April 19, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston softball team will play host to No. 23/22 Texas A&M in the Cougars' Fifth Annual Striking Out Breast Cancer Game at Cougar Softball Stadium on April 20 at 6:30 p.m.
The Cougars will take a break from the heated Conference USA race to focus on their annual fundraiser that benefits the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Houston affiliate. For the fifth-consecutive year, the program will host a silent auction with all of the proceeds going directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation along with half of all the game's ticket revenue.
"This is something we started when we were recruiting a former player who's mother had the disease," head coach Kyla Holas said. "We wanted to do something to honor her. Now it's grown and grown into the big event it is today. It's a way to recognize the important women and survivors in our lives, and to show our girls that softball is about more than wins and losses."
This season, the annual game will get back to its roots as Houston will welcome Texas A&M to Cougar Softball Stadium as the opponent. The Aggies faced the Cougars in the first Striking Out Breast Cancer Game in program history during the 2007 season.
"We have them on the schedule every year." Holas said. "We recruit a lot of the same kids and they are one of the premier programs in our state. Their fans travel well and they are very good guests for this game."
ABOUT THE MATCHUP
The Aggies hold a 14-4 overall series record against the Cougars as Houston will be looking for its first win against Texas A&M since taking the first game of the NCAA Regional Tournament in College Station in the 2007 season.
The last time the two met, the Aggies took the 6-4 victory on their home field on March 3, 2010.
HOUSTON (31-14, 13-5 Conference USA)
OVERALL: Houston enters the midweek contest after a heated battle against Tulsa for rights to second place in the conference standings. Houston posted the ninth, 30-win season in program history on Saturday as the Cougars swept Tulsa in the opening doubleheader of the series before falling in a 1-0, 11-inning pitching duel in Sunday's finale. Despite the loss, Houston is still a team on a hot streak as the Cougars have won 12 of their last 14 games and five-straight Conference USA series.
The Cougars finished last week at No. 26 in the RPI projections and continue to make improvements to an already strong postseason resume. Houston run ruled No. 15 Baylor in the first game of a doubleheader, 8-0, for its sixth win against a top-25 opponent this season.
IN THE CIRCLE: Senior Amanda Crabtree (17-7) racked up her fifth C-USA Pitcher of the Weekhonor this season after another successful week in the circle. She appeared in four of the Cougars' five games this week, posting a 2-1 record with a 0.64 ERA and 37 strikeouts. The only runs she allowed were in relief during the Cougars' second game against Baylor after the senior threw a complete game shutout to win game one.
Crabtree finished the week leading the NCAA in strikeouts per seven innings (12.2) and also tops the nation in hits allowed per seven innings (2.5). With NCAA statistic rankings in tow, Crabtree begins the week as theconference leader in strikeouts (291) and opposing batting average (.117) and holds the second-best ERA in the league (0.96).
Fellow senior Donna Bourgeois (11-6) leads the league in conference-only ERA (0.37) and ranks 7th with her overall ERA mark of 1.56.
Freshman Diedre Outon (3-1) made her first career C-USA start on Saturday against Tulsa and earned her third victory of the season after giving up just one run to the Golden Hurricane during the Cougars' 9-1 five-inning victory.
Houston's pitching staff leads the conference in overall ERA (1.21), strikeouts (402) and opposing batting average (.163).
AT THE PLATE: The Cougar hitters have put up enough runs to run rule their opponents in five of their last eight games. Houston's lineup tops the league in batting average (.280), home runs (53), runs scored (223), RBI (195) and slugging percentage (.466).
Against the Tulsa pitching staff, including C-USA's ERA leader, Aimee Creger, junior Melissa Gregson put on a display of power and patience during her 5-for-9 weekend.
During Saturday's doubleheader, Gregson continued her warpath through C-USA. She belted her 13th and 14th homeruns of the season to tie UTEP's Chelsea Troupe as the league leader. She went 3-for-6 on the day with five RBI, including the go-ahead two-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth to score the only runs of the game during the Cougars' 2-0 series opening win.
Gregson is hitting an impressive .480 in conference play, and leads the league in RBI (39) and home runs (14).
Senior outfielder Katy Beth Sherman leads the team with a .341 average and has hit safely in eight of her last nine games.
NO. 23/22 TEXAS A&M (33-11, 5-4 Big 12)
OVERALL: In their last six games, the Aggies have won three and lost three as they head to Houston on a three-game win streak, including taking both games against No. 12 Nebraska last weekend.
IN THE CIRCLE: Sophomore right-hander Melissa Dumezich (19-7) went the distance in both games against the nationally ranked Huskers. One unearned run was the only scoring she allowed in her 14.0 innings of work over the weekend. She leads the staff with 180 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .189.
Redshirt junior Lindsey Sisk (14-4) leads the team with a 1.87 ERA.
AT THE PLATE: Junior second baseman Natalie Villarreal is pacing the offense with a .359 average. Senior first baseman Rhiannon Kliesing hit her 15th homer of the season against Nebraska to add to her team-leading RBI total (45). Texas A&M is hitting .289 with 57 homeruns as a team.