Cougars topple Illini in end of tough tournament
Despite a slow start to the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic, the Cougars ended their five-game skid with a triumphant 12-2 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars set a season-high in runs scored and tied a season high with home runs by senior outfielder Tiffani McKnight and senior second baseman Kayla Holland.
Houston took an early 2-0 lead in the first after Illinois pitcher Breanna Wonderly was unable to get settled, allowing two walks and hitting two batters before being pulled without recording an out.
The Illini got one back on a sac fly in the top of the third, but the Cougars extended their lead 4-1 following a two-run blast by McKnight.
A leadoff home run in the top of the fourth brought the Illini within two, however the Cougar offense exploded for eight runs as the first six batters reached safely in the bottom of the inning, giving Illinois one chance to pull back within 10.
Senior first baseman Jaime Edwards got the surge started for the Cougars with a walk that led to a two-run Holland home run. Junior outfielder Katie St. Pierre, freshman outfielder Kaylin Crumpton and junior shortstop Selena Hernandez each singled and added two runs on two errors by Illinois.
Junior catcher Courtney Klingler had a one out two-run double, giving the Cougars a total of eight runs scored in the bottom of the fifth on six hits and three Illinois errors.
Senior pitcher Summer Groholski set the Illini down in order in the top of the fifth, scoring the victory for the Cougars with a complete game, giving up two runs on only three hits in five innings of work.
The victory concluded what had been a difficult tournament for the Cougars who had lost to New Mexico 2-1 Thursday night, and dropped two to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Illinois, 5-4 and 10-7 respectively Friday night.
The Cougars were led offensively in the tournament by Hernandez who reached safely in 10 of her 14 plate appearances, hit a home run, hit three RBI and scored three runs and Klingler who went 4-10 hitting two double and two home runs, driving in five and scoring four runs.
The Cougars will look to start a different kind of streak Wednesday night as they travel to College Station for a single game against No. 22/23 Texas A&M. The game will be broadcasted at 6 p.m. on SEC Network Plus.