UH softball prepares to play hardball
The softball regular season is set to begin and the UH team is ready to take on McNeese State and Nicholls State in round robin play Friday and Saturday at Cougar Softball Stadium.
"I am very excited to start playing again," junior shortstop Jessica Valis said. "I am ready to start playing and see what we are made of."?The Cougars, who were ranked as the top team in Conference USA by C-USA coaches, will face the Cowboys in a doubleheader at 3 and 5 p.m. Friday and play another doubleheader against the Colonels at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday.
"We have a big target on our backs," Valis said. "We’re ready to show people that we are as good as (they) say we are."
The team has been looking at what strengths its opponents have, trying to figure out what it’ll be up against this season.
"Both teams usually bring some big offensive swings, and they have turned over their rosters a lot from last year," head coach Kyla Holas said. "We are going to take it one pitch at a time until we get one time through the lineup."
The Cougars base their game around solid pitching, a consistent defense that eliminates the big innings, an aggressive offense and base running, Holas said.
"We used the fall as our experimental time," she said. "We have pretty much secured the lineup and defensive positions except for some early season injuries, which will have us mix up the defense until (the injured players) return."
The team members have been focusing on good communication and working together for the coming games, Valis said.
"You can practice all you want," Valis said. "But being in a game deals with more adversity."
Valis, who was predicted to be the conference Player of the Year by C-USA coaches, was recently named to the Amateur Softball Association Top 50 Watch List for 2008. The list will be narrowed down throughout the season until the ASA names a USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year.
"I am excited for Jessica," Holas said. "She has so much potential, and people outside of (UH) are finally taking notice of her ability."
Valis said she was honored to be selected, but she is most focused on what her team needs.
"I have matured as a player," Valis said. "I want to continue to grow as a good teammate."
Taking on the Cowboys and Colonels, UH must focus on what it needs to do to be successful, Holas said.
"We are going to have to do the little things," she said. "And play a Cougar-softball style of play."