March 1, 2012
HOUSTON - The University of Houston softball team continues their tournament season this weekend at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas. The Cougars (9-5) will play five games over three days beginning on Friday.
All three opponents the Cougars will face this weekend advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year as this will be Houston's toughest tournament of the year. Houston opens the tournament with Texas State (8-9) at 10 a.m. before playing No. 24 Nebraska (9-7) immediately afterwards. The Cougars and Bobcats square off again on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. and then Houston faces the No. 21 (10-6) Aggies. Houston and Texas A&M will play again on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Facing two teams ranked in the Top 25 will give Houston the chance to make up some lost ground after last weekend. The Cougars fell out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time this year after posting a 2-3 record last weekend at the Gaucho Classic hosted by the University of California Santa Barbara. Houston is still receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll and sits at the No. 28 position.
LAST TIME OUT
The Cougars were their own worst enemies as they committed ten errors in the opening day of play, dropping both contests to UCSB. Houston entered the day with ten errors on the season through nine games. They committed a season-high of seven errors in the second game to allow four unearned runs to score and give the Gauchos a 6-1 win.
The Cougars rebounded on the final day sweeping the Nevada schools (W, 11-7 vs. UNLV; W, 2-1 vs. Nevada). Against UNLV, Houston posted a school record with seven stolen bases as Ashleigh Jones (2), Holly Anderson, Reina Gaber, Jennifer Klinkert, Melissa Gregson and Sydney Gerbracht combined to set the record. To go along with the blitz on the base paths, the Houston hitters led a barrage of 18 hits to score 11 runs in Houston's most dominant offensive performance this year.
The Houston offense leads C-USA in nine offensive categories including batting average (.353), slugging (.519), on base (.412), hits (130), runs (86) RBIs (79), doubles (24) and total bases (191).
Leading the Houston and C-USA hitters is junior Reina Gaber who carries a .535/.553/.651 batting average/on base/slugging slash line.
Houston has also allowed the fewest runs (42) this season of any C-USA team.
NEED FOR SPEED
Houston went 33-for-51 in stolen bases last year, an area head coach Kyla Holas emphasized all offseason as an area for improvement. Through 14 games this year, the Cougars are 37-for-40 in steals led by Ashleigh Jones (10-for-10) and the junior is tied for the lead in C-USA. As a team, the Cougars are second in the league. The team record for stolen bases in a season is 74 (2008).
Against UNLV, the Cougars went 7-for-7 in steals as Ashleigh Jones (2), Holly Anderson, Reina Gaber, Jennifer Klinkert, Melissa Gregson and Sydney Gerbracht combined to set the program record for stolen bases in a game.
Melissa Gregson needs to replicate her 2011 home run total of 16 to become Houston's all-time leader in home runs (Kristen Glowacz, 2002-05; 47). Gregson hit eight both her freshman and sophomore years before belting a team-leading 16 in 2011 to combine for 32 in her first three years. Jennifer Klinkert also has a shot at the mark as Gregson's roommate has 34 in her career.
Bailey Watts pitched her second career no hitter as the Cougars defeated ULM 9-0 on Feb. 18. Watts faced 19 batters and posted six strikeouts over the five innings of work.
Watts last no-hitter was April 10, 2010 against Memphis.
Head coach Kyla Holas earned career and program win No. 400 on the 2012 opening day. Holas is in her 12th year as the only head coach in Houston history,
For the second year in a row, the Cougars posted a program best team GPA (3.54) during the fall semester of 2011. Eleven members of the program were named to the Dean's List.
ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM MEMBERS
The Cougars lost eight letterwinners from last year's squad so a youth movement was expected for 2012. Leading the way for the newcomers are a number of student-athletes who produced big their first year on campus. Seven of Houston's starters (Reina Gaber, Melissa Gregson, Ashleigh Jones, Jennifer Klinkert, Diedre and Haley Outon) were named to the C-USA All-Freshman team in their rookie campaigns.
Redshirt freshman Sydney Gerbracht has been one of the Cougars top pinch hitters all season and against UNT (Feb. 12) delivered her first career home run ... Jamie Edwards hit her first career home run in a grand performance with a grand slam against ULM (Feb. 19).