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Mrs. Kyla Holas , née Hall
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Kyla’s Hall weekend (Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame)
Glenn Guilbeau, Daily Advertiser, June 25, 2011
NATCHITOCHES â€” Kyla Hall Holas’ Hall of Fame weekend has been great, but it could have been perfect.
In the space of four days, she could have been introduced as LSU’s new softball coach on Wednesday, replacing her former coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, legendary Yvette Girouard, and enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame tonight as the first softball player inductee in the half century of the Hall. The second part will happen at the Natchitoches Events Center beginning at 5 tonight with Girouard introducing her.
That first part did not happen. Hall, the 39-year-old coach of Houston for 11 seasons with a 399-253-1 record, three Conference-USA championships and a 10-8 NCAA postseason record in four appearances, was on the list of six coaches Girouard recommended to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva months ago. But she did not get an interview.
On Wednesday, Alleva introduced Hall’s former assistant, 32-year-old Beth Torina, who was 129-111 in four seasons at Florida International in the Sun Belt Conference with one NCAA postseason victory, as LSU’s new softball coach. Torina was also on Girouard’s list.
“Can’t believe anyone associated with the softball program at LSU is very excited about this hire,” read an entry on
Tigerdroppings.com. “Oh my, how the great have fallen,” said another.
After the blockbuster hire and then change of heart of 13-year Alabama coach Pat Murphy for the highest softball salary in the country at $215,000 a year, Alleva went for the up and comer who turned around a losing program for the downsized price of about $100,000.
“LSU threw the bank at Murphy and is now settling for a very safe and underwhelming hire,” another entry said in the LSU chat room. “After you act like you’re going for proven, it’s disappointing to see that change,” said another.
“You’re just going to love this young lady as our new softball coach,” Alleva said Wednesday. “She’s smart. She’s unbelievably competitive. She has a great work ethic, and she’s really passionate about what she does.”
But on paper, Hall is much closer to Murphy than is Torina. Twice, Houston has come within one win of the Women’s College World Series, including this past season when the Cougars finished 44-18. In 2008, Houston also lost the best-of-three Super Regional, finishing 54-11. Hall has had 35 or more wins in six of her last 10 seasons. Torina’s best season was 38-21 in 2010 after she inherited a program that went 22-35 in 2007.
“I’m so happy at Houston and what we’ve done there and being able to go back home,” Hall, a Houston area native who lives in Pearland with her husband and three children, said after a Hall of Fame press conference Thursday. “But I would have loved to interview for that (the LSU job).”
Hall’s resume includes two crossovers with LSU’s new coach. She was Torina’s pitching coach at Florida from 1997-2000, and Torina was Houston’s pitching coach under Hall from 2003-07.
“I am so proud of Beth,” Hall said. “I coached her as a player (at Florida when Hall was an assistant there) and she worked for me as an assistant, so I’m excited for her to have her time.”
Hall, whose All-American pitching and hitting led Girouard and UL to their first Women’s College World Series appearance in 1993, believes the time was not right for her at LSU. She feels LSU was not looking for another version of the fiery and hard charging Girouard, who took UL to three WCWS appearances and LSU to two before entry into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005. She retired at the end of last season.
“You know, I think that Girouard and I are very similar in a lot of our coaching styles and philosophies,” Hall said. “And I think as a program at LSU, that was something that they were looking to kind of change up the environment a little bit. So I think some of those things kind of played a role in the direction that they chose to go.”
Hall said she has long had the intense label that Girouard also had.
“You know, I get that a lot,” she said. “I think a lot of people that do meet me, that’s one of the things that they notice about me is how tough I am and how intense I am. But I heard it said best just the other day. So many times I think people mistake that for what really is my passion. I think as a female I would like that word (passion) to be said a little bit more so I’m working really hard on making sure that people kind of change that in their mind. But I do think it’s a double edge, wholeheartedly. I think that if I was a male, that wouldn’t have been a question or a doubt at all.”
