HOUSTON -- Winners of nine straight, the University of Houston Softball team returns home to host the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic across March 9-11 at Cougar Softball Stadium. The Cougars will host Iowa State, Lipscomb, Northwestern and Penn State across the three-day tournament.
|HOUSTON HILTON PLAZA CLASSIC|
Friday, March 9
| 10 a.m. | Northwestern vs. Iowa State |
12:30 p.m. | Lipscomb vs. Iowa State |
3 p.m. | Penn State vs. Northwestern |
5:30 p.m. | Lipscomb at Houston | |
Saturday, March 10
Sunday, March 11
For the tournament, each day has its own ticket, and that ticket will get you into all of the games on that particular day. For example, a ticket purchased on Friday is good for every game on that day. In addition, Friday is Military Appreciation Day. Fans who present their military ID will get $3 tickets for all members in that party. Saturday is "Superhero Day" and will feature free superhero cape giveaways, while Sunday will feature a group price for faculty/staff.
Houston, who enters the weekend with a 13-4 record, is coming off a 2-0 shutout at Texas Southern on Wednesday. Junior Savannah Heebner carried a perfect game through five and two-thirds innings and ended up tossing a one-hitter while recording a career-high 12 strikeouts. The victory marked the Cougars' ninth straight, the longest win streak for the program since winning eight in a row in 2017.
As an offense, the Cougars are outscoring their opponents 74-27 on the season. Through eight games at home, Houston has scored 39 runs to its opponents' 3.
At Cougar Softball Stadium, Houston has authored an 8-0 record, sweeping through two host tournaments. The Cougars went 4-0 in the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational with wins over Yale, Syracuse, UNLV and UTSA to open its home schedule and followed with a pair of wins over Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Houston Red & White Showcase last weekend. Houston's 8-0 start at Cougar Softball Stadium is the program's best home start since 2008.
Entering the weekend, sophomore third baseman Sarah Queen ranks second in The American in batting average (.431), while James (fourth, .407) ranks fourth. James (.500) and senior left fielder Kaylin Crumpton (.500) are tied for second in the conference in on-base percentage. The pair also rank first and third in hit by pitch with Crumpton (6) taking top honors and James (4) sitting third.
In the circle, Savannah Heebner (0.92), Trystan Melancon (1.17) and Presley Bell (1.21) rank first, fourth and fifth in The American in ERA, respectively. The trio also ranks in the top five in opponent batting average with Bell (.183) leading all pitchers and Heebner (.192) and Melancon (.209) ranking second and fifth, respectively. Heebner is tied for second in the conference with seven wins.
As a team, Houston leads The American in batting average (.317), on-base percentage (.382) and hit by pitch (16), ranking third in slugging percentage (.418) and hits (147). As a staff, the Cougars rank second in ERA (1.07), a mark that sits ninth in the NCAA. Houston leads the league in opponent batting average (.195), allowing the fewest runs scored (27), hits (84) and walks (21) amongst conference members.
Entering Week 5 of the regular season, Houston is receiving three votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Cougars were previously receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, garnering seven votes in Week 2 and two votes in Week 3.
In the Houston Red & White Showcase, sophomore second baseman Arielle James led the Cougars with a .462 average, going 6-for-13 with one home run, three RBI and four runs scored. For her efforts, she was named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll for a second consecutive week.
On Saturday against TAMU-CC, junior Presley Bell carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and ended the game allowing just two hits while striking out a career-high six batters and issuing no walks. She also logged a scoreless inning of relief against the Islanders on Sunday. For her efforts, she was also named to The American Weekly Honor Roll.
The Last Meeting
February 26, 2017
Palm Springs, Calif.
The Last Meeting
February 19, 2016
Cougar Softball Stadium
ON THE TOURNAMENT FIELD
Houston is 9-5 all-time against the tournament field. The Cougars are 6-1 all-time against Iowa State, 3-2 against Lipscomb and 0-2 against Northwestern. Houston and Penn State have never met on the diamond.
The Lady Bisons enter the weekend with an 11-4 record.
