Cougars set to host Miners

Pitcher Bailey Watts, left, and the Cougars will try to build on Tuesday’s success when they take on C-USA powerhouse UTEP this weekend at Cougar Softball Stadium. | Kendra Berglund/The Daily Cougar

After upsetting No. 12 Georgia Tech to earn a split in Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cougars are looking to elevate their Conference USA standing this weekend in a three-game series against UTEP.

After being swept on the road by Central Florida, the Cougars sit at 3-3 in C-USA and 16-13 overall. UH lost its first game against Georgia Tech, but winning the nightcap gave the Cougars some much-needed momentum heading into the weekend.

Head coach Kyla Holas said her players need to take advantage and make the most of these league games.

“Right now, everything we do in conference is do or die,” Holas said. “Your season rides on your conference play.”

UTEP (22-10, 4-2) is one of the better C-USA teams the Cougars will face in the regular season. The Miners are 10-0 at home, but struggle when they hit the road with a record of 5-5.

“They are bringing the top pitcher in the conference,” Holas said. “They are bringing probably the best offense in the conference, so you’re going to have to have some good pitching and find a way to hit.”

Coached by Kathleen and James Rodriguez, UTEP is overflowing with talent at the plate and on the mound. Camilla Carrera carries the Miners offensively with five homers and a .417 average at the plate.

Miners pitcher Stacie Townsend (18-6) is one of the best players in the conference. On Sunday against New Mexico State, she hit her 30th career homer and threw her fifth shutout of the season. Heading into this weekend, Townsend not only dominates on the mound, but is batting .347 with eight homers. She has struck out 207 batters this season.

“She has the best stats, the most strikeouts and the most wins,” said Holas. “She is a senior and I think you can tell that she is really performing well.”

The Miners are familiar with Cougars pitcher Amanda Crabtree (6-6).  Last March, Crabtree had a career-high 13 strikeouts against UTEP, but UH lost 5-6. Holas is not expecting her players to repeat the same mistakes that they made last year against UTEP or last weekend in the series against UCF.

“We can hang with this (team),” she said.

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