Girouard, who has remained close with Hall, said she did not want to comment specifically on her former player’s candidacy at LSU, but she did say that Hall overcame an early hurdle in her coaching career.
“Her biggest challenge was she didn’t have a lot of patience with players because everybody’s not as talented as she was as a player,” Girouard said. “That’s hard for coaches who were great players like Kyla, and she was the best player I’ve ever coached. She was an All-American pitcher and hitter, and she was such a great athlete. She could’ve played shortstop, too. But she has done a great job of becoming more patient with her players. She’s a great coach and has come within one game of the World Series twice. She’ll get there.”
Alleva declined to comment Friday on why Hall was not interviewed, but on Wednesday at Torina’s press conference he stressed the feedback he received from softball coaches and administrators around the country when he brought up his various candidates’ names.
“Everyone we called mentioned Beth’s name, and they said positive things about her,” Alleva said.
“We kept hearing her name and hearing her name. She loves to coach and to teach. When you put those things together, you’ve got a winning combination. She’s going to be an outstanding coach here for many, many years to come.”
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Hall of Fame highlights
Glenn Guilbeau, Daily Advertiser, June 25, 2011
NATCHITOCHES â€” When the inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame make their speeches tonight at the Natchitoches Events Center, they will have hard acts to follow after their performances in the kickoff press conference Thursday at The Landing restaurant. Here are a few gems:
Â» “I was always the fastest person I knew. Man, I was fast. I could pick cotton as fast as anybody â€” 200 pounds in 30 minutes,” said former NBA star Slick Watts, who grew up in Rolling Fork, Miss., before playing at Xavier in New Orleans and then for Seattle, New Orleans and Houston in the NBA from 1974-79. “From cotton picker to the Hall of Fame. Boy, only in America!”
Â» “I developed the headband,” said Watts, who lost his hair as a youngster. “I can’t say I did it for LeBron James because he choked in the playoffs.”
Â» “I was just happy to be there,” said former LSU second baseman and 1993 College World Series MVP Todd Walker of his rookie year in Major League Baseball with Minnesota in 1996. “I’d go skipping back to the dugout after I struck out in my first year. I remember standing on third base and Wade Boggs (of the New York Yankees at the time) says, ‘Hey, how you doing Todd?’ And I didn’t know where I was any more.”
Â» “There was no separation between his neck and his shoulders,” former Saints running back Buford Jordan said to explain the nickname he gave fellow Saints inductee Vaughan Johnson. “It was just like a big hunk of meat. So I started calling him Meat, and it stuck.”
Â» “The think about those kickers â€” I never liked them,” former Saints linebacker Johnson said as former Saints kicker and fellow inductee Morten Andersen sat nearby. “During training camp, we’re beating each other up from 6 a.m. to 11 at night, and they’re kicking back over there chilling. They practice two hours and go to the mall for six hours and get back at the end of practice. But one thing I can say when you put the ball down and the game’s on the line, I love me some Morten Andersen!”
Â» “It’s just kind of jaw dropping,” said former UL pitcher/slugger Kyla Hall Holas â€” the first softball player ever picked for the Hall. “I can think of so many great players before me and since that could have been the first. Lafayette just embraced every single one of our players. We were almost like celebrities in town. Being able to put those Ragin’ Cajun fans on a national scene in front of a live television audience at the first College World Series (in 1993) was something that I think was probably the highlight of my career.”
Â» “I tell people all the time, ‘I have never been to work a day in my life,'” seven-time state champion West Monroe football coach Don Shows said. “I know Morten has never been to work a day in his life. He’s a kicker.”
Â» “I didn’t know I was coming to my roast,” said Andersen, who worked enough to hold the NFL record for points with 2,544.
Â» “It was kind of like winning the lottery,” Shows said upon first hearing he was to be inducted. “It’s like winning a championship. There are about 15 minutes when a kid wins a state championship in any sport. They have a look on their face and in their eyes that they never have the rest of their life.”
