#20 Houston Softball Preview

Houston Cougars

Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #1 Conference USA
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The Houston Cougars finished 2011 just one win away from the WCWS, dropping the deciding game by just one run.  This was the second time that Head Coach Kyla Holas has taken her squad to a Super Regional appearance in their four NCAA berths.  Holas, the only head coach Houston has ever had, guided the Cougars to their fourth conference title and their second most wins in school history, 44.  In 2011 Houston led the nation in team ERA and had wins over 13 Top 25 teams.  The Cougars return 9 letter winners and Coach Holas has her normal level of expectations for her squad.  “We always set our goals to win Conference USA and compete in post season for a chance for the NCAA title.”

2011: 44-18, 19-5
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kyla Holas, 12th Season

Field Players:
Houston brings back an experienced core.  Senior Conference USA Player of the Year Melissa Gregson hit .314 with a team high 16 runs and 47 RBI.  Infielder Jennifer Klinkert, who was Conference Freshman of the Year in 2008, comes back for her senior season after hitting .305 with 10 home runs in 2011.  1st Team All-Conference selection Holly Anderson led the team with a .339 average.  Catcher and outfielder Haley Outon brings back athletic ability and versatility.  She had a good start to her college career and was named to the Conference All Freshman Team.  Coach Holas looks forward to the season saying, “Returning these key players gives us the leadership we need to make a season both on the field and in the lineup.  They all have had a very good fall and set their goals for this spring even higher for this upcoming season.”

Replacing Amanda Crabtree and Donna Bourgeois is the biggest question mark for the 2012 Cougars.  2011 Conference All Freshman Team selectee, Diedre Outon appeared in 15 games, worked 60 innings, going 6-3, posting a 1.57 ERA.  Along with Outon, freshman Ty’ara Law, red shirt sophomore Bailey Watts and freshman Summer Groholski round out the pitching staff.  “Hopefully we have put together a group of ladies that can compete together to win us some ball games, but their youth is something that will just take time,” Coach Holas said.

Who to Watch:
Utility player freshman Kayla Holland will start in the outfield for the Cougars this season due to a mid-semester loss.  As a senior at Cy Fair High School, Holland was named Team MVP, District MVP and All-State.

Final Projection:
The Cougars start 2012 with a significant level of experience around the diamond but have a few question marks.  Holas commented, “Kayla Holland and Summer Groholski will need to be key people for us to be successful this season.”  Gregson, Klinkert and the Outon sisters will need to step up their game to help the Cougars return to a Super Regional, but Coach Holas is hopeful.  “Team wise this is a very special group with a lot of newcomers.  The returners set the bar very high, but so far this group just keeps reaching and exceeding them.”  The Cougars should again compete for the Conference USA title and have a chance to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Melissa Gregson, C, 175
Hits: Holly Anderson, IF, 57
Home Runs: Melissa Gregson, C, 16
RBIs: Melissa Gregson, C, 47
Runs: Holly Anderson, IF, 41
Stolen Bases: Holly Anderson, IF, 7

Wins: Diedre Outon, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Diedre Outon, P, 60
Strikeouts: Diedre Outon, P, 40
Saves: None