Lipscomb is coming off a 2-2 weekend at its host Purple/Gold Challenge, but opened the season on a five-game win streak, highlighted by wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia, as well as a no-hitter against then No. 14/15 Ole Miss.
Lipscomb, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, owns a .271 team batting average and 1.49 team ERA.
Mandy Jordan is 7-0 and ranks second in the conference with a 1.09 ERA, while Caitlin Turner leads the team with a .333 batting average.
The Lady Bisons are led by Head Coach Kristin Ryman, who owns a 402-272-1 in her 13th season at the helm.
The Cyclones enter the weekend with a 10-10 record and are coming off a 2-3 showing at the Osprey Classic in Jacksonville, Fla.
As a team, ISU is batting .237 and holds a 3.25 ERA.
Sami Williams leads the team with a .338 average. In the circle, Brianna Weilbacher is 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA.
ISU, a member of the Big 12, is under the direction of first-year Head Coach Jamie Pinkerton. He previously served as the head coach at Tulsa (2001-04), Arkansas (2005-09) and Montana (2015-17), and has a 359-381 career record to date.
The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 10-8 record and are coming off a 3-2 showing at the Husky Classic in Seattle, highlighted by a 4-0 shutout of No. 11/11 Alabama on Sunday.
As a team, Northwestern is batting .258 and holds a 3.39 ERA in the circle.
Sabrina Rabin leads the team with a .338 batting average, while Morgan Newport anchors the staff with a 4-2 record and 1.87 ERA.
The Wildcats are coached by Head Coach Kate Drohan, who is 542-334-1 in her 17th season at the helm.
Houston and Northwestern met let season at the Mary Nutter Classic with the Wildcats prevailing 3-1.
The Nittany Lions enter the weekend with a 1-12 record. Their lone win came in a 4-2 decision at Jacksonville.
As a team, PSU is batting .203 and owns a 4.64 ERA.
Tori Dubois is the team's leading hitter with a .341 average.
The Nittany Lions are under the direction of fifth-year Head Coach Amanda Lehotak. She previously served as the head coach at Jacksonville (2007-11) and UTSA (2012-13) prior to taking over at PSU. Houston pitching coach Megan Gibson-Loftin served in assistant coaching roles with Lehotak at both UTSA and PSU.
After the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic, the Cougars will make a Tuesday trip out to No. 25/-- McNeese. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
COUGAR SOFTBALL STADIUM UPGRADES
Thanks to a record year for the Diamond Club, Houston Softball announced the addition of an LED, Daktronics video board (completed) and indoor practice facility as major upgrades to Cougar Softball Stadium.
According to Daktronics, the new outfield video board will be the fifth largest at an on-campus softball stadium in the country and the largest in the state of Texas. The board, which will sit just beyond the left-field wall, will stand 29-feet-3.1-inches tall and measure 24-feet-4.0-inches wide with 576 square feet of space (24-feet by 24-feet) for live video, instant replays, statistics and scoring information, graphics and animations, and sponsor messages. The display features a 13HD pixel layout for crisp, clear imagery for a great view from every seat at the stadium.
The indoor facility, which will replace the current batting cage down the right-field line, will measure 70-feet by 80-feet. The 5,600-square-foot space will feature five batting cages, measuring 60-feet long by 15-feet wide each, with retractable nets for the space to be used in a variety of ways. The facility will have a synthetic turf floor and will be temperature controlled.
In total, the two capital projects represent $1.2 million in upgrades.
The Houston Athletics Ticket Office is once again proud to offer the Shasta Pass for the 2017-18 season. For just $80, Cougar fans can purchase one Shasta Pass, which allows season-long general admission entrance to all Houston Volleyball, Soccer, Women's Basketball and Softball home games.
The Shasta Pass offers Houston fans a substantial saving as single-game tickets start at $5 for all four sports. To purchase a Shasta Pass, call 713-GO-COOGS or CLICK HERE.
JOIN DIAMOND CLUB
Fans can help support the Houston Softball program by joining the Diamond Club. To find out more information about the Diamond Club, visit UHCougars.com or call Cougar Pride at (713) 743-GoUH. For more information, CLICK HERE.