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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Softball

Double trouble for UH opponents


Junior Haley Outon has been catching her twin sister Diedre since the pair was nine. While Diedre was the starting pitcher for the Cougars Saturday against The University of Texas Haley was the team’s catcher.  |  Esteban Portillo/The Daily Cougar

Junior Haley Outon has been catching her twin sister Diedre since the pair was nine. While Diedre was the starting pitcher for the Cougars Saturday against The University of Texas Haley was the team’s catcher. | Esteban Portillo/The Daily Cougar

Diedre Outon always wanted to be a pitcher, but her twin sister Haley Outon’s path to her own position was not as direct. Their mother Michelle was Diedre’s first catcher.

“Growing up, I played shortstop, but when Diedre began pitching, I had to start catching, after a ball tipped off my mom’s glove and broke her nose,” Haley said. “I stuck with catching and now love it.”

The impact their mother had on their lives extends beyond the softball field, which made losing her more difficult for the twins. Michelle died after an extended fight with cancer. Haley and Diedre now both have butterfly tattoos, which was their mother’s favorite symbol.

“Although my mom passed away almost three years ago from a five-year battle with leukemia, that did not stop me from following my dream,” Diedre said. “I know she still supports me now, and she has the best seat in the house.”

Diedre, who is three minutes older, and Haley said they have a great support system from their father, Glen Outon, and older sister, Mandy Outon, who the twins said have been supportive through tough times.

“My dad is a diehard softball fanatic,” said Haley. “He loves watching us, and softball in general, so he is at every game he can be at, even if it’s out of state. His presence in the stands always makes me happy knowing I have his support.”

When the time came for college, the girls decided that softball was their true love. Diedre and Haley visited other colleges together, but from the moment they arrived at UH, they felt they were home.

Diedre said playing with a twin gives the tandem a chance to perform better because Haley knows how to keep her calm. After growing up together, the girls have a close connection that allows them to play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Softball head coach Kyla Holas said she sees a lot of value in the twins’ performance on the field.

“Obviously, Haley is one of the best kids out there in the country, but I think we were one of the places that saw value in both of them, which was important to them,” Holas said. “Diedre is going to win a lot of ball games and do big stuff for us so we are really excited to have them.”

The two have become a tandem force on the field.

Haley was named the Conference USA preseason player of the year after leading UH hitters last year in home runs (22) RBI (64), batting average (.368) while finishing sixth in the NCAA in home runs per game. Diedre Outon threw a no-hitter last season against Memphis, where she struck out six of the first nine batters she faced.

Diedre and Haley have the same goal in mind for this year and their senior year: They want to make it to the Women’s College World Series. The next step in their lives, however, is still uncertain. They are both aware of the fact that after college, they likely will not get to remain together.

“It’s kind of weird to even imagine my life without Diedre by my side,” said Haley. “But I guess we will find out after college how that goes.”

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