May 18, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Houston softball team fought off a pair of late-inning rallies and defeated Army 7-5 in an elimination game at the NCAA Regionals in Austin, Texas on Saturday.
The Cougars used six extra base hits and junior>Bailey Watts pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth inning to ultimately seal the game for Houston and fight off elimination.
Houston wasted no time getting on the scoreboard early in the game. Freshman>Katie St. Pierre and junior Kendra Cullum led off the game with back-to-back hit by pitches, and senior Holly Anderson drove in the game's first run on a double to left-center field. For Anderson, her double gave her a team season-record 16 doubles for the year moving her past Kristen Glowacz (2004).
>Summer Groholski made the first postseason start of her career and cruised through the first two innings allowing no hits and just two base runners heading into the third.
The Cougar bats would stay hot in the third inning when the Cougars would score two more runs to pad the lead. Following a one-out walk to Anderson, junior>Haley Outon drove a double off the wall in right to put runners on first and second. Houston then got a sac fly from Kayla Holland and an RBI single from>Diedre Outon to make the score 3-0.
Army would answer in the bottom half of the inning with four runs of their own to take the lead. An error on the infield would open up the door for the Knights to bat around in the inning and catcher Rae Anne Payleitner drove a single to drive in the go ahead run.
Houston loaded the bases again in the fourth inning without getting a ball out of the infield on two walks and a single to shortstop. The next batter, Anderson, ripped a line drive down the third base line, but the Black Knight third bagger made a nifty back-handed stop, stepped on the bag, and threw to first to end the Cougars threat.
UH reclaimed the lead in the fifth with a flurry of extra base hits including their first long ball of the tournament.>Haley Outon led off the inning and drilled a 1-0 pitch into the parking lot in left-center field for her second extra-base hit of the game and 16th home run of the season. Holland followed with a double of her own and was driven in with a single by Jamie Edwards.>Julia Pecina followed with an RBI triple, and St. Pierre drove her in with her second infield single of the game to give Houston a 7-4 lead.
Army would add another run in the bottom half of the fifth after a 1-out double and a wild pitch put a Black Knight runner at third base. An error on a ground ball would allow the run to score and make the score 7-5, but>Diedre Outon was able to pitch her way out of the inning without allowing another run.
Army loaded the bases on three singles to lead off their half of the sixth inning with the latter two not even leading the infield. Watts came on to relieve Outon and quickly disposed of the first two hitters on back-to-back strikeouts. Watts fell behind in the count to the four-hole hitter Reynolds who lined the 3-1 pitch into left, but it was right at Pecina who made the play to end the inning.
Watts again worked out of trouble after allowing a pair of singles and getting into a 1-out first and third jam. Watts would settle down to register a strikeout and a ground-out to nail down her second save of the season.
>Diedre Outon (13-8) picked up the win in relief for the Cougars after throwing 2.2 innings while allowing just one run on five hits and one walk while registering three strikeouts.
Cullum was hit by two pitches in the game extending her school single-season record to 38 and 65 for her career, and putting her just two back from second all-time in NCAA History (Mariah Gearhart, 92 and Myesha Finney, 67). The multi-HBP game marks the 11th time this season that Cullum has been hit multiple times.
St. Pierre went 3-for-4 in the game with three infield singles and a hit by pitch to extend her hitting streak to a team high eight games to help the Cougars improve to 2-3 all-time in NCAA Regional elimination games.
Houston advances to face South Carolina in another elimination game at 5 p.m., Saturday May 18 on ESPN3.