Softball: UH drops NCAA Super-Regional opener

Even a grand slam could not help the Cougars to a win as they fell to Louisiana-Lafayette 6-4 in the first game of the NCAA Super-Regionals on Friday before a crowd of 1,217, a record for attendance at Cougar Softball Stadium.

The Cougars have lost two of their last five games and find themselves in the unfamiliar position of needing two wins to keep their season going.

UH grabbed the lead in the third with a grand slam from freshman infielder Jennifer Klinkert and held onto it until the fifth inning, when the Cougars allowed the Ragin Cajuns to score five runs. The Ragin Cajuns held on to the lead and did not allow UH to score again.

"I thought defensively (Louisiana-Lafayette) made all the plays, almost, that they needed to make. We’ve got to show up and make those plays tomorrow," UH head coach Kyla Holas said.

The Ragin Cajuns managed to get ten hits off of senior pitcher Angel Shamblin (35-4), who struck out only three batters.

"Any time you give up 10 hits in the postseason this late you can’t win ball games. We’ve got to make sure that we make better pitches and we knew that every mistake we made they were going to hit, and I thought they did their job," Holas said.

Shamblin also gave up six unearned runs, the second-highest total in a single game in her career.

"Right now they’re capitalizing on mistakes that I make, and that’s how they’re beating me," Shamblin said. "If I pitch my game, I pretty much can’t be beat."

Holas said that the Cougars need to get their offense started early in tomorrow’s game against the Ragin Cajuns in order to take some of the pressure off Shamblin.

"We’ve got to make sure that we make whoever goes out there put some runs across, do some damage to them early, and hope that we can get enough support that Angel (Shamblin) can settle in," she said.

The Ragin Cajuns were the first to score when sophomore infielder Melissa Verde hit a homerun in the top of the second to put them up 1-0.

In the bottom of the third, Houston junior infielder Jessica Valis singled to get on first and then stole second, giving her a team-high 20 steals on the season. Valis advanced to third on a single by junior outfielder Katie Bush.

Bush also stole second, and Ragin Cajun freshman pitcher Ashley Brignac (29-6) walked junior catcher Elaina Nordstrom to load the bases.

Klinkert hit a homer to center field for the grand slam to give the Cougars the 4-1 lead, but it was the last time UH put any points on the board.

The Ragin Cajuns reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth with a five-run inning. Senior outfielder Holly Tankersley brought home sophomore outfielder Vallie Gaspard, who reached base on a single, to put the score at 4-2. Verde singled to bring home pinch runner sophomore infielder Courtney Traham to put UL within one run.

Sohpomore catcher Lana Bowers hit a 3-run homerun with a full count to left center to bring in freshman pinch runner Kelly Cormier and Tankersley to give the Ragin Cajuns their first lead of the game with the score at 6-4.

It proved to be all they needed. The Cougars got just two hits in the last three innings, and Nordstrom flied out to end the game and give the Ragin Cajuns the win.

The two teams will face off at noon tomorrow at Cougar Softball Stadium. If the Cougars win, they will need to beat the Ragin Cajuns again in game three at 3 p.m. in order to advance to the NCAA Softball World Series.

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