Softball: Cougars prepare for the Thundering Herd
The Houston softball team, 22-3 on the season, heads to Huntington, W. Va. Saturday for their first conference game of the season against the Thundering Herd of Marshall University.
"We are very focused and aware of the target on our back," head coach Kyla Holas said. "Everyone wants to beat us."
No. 13 UH, coming off of a 5-1 weekend and a shut out Tuesday, will begin conference play after being chosen as the preseason favorite to win the Conference USA championship by C-USA head coaches in January.
"The team knows that we get everyone’s best, and beating us is what they want more than anything," Holas said.
The Herd (10-12) have a strong lineup that UH will have to adjust to, Holas said.
"(Marshall) is one of the best hitting teams in the conference and has the best hitter the conference has in (senior catcher) Rachel Folden," Holas said.
Folden, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team in January along with UH senior pitcher Angel Shamblin and junior infielder Jessica Valis, is batting .478 with 11 RBIs, 13 doubles and four home runs on the season.
"(Marshall) has three pitchers that have good control and make you get yourself," Holas said. "We will have to be disciplined at the plate and choose strikes."
The Cougars struggled at the plate in their game Tuesday against the Fresno State Bulldogs, getting only two hits in a 10 inning game.
"Our problem was not making the adjustment fast enough to the umpire’s zone," Holas said. "It was not a hitters’ zone, and we had to keep chipping away until we made the adjustment and pushed something across."
Shamblin (12-1), who gave up only six hits with no runs in all 10 innings of Houston’s 0-1 win against the Bulldogs, was named the C-USA Pitcher of the Week on Monday for the 11th time in her UH career. Along with her pitching performance Tuesday, Shamblin drove in the lone run on a sacrifice fly to bring in freshman outfielder Katie Beth Sherman.
She pitched all seven innings of the game Sunday, striking out 10 and giving up five runs in a loss to DePaul.
Game 1 against The Herd begins at 1 p.m. Saturday followed by Game 2 at 3 p.m. The final game of the series begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday.