Cougars split home-opening Hilton Invitational
The Cougars opened their 2015 home season this weekend with five games, including two double-headers, as they hosted the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational.
The Cougars took on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers and McNeese State Cowgirls on the first day, the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen and DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday and closed out the weekend against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.
The Cougars started off the tournament strong with a 5-2 victory over the Northern Iowa Panthers. The Panthers struck first, but the Cougars answered with a three-run third inning which was all freshman pitcher Kayla Maxwell needed to get the win.
“We got to keep picking away, growing in inches and get into the Women’s College World Series,” Maxwell said.
Houston was unable to complete the sweep after dropping a tightly contested game to McNeese State 1-3. The Cougars got on the board early in the first inning but the Cowgirls’ pitching was on another level, retiring the next eight batters and 12 of the final 22.
The bats came alive on a drama-filled day two of the tournament. Thanks to clutch batting from senior designated hitter Jaime Edwards, the Cougars started off Valentine ’s Day with a 5-4 walk off victory.
Edwards knew what she had to do and she delivered. “I knew that I’ve been swinging well the past few weeks,” Edwards said. “I personally like outside, and they brought in a curveball pitcher so I knew I was the one that needed to be up in that situation.”
The drama wasn’t over yet though. In the Cougars’ second game, the DePaul Blue Demons jumped out to 3-0 lead and it looked as if they would cruise to an easy victory. Junior first baseman Courtney Klingler had other plans, however, as she knocked a two-run home run scoring freshman Kaylin Crumpton.
The Cougars continued their hot hitting in the sixth pulling away and earning a 5-3 victory over the defending Big East champions.
Closing out the tournament, the Cougars fell short 5-1 to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks due to a big seventh inning.
The Cougars (6-6) finished the tournament 3-2 and continue to grow as a team.
“I think overall we showed a lot of what we can do as a team,” said senior catcher/second baseman Kayla Holland. “Obviously we have things we need to work on like every team and we’re just going to get back after it in practice.”
Next up for Houston is No. 2 Oregon (6-0) and its high-powered offense for a double header starting February 16.