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Kyla Hall-Holas was a fiery force on the softball fields at UL-Lafayette
Ted Lewis, The Times Picayune, June 21, 2011
In her 31 years as a collegiate softball coach at Louisiana-Lafayette and LSU, Yvette Girouard had more than her share of outstanding players — including 41 All-Americans.
But without hesitation, she declares Kyla Hall-Holas as the best she ever had.
“It was her determination, her grit, her just bring-it-on attitude,” Girouard said of Hall-Holas, a dual-threat talent from 1991 to 1994 at UL-Lafayette, where she was a two-time first-team All-American. “Kyla wasn’t scared of anybody or anything.
“She wasn’t just our No. 1 pitcher, but she was also our four-hole hitter, which is something you don’t see very often. Kyla was an exceptional athlete.”
Hall-Holas’ talents and contributions are being recognized this week when she becomes the first female softball player inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The ceremonies will be held Saturday night in Natchitoches.
“It’s a tremendous thing to be remembered for what you did,” said Hall-Holas, who has been the head coach at Houston for the past 11 years. “Especially when it was something you loved to do.”
That, everyone agrees, Holas-Hall did.
Growing up in the Houston suburb of Pasadena, Texas, where she participated in just about every sport available before concentrating on softball in her last two years in high school, Hall-Holas said she combined the athleticism of her mother, Virginia, with the workaholic mind-set of her father, Larry.
“I was a pretty good athlete, but I always felt like I had to push myself,” Hall-Holas said. “I’d do whatever it took to get better.”
That included almost obsessive watching of game film in college.
And it carried over to pushing her teammates as well, a foreshadowing of her career as a coach.
Once teammate and fellow All-American Lynn Britton was having trouble hitting the curve, and Hall-Holas volunteered to stay after practice, throwing Britton nothing but curves until she caught on.
Finally, at the end of the session, Britton said something Hall-Holas didn’t like. Hall-Holas retaliated by plunking her in the back with a ball.
Those were halcyon days at UL-Lafayette. The program, founded by Girouard a few years earlier had only recently reached full-funding status, and Girouard was able to put together a team good enough to reach the Women’s College World Series in 1993. The Cajuns finished third.
The key, Girouard said, was signing Hall-Holas.
“We’d been pretty good, but if you can get a great pitcher, then the rest will follow,” she said. “Kyla put us over the top.”
In the circle, Hall-Holas went 104-20 in her career, the best winning percentage (.839) in state history and one of the nation’s top 15 marks.
She had a lifetime earned-run average of 0.50. Of her 104 career victories, more than half (56) were shutouts, and she had 17 no-hitters, five of them perfect games.
And as if that weren’t enough, Hall-Holas compiled a career .301 batting average.
“I didn’t start out as a pitcher,” she said. “They put me just about everywhere.
“Pitching was just something else I was able to do.”
The UL-Lafayette softball teams were popular, drawing big crowds and becoming the toast of the town.
“The community was really behind us, and that was something we enjoyed wholeheartedly,” Hall-Holas said. “Going to the World Series allowed our fans to become legendary on a national scale.
“To be part of something like that is something you really can’t appreciate until you step away from it, but we really did.”
Hall-Holas’ playing career ended after she failed to make the U.S. National Team for the 1996 Olympics.
By then, Hall-Holas had begun her coaching career.
She started out at Northern Illinois, where she met her future husband, John, who was serving as the team manager while working as a graduate assistant. The couple has three children.
From there, Hall-Holas spent three years at Florida before Houston Athletic Director Chet Gladchuck hired her to start the program in her hometown.
The results have been outstanding.
Starting from scratch, Hall-Holas has produced five NCAA Tournament teams, including this season’s club, which went 44-18 and reached the super regionals, falling to Oklahoma State in three games for a berth in the WCWS. The Cougars reached the super regional by beating Hall-Holas’ alma mater in the Austin Regional, gaining a measure of revenge for a super regional loss to the Cajuns in 2008.
“Obviously, we were happy to advance,” Hall-Holas said of this year’s victory. “But I wished it could have been against somebody else.”
