Home runs doom Cougars against national champions
Alabama only needed two swings to defeat the Cougars 6-3 in front of a sold-out crowd, and two two-run homers by junior pitcher Jackie Traina sealed the Cougars’ fate.
The Cougars hosted No. 4 Alabama, the defending NCAA Champions, in a non-conference match-up in front of a record breaking crowd of 1,793 at Cougar Softball Stadium. Hot off a three-game series sweep of East Carolina, the Cougars came into the game having won 10 of the past 12 games.
“When big things and big people come in, the community really does a great job and comes out to support us,” said head coach Kyla Holas.
Redshirt junior pitcher Bailey Watts (11-3) pitched seven innings, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs. She said playing against a team like Alabama will help the team.
“It was really big deal, especially to have a sale out,” Watts said. “I think it was good for us to play a team like that. It’s good to have to step and learn how to play a different game,” she said.
Alabama started the game with a three-run first inning, highlighted with a two-run home run to left field by Traina.
The Cougars quickly responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first. Junior infielder Kendra Cullum got to first after being hit by a pitch, which tied a UH record for hit-by-pitches (31). After a couple of walks, the bases were loaded for sophomore infielder Kayla Holland. She hit a ball down the third base line, bringing Cullum home and inching the Cougars closer.
UH added two more runs in the bottom of the second after loading the bases again. Senior outfielder Reina Gaber had an RBI after a walk scored senior infielder Julia Pecina. Freshman outfielder Katie St. Pierre scored the tying run.
Alabama topped off the night with another two-run home run by Traina in the top of the seventh, which extended the Alabama lead by three.
“I thought we came out really excited, and we were really prepared,” said senior infielder Holly Anderson. “I think we had a lot of confidence coming out today; we weren’t intimidated. I think a game like this is very important, especially at this time in the season to see how we’re doing as far as getting better and preparing ourselves for the postseason and the College World Series,” Anderson said.
The Cougars are now 19-10 on the season and will play BYU in Utah for a three game series. The Cougars will return home for a six-game home stand starting with Lamar University on Tuesday.