Dec. 6, 2012
HOUSTON - University of Houston's softball head coach Kyla Holas released the team's 2013 schedule on Friday which features 30 home games and 12 teams that advanced to an NCAA Regional last year. Of the 54 regular season games, 24 contests will pit the Cougars against teams that made the NCAA post season last year.
"With this team and where we're at in our experience, leadership and pitching, this is the time to challenge ourselves," said Holas. "At this point in our program, we're ready to make a run at the College World Series. If we're going to prove we're a team capable of that, it will take winning the games against the caliber of opponents we have lined up to accomplish that."
First pitch for the Cougars 2013 season takes place on Feb. 8 at 4:30 p.m. against Texas State.
Houston opens the season by hosting the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic (Feb. 8-10) and the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite (Feb. 15-17). After playing the first 12 games within the friendly confines of Cougar Softball Stadium, the Cougars play four games in The Preview tournament hosted by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, with two games a piece scheduled for the Sooner State schools.
In addition to facing last year's NCAA Runner Up, OU, Houston also hosts 2012 NCAA Champion Alabama on March 27.
"As a player and a competitor, any time you have an opportunity to go against the caliber of these teams you should be excited. Even if you're just a fan of college softball, there should be some great games to watch."
Following the Alabama home game, Houston heads to BYU (March 29-30) in Provo, Utah, for a three-game series against the Cougars, who went 45-14 last year and came within a game of advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals.
All three games at BYU will be televised on BYU TV. More broadcast information for the remainder of the schedule will be available at a later date.
Houston faces two more Big 12 teams who qualified for the postseason with a doubleheader at Baylor (April 23) and vs. Texas at home on Feb. 16 during the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite tournament.
Fourteen games on the schedule are set against Lone Star State competition - Houston faces Texas State, UT-Arlington, Texas, Baylor, HBU, UTSA, Sam Houston State and Lamar out of conference.
The Cougars close out the non-conference slate with three straight NCAA postseason teams - Baylor, at Louisiana-Lafayette (April 17) and hosting Mississippi State in the regular season finale on May 6.
STRIKING OUT BREAST CANCER GAME
The seventh annual Striking Out Breast Cancer Game in partnership with the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation will take place on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. against Purdue. Last year, a record-setting crowd of 1,785 donated a record sum of $11,448 to help fight the disease. More details about the event will be released at a later date.
Houston embarks on their final year of Conference USA with Tulsa being the site of the 2013 C-USA Championship. All 13 years of the program's existence have been played in C-USA with Holas owning the league record for most wins during that time.
"This is our final year in Conference USA and it's been a great run so far with this league and all the teams. Taking care of conference is priority number one for us. As a program, you have to win your conference first and usually by taking care of business, the post season will happen."
Houston hosts UCF (March 16-17), Marshall (April 6-7), Tulsa (April 20-21) and UAB (May 4-5) with road trips to Southern Miss (March 9-10), East Carolina (March 23-24), UTEP (April 13-14) and Memphis (April 27-28).
The league championship is set for May 9-11.
The Cougars went 35-24 overall last year and 15-9 in C-USA play en route to a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals. Houston returns 14 of 18 student-athletes from last year's squad including six position starters and the entire pitching staff.
The offense looks to be led by junior Haley Outon, who set a program record with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs on her way to being named to the NFCA All-American team last year. Helping shoulder the load are seniors Holly Anderson and Reina Gaber, who both batted above .349 last year and combined to steal 27 bases and drive in 69 runs.
Joining Houston for the 2013 season are five newcomers including Missouri transfer Taylor Duplechain, who Holas will look to fill the void in centerfield and as a leadoff batter.
Veteran hurlers Bailey Watts and Diedre Outon give Houston a solid one-two punch in the circle and joining those two are sophomores Summer Groholski and Ty'ara Law, a year more experienced after their freshmen campaigns.