Softball clinches Conference USA crown
This weekend proved to be a monumental one for the Cougars.
With a 4-0 shutout victory in Saturday’s series opener against East Carolina, Houston brought home its first-ever Conference USA regular season championship and gained the No. 1 seed in the coming conference tournament.
But the fun didn’t end there. The Cougars dispatched the Pirates 3-1 (9 inn.) in the finale Sunday at ECU Softball Field to win the series, 2-1. Sophomore Haley Valis provided the exclamation mark with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth that broke a 1-1 tie.
Junior right-hander Angel Shamblin took it from there, holding the Pirates scoreless in the bottom frame to seal the victory. Shamblin (25-6) went the distance, allowing only one run on six hits and four walks while striking out nine batters.
The Cougars (37-15, 18-3 C-USA) have won every conference series to this point, with only a series remaining against Marshall this weekend at Cougar Softball Stadium.
The Cougars were victorious this weekend because they stayed aggressive at the plate and produced clutch hits with runners in scoring position.
The Cougars have come a long way. At the start of the season, they made a bad habit of committing costly errors and stranding runners.
However, ECU (35-18, 11-9 C-USA) turned the tables on the Cougars in the second game. The Pirates snagged a 3-1 victory after touching up junior right-hander Barbie Love (6-6) for three runs in six innings.
Shamblin’s dominance in the circle propelled the Cougars to the win in Game 1. The Houston ace notched her 10th shutout of the season, allowing only three hits, all singles, and one walk with nine strikeouts.