship at 2:30pm live on CSTV.
It is also the third consecutive season that the Cougars have made it to the final day of the C-USA Championship.
For the second consecutive elimination contest, Houston never trailed as Candi Kloecker and Crystal Briscoe combined on a one-hitter. Kloecker fired six strong innings of one-hit ball to improve to 10-9 on the season, while Briscoe closed the game out in style with two strikeouts in the seventh inning.
The Cougars scored a pair of runs in the second inning, loading the bases via a Laura Durham walk and two singles off the bats of Laurie Wagner and Jamie Adams. Jaci Gonzalez squirted a dribbler through the right side platting Durham and Wagner giving Houston a 2-0 advantage.
Southern Miss trimmed the deficit down to 2-1 on an Allison Bullard squeeze bunt in the home-half of the inning, but the Cougars charged back with another pair of runs in the third inning, capitalizing on four consecutive walks by USM starter Lacy Gros to force in a run and chasing Gros from the game. She fell to 14-20 on the season.
The Cougars finished the contest with some offensive fireworks in the fifth inning as Durham and Wagner provided back-to-back home runs for the final margin of 7-1.
At the end of day two of the C-USA Championship, Gonzalez and Durham are tied with a championship-high four RBIs through the championship's first eight games.
Houston will face off with Tulsa in another elimination game at the Donna J. Hardesty Softball Complex. First pitch against the Golden Hurricane is set for 10:30am. Live stats will be available on UHCougars.com
Even though the 2006 Conference USA Championship is the fourth consecutive year that Houston and Southern Miss have met, this is the first time that the two teams have met in the C-USA Championship twice in the same year ... The Cougars improve to 15-11 all-time and to 3-2 against Southern Miss in the C-USA Championship ... It's the third consecutive season that Houston has made it to the final day of the C-USA Championship ... The Cougars set a new program single-season record picking up its 40th win of the season ... All nine Houston starters reached base for the second consecutive game ... The Cougars have won 30 of 36 games this season when scoring first ... Over the last three seasons, the Cougars are 85-23 when denting the scoreboard first ... Houston is now 18-9 when wearing blue jerseys and blue pants ... Thirty-six of Houston's 40 wins this season have come when the Cougars have scored more than three runs ... The Cougars are also 30-3 when holding the opposition to two runs or less ... With four strikeouts, Candi Kloecker is now three Ks shy of matching Jenny Johnson's 129 for sixth place on the program single-season list ... Kloecker is the second Houston hurler to reach double-digit wins ... It's the fifth consecutive season that the Cougars have had two pitchers compile double-digit wins ... Jessica Valis and Elaina Nordstrom are the only Houston players to start in all 62 games ... Christa Raley has hit safely in her last four games ... Raley has also registered a hit in four of five games this season against Southern Miss ... Laura Durham notched her ninth multi-RBI game ... Laurie Wagner added her 11th multi-hit game of the season ... Fourteen of Wagner's 24 RBIs have come against C-USA opponents ... Wagner is the seventh Cougar to reach the 35-hit plateau on the season .... Jamie Adams has hit safely in team-best five consecutive games ... Adams has hit safely in 13 of 19 games she has played in against C-USA opponents ... Durham and Wagner hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning ... It's the third time this season that the Cougars have hit back-to-back rountrippers ... The Cougars improve to 20-8 when hitting a homer and have four of six games when knocking multiple longballs ... With a single in the second inning, Jaci Gonzalez has reached base in 30 of 42 games when in the batting lineup, including 16 of her last 20 outings ... Gonzalez added her second consecutive and fifth multi-RBI game of the season.