April 20, 2012
The race for the 2012 Conference USA Championship heats up this weekend as the Cougars (26-16, 11-4) travels to Tulsa (30-10, 12-3) in a showdown between the first and second-place teams in C-USA. The first game of Saturday's double-header at 3:30 p.m. will be televised on FOX Sports before Sunday's finale at noon.
Houston holds the 10-7 advantage in the overall series between the two teams as Houston took two of three games in the matchup last time. Although the Cougars maintain a .588 winning recover over Tulsa, that is the closest to .500 UH is against any current C-USA opponent.
Tulsa is batting .320 as a team, good for No. 16 in the country. Leading the team and ranking No. 28 in the NCAA is Jill Barrett (.424). Barrett also has a 21-game conference hitting streak in play.
In the circle, Tulsa has two pitchers receiving the bulk of their work with Lacey Middlebrooks (13-4) and Aimee Creger (14-4) combining to throw 231.2 of the 269.1 innings this year. Creger was named to the C-USA Preseason Team along with OF Caitlin Everett. Everett ranks second on the team in batting average (.390) and ranks sixth in the NCAA in steals per game (0.73, 32-for-36).
Tulsa was picked first in the conference in the preseason poll.
LAST TIME OUT
Houston went 2-1 last weekend against the Pirates with a 13-5 (5) win televised game on FOX Sports. Houston tied a season-high with 18 hits in the first game before Jaime Edwards hit a walkoff-grand slam in the second game to give Houston the 6-2 win. It was the second grand slam of the season for the freshman Edwards.
Holly Anderson was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week for the second time in her career after going 9-for-16 and leading the league in runs and steals.
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:
Houston is batting .317 as a team and No. 21 in the NCAA. Seven members of the team are swinging the bat over .300 led by Reina Gaber (.373) who is No. 6 in C-USA in batting average. Six other members of the team are also posting above .300 including Melissa Gregson (.370) who is No. 9 in the conference in hitting.
The Cougars rank No. 12 in the NCAA in double plays turned per game (0.45) and No. 14 in steals per game (1.86) as Houston has used a balance approach relying on speed, hitting and defense to lead the way for the team this year.
Diedre Outon (2.60 ERA, 10-4) and Bailey Watts (2.60, 10-6) lead Houston in the circle as the sophomores have combined to throw seven complete games this year. Watts is the leader in strikeouts with 93.
Holly Anderson has a 10-game hitting streak in tact and is one short of tying Reina Gaber and Haley Outon for the longest streak of the season. Gaber, Melissa Gregson, Ashleigh Jones all bring four-game hitting streaks into the weekend's contest.
STOLEN BASE RECORD
Before the season started, head coach Kyla Holas identified base running as a point of emphasis for the 2012 season...42 games through the regular season, the Cougars have posted the most stolen bases in program history.
The Cougars mark of 80 this season tops the previous record set in 2008 with 70. Led by Ashleigh Jones (17-of-18) and Holly Anderson (13-of-16), Houston has seven members of the team with at least six swipes.
Jones is eight steals away from tying volunteer assistant coach Jessica Valis' record for the single-season high (25 - 2008).
Houston also set the program single-game record for steals with seven against Nevada. UH was 7-for-7 in that game and has recorded six steals in three other games this year.
COMING UP CLUTCH
87 of the Cougars 200 RBIs this year have came with two outs and Haley Outon and Holly Anderson are major reason for these clutch numbers. Haley has 20 two-out RBIs of her 39 total, and Anderson has driven in 16 with two outs of her 35 total.
Reina Gaber is batting .425 with two outs.
Houston moved up two spots from No. 48 to No. 46 following last week's play. Houston has six games left against teams above their RPI with series against No. 34 Tulsa is No. 34 and No. 41 UCF.
SEASON STORY NOTES
Houston improved to 10-0 after the 13-5 win over ECU when the Cougars leadoff batter scores in the first inning. Anderson, who moved to the leadoff hitter in the UAB series, has reached home in nearly half of those games (4-for-9) while Ashleigh Jones was the leadoff batter for the first 33 games before moving to No. 2 in the lineup.
The Cougars are 13-2 this year after leading through the first inning and 23-1 when leading after the third frame.
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
Holly Anderson was named the C-USA Hitter of the Week (April 17) following her 9-for-16 showing at the plate to bat .562 during the week, and lead the league in steals (5) and runs (6). Houston went 4-1 against Texas A&M-CC and ECU that week, scoring 37 runs.
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
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 23 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 23 starts and owns a .375 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.