Softball splits with Bears

The Cougars had three days to think about their most recent performance, a shutout at the hands of Texas State on Sunday.

It must have done some good, as the Cougars jumped out to an early lead against Baylor and rode that momentum to a 2-1 win in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Cougar Softball Stadium.

The Bears would salvage a split with a 9-4 victory in the finale.

UH starting pitcher Baillie Lott (2-2) got the Cougars off to a good start in the first game by retiring the side in order in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Jessica Valis got things going in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff double down the left-field line.

She advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored off catcher Elaina Nordstrom’s sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.

Lott put up another scoreless frame in the top of the second, stranding two Bears in the process. UH (5-4) capitalized in the bottom of the second when third baseman Christa Raley singled and stole second base.

Second baseman Haley Valis, not to be outdone by her twin sister, drove in Raley with a towering double to left field that narrowly cleared the outfield fence.

UH head coach Kyla Holas said the early runs definitely made a difference in the way the team played.

‘It does help when you’re confident and ahead,’ Holas said. ‘It’s a different approach than when you’re behind, and we have to make sure as an offensive team that we try to hit in those situations as much as possible to be successful.’

UH made those two runs hold up, as it would not score again against Baylor pitcher Whitney Canion (4-2), who struck out 11 Cougars.’

Holas pointed to a lack of focus in the low-scoring affair.

‘We had way too many strikeouts and too many at-bats where we were not really doing our job, and we spent a lot of our time trying to guess and figure things out,’ she said.

Baylor (7-3) scored its only run in the top of the third when shortstop Bree Hanafin smacked a line-drive home run over the right field wall to cut the Bears’ deficit to 2-1.

The Cougars return to action this weekend when they host the Marriott Houston Invitational at Cougar Softball Stadium. They will play Illinois at 5 p.m. Friday, before facing McNeese State at 7 p.m.

Holas said she wants her team to focus on playing for all seven innings.

‘We keep finding ourselves mentally not here for the whole thing, so were going to spend our time talking about that and making sure that we’re capable of putting in from start to finish what we need to put in,’ Holas said.

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