Whatever kind of funk the Cougars were in to start March, they’re long past it now.
“I know that we had enough of losing and I think we’ve had a mind-set of ‘that’s it, let’s put your foot down, it’s time to stop,’” sophomore pitcher Bailey Watts said.
The Cougars (18-13, 7-2 Conference USA) have bounced back from losing eight of nine to win their last eight games, including a dominant sweep of Memphis (7-26, 0-9) this weekend where UH out-scored the Tigers 23-1 over three games.
Two of the Cougars’ three wins were decided by run-rule.
“Hitting is one of those things that’s really streaky and hard to predict, so you just try to ride it as much as you can when you have and deal with it when you’re struggling and try to get it back,” head coach Kyla Holas said.
The Cougars polished off the Tigers on Sunday with a seven-run fourth inning sparked by Holly Anderson’s three-run home run to give UH an 8-0 run-rule win.
“I was expecting to see an outside pitch again,” Anderson said. “So I was ready and looking for it. I felt really confident going into my at bat and taking advantage of it.”
Haley Outon followed that with an RBI double, and pinch hitter Kayla Holland crushed her first career home run to cap the inning.
Watts finished the game by striking out the side and earning her second win of the series and ninth of the year.
Watts also earned the win in the Cougars 5-1 win to open the series.
Sophomore Diedre Outon followed that by no-hitting the Tigers — her first career no-hitter — on Saturday. Outon struck out eight and allowed no walks.
Watts and Outon combined to surrender just seven hits in 18 innings against the Tigers.
“I hope for them that they’re getting confidence and understanding what it takes to win ball games,” Holas said.
“We have a very tough road ahead of us. We still have Tulsa, UAB, UCF and all of those top teams in conference still on the schedule. Right now we can’t afford to lose any more ball games.”
Watts feels that the Cougars’ pitching staff has turned a corner.
“I think we definitely struggled as a staff early in the year,” she said. “And we’ve been working very hard at practice and putting in extra time just to make sure that we’re doing out part as a pitching staff and making sure that we’re backing up our hitting and our defense because that’s what’s important — when you have it all you don’t have to worry.”
Pretty in pink
The Cougars are back in action on Wednesday against No. 6 Texas to host the sixth annual Striking Out Breast Cancer Game.
The Cougars and Cougar Field will be decked out in pink with game-used jerseys and helmets later being auctioned to benefit Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Last season, the Cougars raised nearly $11,000 for the cause.
“I am very excited; the cause itself is a great thing,” Watts said. “I have a family member that battled and survived breast cancer, so this is a huge thing for me.
“And we get to look pretty in pink.”