April 13, 2012
The University of Houston softball program returns to Conference USA action this weekend as the East Carolina Pirates (16-23, 4-8) come to town for a three-game series. Saturday's doubleheader starts at 2 p.m. with the first game being broadcast nationally on the FOX Sports Network. Sunday's finale starts at noon.
The Cougars (24-15, 9-3) have won 14 of their last 16 games to sit in a tie for second place in the league standings with UCF and UAB.
Houston holds the 22-13 lead in the all-time series and have won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams. Last year, all four games were played in Greenville, North Carolina, as the Cougars swept the Pirates in the regular season series before falling 1-0 in the C-USA Tournament semifinals.
The 22 wins in the series history is the second most for Houston over any of the fellow C-USA league schools while on the flip side, the 22 losses by ECU to Houston is the most against any current C-USA program for the Pirates.
The Pirates are batting .263 as a team and have two batters hitting above .300 (Jill Jelnick .336, Suzanna Riggs .319). Riggs is the team leader in home runs (7) and RBIs (25) as the Pirates have a balanced lineup with seven players in double-digit RBIs numbers.
ECU relies on Sarah Christian (13-13) and Courtney Smith (3-10) in the circle as the two have combined for every start this year. Christian has completed 11 of the 23 starts and has wracked up 152.0 innings with 48 strikeouts spread over that span.
The Pirates bring a buccaneer spirit to the base paths as they rank No. 19 in the NCAA in steals per game (1.74). ECU is 68-81 on the year with Kristi Oshiro (11-for-12) leading the team.
LAST TIME OUT
The Cougars blanked the Islanders of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4-0 and 8-0 on Tuesday evening at Cougar Softball Stadium. With the wins, the Cougars outscored the Islanders 22-0 on the year as the two teams squared off to begin the 2012 campaign.
FOLLOW THE COUGARS
Live stats for all games will be available at UHCougars.com or fans can follow @UHCougarSB on Twitter for live in-game updates.
Saturday's game will be televised live locally on Fox Sports Houston and Fox Sports Southwest in the surrounding areas. For other areas, please refer to below information:
|FOX SPORTS ARIZONA||Saturday - 04/14/2012||12:00 PM||Mountain||Live|
|FOX SPORTS DETROIT (PLUS)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||3:00 PM||Eastern||Live|
|FOX SPORTS HOUSTON (Texas)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||2:00 PM||Central||Live|
|FOX SPORTS NORTH||Saturday - 04/14/2012||2:00 PM||Central||Live|
|FOX SPORTS OHIO (Non Reds)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||3:00 PM||Eastern||Live|
|FOX SPORTS SOUTH||Saturday - 04/14/2012||3:00 PM||Eastern||Live|
|FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST (TX & OK)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||2:00 PM||Central||Live|
|FOX SPORTS WISCONSIN (PLUS)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||2:00 PM||Central||Live|
|COMCAST BAY AREA (Non Warriors)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||12:00 PM||Pacific||Live|
|MSG PLUS||Saturday - 04/14/2012||3:00 PM||Eastern||Live|
|FOX SPORTS FLORIDA||Monday - 04/16/2012||6:00 AM||Eastern||Delay|
|FOX SPORTS HOUSTON||Sunday - 04/15/2012||3:00 AM||Central||Repeat|
|FOX SPORTS MIDWEST (Non Royals)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||5:00 PM||Central||Delay|
|FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST (Dallas & San Antonio)||Sunday - 04/15/2012||12:00 AM||Central||Repeat|
|PRIME TICKET||Saturday - 04/14/2012||3:30 PM||Pacific||Delay|
|SUN SPORTS||Saturday - 04/14/2012||8:30 PM||Eastern||Delay|
|ROOT SPORTS (Northwest Region)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||12:00 PM||Pacific||Delay|
|ROOT SPORTS (Pittsburgh Region)||Monday - 04/16/2012||5:00 PM||Eastern||Delay|
|ROOT SPORTS (Rocky Mountain Region)||Saturday - 04/14/2012||1:00 PM||Mountain||Live|
Houston is batting .308 as a team and No. 30 in the NCAA. Seven members of the team are swinging the bat over .300 led by Haley Outon (.367), Reina Gaber (.355) and Melissa Gregson (.352).
