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Friday, October 20, 2017

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Cougars sweep tournament with home runs, strikeouts


In the Houston Marriot Classic at Cougar Softball Stadium, the UH softball team swept the tournament and set a new school record for consecutive wins with 14.

In Sunday’s finale, senior pitcher Angel Shamblin dominated Texas State, throwing a one-hit complete game shutout in the Cougars’ 4-0 win. With the win, she moves to 7-0 on the season.

Junior catcher Elaina Nordstrom helped secure the win when she hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning, giving Houston a four-run lead.

"I needed to do something," Nordstrom said." I didn’t go up there trying to be a hero, I just tried to go up there and do my job. It just kind of happened that way."

On Saturday, the Cougars, ranked No. 16 in USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25, came away with two victories, defeating Kansas 7-3 and Centenary 7-1.

Senior outfielder Laurie Wagner belted a towering home run in the second, giving the Cougars an early lead.

"It felt good to put us ahead against Kansas," said Wagner. "Kansas was a big game today and it felt good to get ahead like we did.

Head coach Kyla Holas felt the same way.

"I still think (offense is) our dominating factor right now," Holas said. "It’s putting our pitching in a spot that they can give up some mistakes. It’s really what kind of lets you settle in and dictate the pace of the game."

The Jayhawks were only the second team this season to score three runs against the Cougars. Nicholls State scored three runs in their loss earlier in the season.

In the second game, the Cougars beat Centenary 7-1.

Senior pitcher Barbie Love started for the Cougars and struck out the first three batters she faced. She finished with 12 strikeouts, while only giving up two hits and one earned run.

The Cougars scored three times in the fifth, including a first-pitch home run by freshman first baseman Jennifer Klinkert – her sixth of the season.

In Friday’s first game against California State Northridge, UH had a 3-1 victory. Shamblin tallied the win, striking out 12 batters, three shy of her single game record, despite not having her best stuff on the mound.

"I was leaving pitches over the plate," said Shamblin. "Things weren’t breaking the way I wanted them to. I was just kind of working through it and letting my defense help me out."

The Cougar offense would jump to a quick with a pair of home runs in the first inning by Nordstrom and Klinkert. Haley Valis followed with one in the third.

"It felt good," Valis said. "I’ve been making a lot of adjustments in practice. I just want to mix some base hits in there also, not just home runs, but it feels good. I’m getting my confidence back."

The Cougars also played Boston University, shutting out the Terriers 8-0 in six innings.

UH softball is off to its best start since 2002 at 14-0. However, the winning streak is not what’s important to the team, players or coaches.

"We’re not really focusing on that," Holas said. "For us we’re just trying to make sure we win all the games we can win because when it comes down to the end of postseason, especially going to a single elimination tournament in the conference, we need to have as many wins as possible."


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