May 18, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Houston softball closed out the 2013 season with a 5-1 loss to the University of South Carolina in game five of the NCAA Regional Saturday, in Austin, Texas. Houston went 1-2 in the Austin Regional picking up a win over Army (7-5) while dropping both games it played against South Carolina. USC and Texas will meet tomorrow to decide who moves onto the Super Regionals.
"Only one team can end the season without a loss," said head coach Kyla Holas. "It's one of those things that is hard to take (right now), but we've got a great group returning and we're really excited for them. I'm really going to miss those seniors - Reina, Holly and Julia. They've been fantastic to work with and I'm disappointed for them that the season is ending today."
With the loss, Houston finished the season with a 41-20 overall record marking the fifth time in school history the team has reached the 40 win plateau.
"We still had another 40-plus win season with 20 losses or less. As long as we keep doing what we're known for and what we take pride in, hopefully this next class will be rewarded and go even farther. We'll build off this season and be better next year because of this."
Each team's starting pitchers cruised through the first two innings, with Houston finding home plate first. Katie St. Pierre reached on an error by the Gamecock pitcher following a Jamie Edwards leadoff single. A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position and junior>Kendra Cullum drove in Edwards on a sacrifice fly to left. The sacrifice for Cullum was her 23rd of the season which ranks third in the NCAA this year.
Starting pitcher>Bailey Watts (19-6) took a four-hit shutout into the fourth inning before USC found its stroke, scoring five runs in the frame with four coming unearned. Watts allowed nine hits and just one earned run in the losing effort.
USC would finally get to Watts in the fourth when a Houston error opened up the door for a big inning. Following a leadoff single, Houston committed a fielding error on a sacrifice bunt that put runners on the corners with nobody out. Another sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out, and Codee Yeske blooped a double into left to tie the game at one. South Carolina would go on to score four more unearned runs before the inning was over and took a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning.
Houston received a scoreless relief performance from freshman pitcher>Julana Shrum who went the final two innings without allowing a hit in her first ever appearance in the NCAA postseason.
South Carolina threatened in the third inning when it put runners on first and second with back-to-back two-out singles. The Gamecock's five-hole hitter, Chelsea Hawkins, drove a ball into deep center, but St. Pierre tracked it down and made a nifty over the shoulder catch to end the scoring threat.
The Outon twins lead the way for Houston hitters on the day.>Haley Outon continued her hot-hitting day with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate and went 4-for-7 in both games throughout the day. Combined with her sister Diedre, the twins batted 6-for-14 on Saturday.
The Cougar bats would struggle to wake up for the remainder of the ballgame. Houston collected just two hits and three base runners over the last four innings of the game and would finish the contest a combined 0-for-7 with one RBI while batting with runners in scoring position.