Cold weather, hot start for UH
Opening the season with a perfect 5-0 is a nice way to start the softball season. Head coach Kyla Holas thinks so.
“I think it’s exactly where we want to be right now,” Holas said. “We’re controlling the things that we can control.”
The No. 20 Cougars roared through five games in three days and came away flexing their muscles in both the batter’s box and on the mound, out-scoring their opponents 37-9.
Sophomore Diedre Outon gave the Cougars their biggest win of the weekend, shutting out No. 11 Oklahoma State — the school that UH lost to trying to advance to the College World Series.
“Anytime you can beat a ranked opponent it’s important,” Holas said. “But each year as teams we’re all different. You can’t really take last year into this year. It was nice to get a ranked-opponent win, but at this point in the season that’s all it really is.”
Losing last season’s aces, Amanda Crabtree and Donna Bourgeois, made the rotation a bit of a question mark, but Outon teamed with sophomore Bailey Watts and freshman Summer Groholski to shut down the opposition.
In addition to shutting out the Cowgirls (4-1), Outon also earned her second win of the season against North Texas (1-3) on Sunday, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs. She also picked up her first save later that day, picking up the final two outs in the Cougars’ 6-4 win over Sam Houston State (0-4).
“I thought Diedre stepped up huge, but she was the healthiest by far all year, so we knew she was going to have to carry some of the load,” Holas said.
Grohloski picked up wins in both of UH’s wins against the Bearkats. Her performance was a pleasant surprise as she is still getting back in the swing of things after breaking her arm in the fall.
“I was very glad that we were able to get Summer again, coming off of her injury, three innings,” Holas said. “So we’re right where we need to be.”
Even with teams pitching around Conference USA Player of the Year Melissa Gregson, the Cougars’ offense didn’t miss a beat with senior Jennifer Klinkert and sophomore Haley Outon leading the way.
Klinkert picked up hits in half of her at bats (6-12), scored six runs, knocked in seven, and mashed a home run against the Mean Green.
Outon went 6-13, highlighted by her solo home run against Oklahoma State, and also scored six runs for the weekend.
Freshman Sydney Gerbracht hit the first home run of her career, a two-run shot against the Mean Green, while also going 5-9 for the weekend.
“I think Sydney, Klink, Jamie (Edwards) and Ashleigh (Jones) are really doing a great job for us offensively and really kind of anchoring us and producing the most runs,” Holas said.
In the Cougars’ final two games of the weekend, Holas moved Gregson down in the order from her usual spot as the clean-up hitter to try to get her better pitches and stop teams from pitching around her.
“I still don’t know if she saw any better pitches,” Holas said. “I think everyone still knows her as a senior and they’re going to pitch around her no matter where she was. But just trying to take some of the pressure off, hopefully she’ll see some more pitches.”
Holas was pleased with the Cougars’ start and even happier to know where her team’s weaknesses are going forward.
“We needed to play to see where all of our problems were, especially on day three,” Holas said. “I think day three — mentally, physically, (and with) the weather conditions — that’s where you’re going to see your biggest weaknesses and there was some key stuff going on today that we have to fix.”