The Cougars rank No. 9 double plays turned per game (0.49) and No. 25 in steals per game (1.65) as Houston has used a balance approach relying on speed, hitting and defense to lead the way for the team this year.
STOLEN BASE RECORD
Before the season started, head coach Kyla Holas identified base running as a point of emphasis for the 2012 season. 39 games through the regular season, the Cougars have posted the most stolen bases in program history.
The Cougars mark of 71 this season tops the previous record set in 2008 with 70. Led by Ashleigh Jones (15-of-16) and Holly Anderson (11-of-14), Houston has seven student-athletes with at least five steals.
Jones is 10 away from tying Jessica Valis for the single-season record of 25 steals.
Houston also set the program single-game record for steals with seven against Nevada.
HALEY HITTING STREAK
Haley Outon has an 11 game hitting streak and a 16-game reached base streak. Her lone game in that span when she didn't register a hit was against UTEP when she was walked three times after hitting two home runs the previous game. During the hitting streak, she is batting .484 (16-for-33).
COMING UP CLUTCH
77 of the Cougars 177 RBIs this year have came with two outs and Haley Outon and Holly Anderson are major reason for these clutch numbers. The two rank one and two on the team in runs driven in with Outon leading the way with 38 runs driven in and 20 coming in two-out situations while Anderson has 33 and 15.
Haley also has a .439 (18-for-41) average in the two-out situation.
Houston jumped from to No. 48 in the latest RPI rank after being No. 63 following the UAB series. The Cougars still have series against No. 36 Tulsa and No. 42 UCF to bolster the post-season resume.
ECU is ranked No. 101 in the latest RPI.
SEASON STORY NOTES
Houston improved to 9-0 after the 8-0 win over the Islanders when the leadoff batter scores in the first inning. Anderson, who moved to the leadoff hitter in the UAB series, has reached home in half of those games (3-for-6) while Ashleigh Jones was the leadoff batter for the first 33 games before moving to No. 2 in the lineup.
Head coach Kyla Holas reached career and program win number 400 on opening day as Houston defeated Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 10-0. Holas had to wait an extra day to get a crack and No 400 as Houston's first scheduled game of the year against North Texas was cancelled due to rain.
For the second year in a row, Houston set a program attendance record at the annual Striking Out Breast Cancer Game. The mark surpassed last year's crowd of 1,672,
CONFERENCE USA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Diedre Outon was named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 13) after the opening weekend of play at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. Outon went 2-0 with a save over four appearances.
Outon again earned the weekly honor (March 26) as she threw a no hitter against Memphis with eight strikeouts.
Reina Gaber was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week (Feb. 21) after hitting .571 (8-for-14) with six runs and five batted over the four games during the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational.
BEAT THE STREAK
Houston beat No. 21 Texas A&M in College Station earlier this year to end the Aggies NCAA-leading home-winning streak of 34 games.
The Houston pitching staff has thrown two no hitters thus far this year. Bailey Watts threw a hitless game against Louisiana Monroe, her second of her career, on Feb. 18
YOUTH MOVEMENT Seven freshman have made starts for Houston this year including Jaime Edwards who has started at first base every game this season. Sydney Gerbracht ranks second among the rookies with 20 starts coming at DP.
Big production from freshman is nothing new for Houston as nearly every returning starter has been named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team - Diedre and Haley Outon (2011), Bailey Watts (2010), Jennifer Klinkert (2008; Freshman of the Year), Ashleigh Jones (2010) and Reina Gaber (2010).
IN A PINCH
Redshirt freshman Sydney Gerbracht has came up huge for Houston off this season. While the Torrey Pines, Calif., native has made 20 starts and owns a .367 batting average, she has made her biggest hits as a pinch hitter. All three home runs by Gerbracht this year have come in that role.
Houston travels to Tulsa next weekend for a series against the Golden Hurricane. Saturday's game starts at 2 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports Network as well.