March 22, 2013
HOUSTON - The University of Houston softball team heads to East Carolina to take on the Pirates in a Conference USA Series this weekend. The Cougars (16-9, 5-1) and Pirates (9-17, 1-2) will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. with a single game on Sunday at noon (CST).
LAST TIME OUT
The Cougars fell 5-4 at Sam Houston State on Wednesday despite hitting a season high of three home runs in the loss at Huntsville. Haley Outon
launched the first homer to put UH up 2-0 and Holly Anderson
and Jennifer Hooker
tacked on solo home runs but the home Bearkats rallied to win 5-4. The previous weekend, Houston took the series from UCF two games to one to start 5-1 in Conference USA, their fourth best start in program history.
Houston leads the league in doubles (37), on base percentage (.378) and ranks No. 3 in ERA (2.28) and No. 4 in batting average (.274).
Houston has three batters in the top nine for batting average led by Holly Anderson (.395) who ranks No. 3 in C-USA, followed by freshman Katie St. Pierre (.355) and Haley Outon (.351) at No. 8 and 9. Outon leads the conference in slugging (.789), on base percentage (.540), walks (24) and is tied for the lead in home runs (7). Kendra Cullum paces the league in hit by pitches (10) and sac bunts (10).
The Cougars have a pair of batters in the NCAA Top 15 in free passes - Outon is No. 10 in walks per game (0.96) and Cullum ranks No. 13 in the NCAA in hit by pitches per game (0.41).
ON THE COMPETITION
ECU is returning home for their first game at home in 17 days over a stretch that saw them play 13 games. The Pirates (9-17, 1-2) are currently tied for seventh in the league and were picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll.
Kristi Oshiro steers the Pirates offensive efforts with a .421 batting average, good for first among C-USA. Oshiro also leads the team in doubles, triples, runs and ranks first in total bases in conference as well. Jordan Lewis (.343) and Alex Fieldhouse (.315) are the only other batters above .300 and Fieldhouse has tacked on five home runs and 19 RBI for the team lead in both categories.
Sarah Christian leads ECU in the circle in almost every category and is sporting a 3.00 ERA with a 7-8 record. Two other hurlers, Mary Beth Smith and Courtney Smith, possess sub 4.00 ERA and have thrown the 71 innings to Christian's 88.2.
Houston leads the all-time series 24-14 and have won eight of the 11 season series against the Pirates. The Cougars took the season series last year winning the first game 13-5 which was televised on FOX Sports. Sophomore Jaime Edwards
hit a grand slam in the second game of the day to help give UH the 6-2 win before ECU rebounded and took Sunday's game 6-7.
Senior Reina Gaber is batting .432 (16-for-37) in her career against ECU and has totaled nine RBI over her 11 games against the Pirates.
has earned the win in her last five straight starts dating back to the away game at Oklahoma State (March 2). Over the last six games, Watts is 5-0 with a 1.18 ERA over 35.2 innings. She has struck out 32 batters during the span, including 11 against UCF to tie her career high in a game.
Five position starters, all four pitchers and 14 letterwinners return the majority of production from last year's 35-24 (15-9 C-USA) team. Five newcomers join preseason Conference USA Player of the Year Haley Outon
and First Team preseason selections seniors Holly Anderson
and Reina Gaber
The junior Outon led the team in batting last year en route to establishing new school records in the home run (22) and RBI categories. The trio combined for a .360 batting average, 188 hits and 133 RBI in 2012.
Freshman Jaime Edwards made the C-USA All-Freshman team batting .325 with and RBI every five at bats before her rookie campaign was cut short with an injury. The native of Austin (Texas) returns healthy and rejoins fellow infielder Kendra Cullum who made 51 starts at shortstop in her first year with the program. Cullum's claim to fame in 2012 came the hard way as the Conroe (Texas) native took first base care of the bean ball 21 times to set a school record.
Junior Bailey Watts, a 2010 C-USA All-Freshman selection, leads Houston in the pitching circle bolstered by a young but experienced pitching crew including junior Diedre Outon, sophomores Summer Groholski and Ty'ara Law. The group threw every pitch last year and welcome freshman Julana Shrum to the mix.
Mizzou transfer and Pearland (Texas) native Taylor Duplechain, freshman Katie St. Pierre (Flower Mound, Texas), Jessica Snyder (The Woodlands, Texas) Tess Soefje (Frisco, Texas) are set to earn their first UH letters this year.
2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List
was one of 50 student-athletes named to the ASA/USA Softball watch list for Player of the Year honors. The Pflugerville (Texas) native was one of four catchers and the only player from C-USA named to the watch list.
Head coach Kyla Holas
embarks in her 13th season at the UH helm. As the sole coach in program history, she has guided Houston to the NCAA postseason once in the program program's first, to becoming a fixture with four NCAA Regional appearances, and two Super Regional series, over the past six years.
Last year slugger Haley Outon
received 14 bases on balls in 174 at bats while hitting 22 home runs (1 HR per 8 AB). This year, pitchers have steered clear of the cleanup hitter, giving out 24 walks in her first 57 at bats (1 HR per 9 AB) including 12 intentional walks over the first two weeks of conference play. Outon ranks No. 10 in the NCAA in walks per game (0.96).
START ME UP
(C), Katie St. Pierre
(CF), Reina Gaber
(RF) and Holly Anderson
(3B/2B) have started every game for Houston, with Anderson picking up a pair of starts at 2B to begin the year. They are the only three to start every game. Outon and Anderson logged every inning at their positions at catcher and third base last year and were the only players on the team to do so.
The current class of Houston Cougar softball members has increased the team's record GPA each semester since they arrive to campus and the incoming freshman class in the fall only added to that. Thirteen teammates made school honor roll while the team posted a 3.43 cumulative GPA and a 3.59 semester average.
Houston was bestowed with the 2012 Conference USA Sport Academic Award for the highest GPA in the conference as 18 members of the team made Commissioner's Honor Roll.
HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT (FIRE AWAY)
Walking up to the plate to Pat Benetar last season, Kendra Cullum
set a school record by being hit by a pitch 21 times. Cullum racked up the bean balls late in the year, getting plunked 14 times in the final 14 games, including four in an NCAA Regional game vs. Northwestern. This year, the two-hole hitter has been hit 10 in 23 games.