Jan. 23, 2013
HOUSTON - Junior catcher Haley Outon has been named the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year and the University of Houston softball team was picked to finish second in conference, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm excited for Haley," said head coach Kyla Holas. "She had a really great season last year and it's going to be exciting seeing what she can do this season. With accolades such as that one (C-USA Preseason Player of the Year), sometimes you put pressure on yourself but its going to be fun watching her handle it all."
Outon led the Houston hitters last year in home runs (22) RBI (64), batting average (.368) while finishing sixth in the NCAA in home runs per game. She also tied an NCAA record by hitting a home run in six consecutive games en route to being named an Honorable Mention All-American by the NFCA.
Seniors Holly Anderson (IF) and Reina Gaber (DP) join Outon on the Preseason First Team giving the Cougars three selections, the second most in the league. Anderson and Outon were both named to the 2011 All-Conference First Team.
Anderson, who started all 59 games at third base last year, finished second on the squad with in the triple crown categories (.365, 10 HR, 43 RBI) and stole 19 bases. She was also a NFCA All-Region Selection.
Gaber, a Whittier, Calif. native, carries a career .321 batting average into her senior season, ranking No. 5 all-time in the Houston record books. Gaber started nine games at DP bookending the season with 50 consecutive starts at right field.
The Houston softball team was picked to finish second in conference behind last year's champions Tulsa, receiving one vote to the Golden Hurricane's six first-place tallies. UCF, UAB, Marshall, East Carolina, Memphis, Southern Miss and UTEP round out the rest of the picks.
"Tulsa returns a great team and they're going to be a challenge for that top spot. There's so much that happens during the season that while we're honored to be thought of this highly among our conference teams, we're just going to let it all play out on the field and worry about what happens then. We're just looking forward to having a good year and getting the season underway."
Houston is also receiving votes (3) in the NFCA Top 25 poll which was released Tuesday.
Houston continues their preseason practice with first pitch against Texas State Feb. 8 as the Cougars host the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.
2013 C-USA Preseason Poll (1st place votes)
1. Tulsa (6)
2. Houston (1)
6. East Carolina (1)
7. Memphis (1)
8. Southern Miss
2013 All-Conference USA Preseason Softball Team
P Lacey Middlebrooks, Tulsa, Sr., Wake Village, Texas
P Mackenzie Audas, UCF, So., Plant City, Fla.
C Haley Outon, Houston, Jr., Pflugerville, Texas
IF Samantha Cobb, Tulsa, Sr., Garland, Texas
IF Jill Barrett, Tulsa, Jr., Greenwood, Ark.
IF Holly Anderson, Houston, Sr., Dickinson, Texas
IF Laura Curtis, Memphis, Sr., Chattanooga, Tenn.
IF Farrah Sullivan, UCF, So., Waynesboro, Miss.
IF Jazmine Valle, Marshall, Sr., Lake Elsinore, Calif.
OF Caitlin Everett, Tulsa, Sr., Forney, Texas
OF Whitney Fletcher, UAB, Sr., Decatur, Ala.
OF Jill Jelnick, East Carolina, Jr., Aliso Viejo, Calif.
OF Kahley Novak, UCF, So., Clermont, Fla.
UT Kristen McGrath, UAB, Jr., Tampa, Fla.
DP Reina Gaber, Houston, Sr., Whittier, Calif.
Preseason Player of the Year: Haley Outon, Houston, Jr., Pflugerville, Texas
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Lacey Middlebrooks, Tulsa, Sr., Wake Village, Texas