PROVO, Utah — The BYU softball team will host Houston this weekend in a non-conference three-game series at Gail Miller Field on Friday at 6 p.m. MDT and Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT.
BYU quick hits
BYU is currently on a five-game winning streak, its highest of the season, after winning its home opener against Marist and sweeping San Diego in its conference opener last week.
BYU started the 2012 home season with an 8-0 record. Overall they were 17-1 at home, with the lone loss coming against No. 20 Hawai’i. This year they are 1-0.
Senior shortstop JC Clayton broke the all-time hit record at BYU in the team’s four-game series against USD. Clayton has 269 career hits and a team and conference-leading 44 hits this season. Clayton was named PCSC Player of the Week for the third time this year.
Senior Hannah Howell was named the College Sports Madness Pitcher of the Week for the PCSC. Howell went 2-0 last week alongside a 0.93 ERA and 13 strikeouts. She also got the first hit of her career against San Diego.
BYU has an all-time record of 1-3 against Houston and has never played them in Provo.
The Scarlet Cougars are sporting a record of 19-9 this season with an 8-1 record in the Conference USA standings. The team is led by head coach Kyla Holas who has headed the team since its inception in 1999. Since then, the team has had 11 consecutive winning seasons, five NCAA Regional appearances and two NCAA Super Regional Appearances. The Scarlet Cougars have four players who are hitting over .300 in senior Holly Anderson, freshman Katie St. Pierre, junior Haley Outon and senior Reina Gaber. With a .394 clip, Anderson leads the team in total bases with 56 and has a team-high seven stolen bases on the year. Outon brings power to the lineup with eight home runs to pad her .815 slugging percentage. Outon is also ranked 61st in the NCAA in home runs per game, fifth in walks, 16th in on base percentage and 12th in sacrifice flies. Houston has four pitchers on its staff who have made appearances this season but are led by redshirt junior Bailey Watts. Alongside an impressive ERA of 1.66, Watts has compiled an 11-2 record this season with the help of 71 strikeouts and a .181 opponent average. Watts numbers have placed her on the NCAA watch as well, ranking 51st in shutouts, earned run average and victories.
With the same number of games under each team's belts, BYU has out-hit Houston 229-200 so far this season, but the Scarlet Cougars have an advantage in extra-base hits with 43 doubles to BYU’s 27 and 17 home runs to BYU’s 8. BYU has an advantage at the mound with 157 strikeouts on the year to Houston’s 125 and in the field, turning nine double plays to the Scarlet Cougars' six. Houston will welcome No. 4 Alabama to its home field Wednesday night before traveling to Provo for the three-game series Friday and Saturday.
It was a slow start to the season for the BYU pitching staff, but after going 5-0 in its home and conference debut, the staff looks to be gaining confidence on the mound.
Tori Almond earned two wins in solid performances against Marist and San Diego. She pitched 13.1 innings and gave up only one earned run on seven hits. She held San Diego hitless in her 3.1 innings of work Saturday and ended the week with 12 strikeouts and a 0.53 ERA.
Hannah Howell, who picked up a majority of the innings due to injuries in the preseason, also got back on track. She earned two wins against San Diego and added 13 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.93 to her weekend stats.
Clayton has been as consistent as they come for BYU softball. The California native made an impact right away for the Cougars, starting in 54 games her freshman year. She had a career-high 80 hits that season alongside a .430 batting average and a career-high 56 runs scored. Her consistency throughout the season helped lead BYU to its first ever NCAA Super Regional against Arizona.
In her sophomore and junior seasons she started in every game and continued to add to her impressive freshman stats, leading the Cougars to two more NCAA Regional appearances and two conference championships.
In her first three years at BYU, Clayton garnered Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, Mountain West All-Conference First Team, Easton Second-Team All-American, NFCA All-Region First Team, All-WAC First Team and two BYU Offensive Player of the Year accolades.
At the beginning of this season, she was named to the Top 50 Watch List for the 2013 USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year. With four hits against USD on Saturday, she surpassed Angie Quiocho to hold the new all-time hit record with 269 career hits. Clayton also set a game record in game two on Saturday against the Toreros for stolen bases in a game with four.
“JC has been a cornerstone on our team for four years now,” Eakin said of her accomplishment. “She is a complete player. This record could stand for a very long time.”
Clayton is also second in career batting average with .403, fourth in career runs scored with 169, second in career triples with 9 and third in career stolen bases with 38. She has also won three of the seven PCSC Player of the Week honors so far this season.
Where to watch
Friday's game will be broadcast live on BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143, while Saturday's doubleheader will be broadcast via BYUtv.
Jamie Morris is the softball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.