While Hall-Holas’ coaching success is of little surprise, Girouard, who will be presenting Hall-Holas on Saturday, did have doubts that her former player’s demanding nature would serve her well as a coach.
“It can be hard when you’re coaching players who aren’t as good as you were,” Girouard said. “I’ve had to remind her about being patient.
“But Kyla wants to help them so much, she’s managed to make that adjustment.”
Hall-Holas acknowledges that she has had to change with the times.
“I gave up a long time ago on finding kids just like me,” she said. “This group we had this year was pretty happy-go-lucky, but they still had the common denominator of wanting to win.
“We had fun, but it took a lot of work to get them as far as they did.”
So much was she into the work of coaching her team, Hall-Holas said, it was only in the last few days that she has given any thought to Saturday’s induction.
“I’m such a workaholic,” she said. “My mother and husband finally had to sit me down and make me get them (the Hall of Fame) the stuff they needed and to think about what I’m going to say.
“I hear it’s a fun weekend. I’m really looking forward to it.”
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Softball – Pioneer inductee: Ex-UL star Kyla Hall Holas first softball player in state Hall of Fame
Bruce Brown, Daily Advertiser, June 17, 2011
Kyla Hall Holas will be inducted into the state Hall of Fame for softball.
She’s Kyla Holas now, and she’s coaching the University of Houston instead of playing, but you get the feeling she would suit up today if given the chance.
Holas will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 25, the first in her sport to be so honored, but she downplays her role as pioneer.
“When you’re in the heat of the moment, that kind of thing doesn’t seep in,” Holas said, one day after coaching Houston past her alma mater in NCAA Regional play. “It’s the kind of thing you realize in hindsight.
“It (pioneer status) was never my intention. It was what I loved to do.”
She still loves growing with the game, years after her playing career.
“You keep learning,” Holas said. “You have to find different ways to reach athletes. You have to get to know them and understand them. As long as they’re learning the game, you can be flexible. But there are certain things that have to be done correctly.
“If you do those things, you can do other stuff that’s yours. You have to be flexible, yet firm.”
It’s the flexible part that some former teammates might find amusing.
“The players around her played better, because she demanded that they did,” said Yvette Girouard, who created the UL program and retired this year as LSU’s coach. “If you dropped the ball, you’d better field it.”
Girouard recalled one event that illustrated Hall’s legendary intensity.
“Lynn Britton couldn’t hit a curve, even though she was a four-time All-American,” Girouard said. “So one day, Kyla threw her curves until Lynn learned how to hit it. They worked until we turned the lights on at the park.
“Finally, Lynn hit it. But then she said something about it, and Kyla hit her in the back with the ball! Kyla wanted to raise that performance, and she was willing to help, but she’s still got that fire inside her.”
That fire hasn’t changed. Holas led her Houston team to its second NCAA Super Regional in 2011, capping a 10th straight winning season for a UH program she built from scratch, much as Girouard did at then-USL.
The latest Cougar team has tested flexibility for the famously intense coach.
“This team had to do a little growing,” Holas said. “They are a loose, fun-loving bunch, and that wasn’t the type any of us coaches were as athletes. We were aggressive. If you punch us, we punch back. At first we didn’t realize this difference. These kids love the game, and still have fun.”
Tempramental differences aside, the Cougars have a perfect role model in Holas, a three-time All-American (twice first team) and led the Ragin’ Cajuns to the school’s first appearance in the Women’s College World Series and a third-place finish in 1993.
In Hall’s four-year career from 1991-94, she compiled a 104-20 record (.839) for the best career winning percentage in state history and one of the nation’s top 15 all-time marks. She compiled a career 0.50 ERA, including an 0.23 mark in 1992 which ranks in the NCAA’s all-time top 20, when she had a 30-4 record. She topped that with a 31-3 record as a senior in 1994, which also ranks in the NCAA’s top 20 all-time marks.
The Cajuns had a combined 155-24 record her final three years, and she had a win over top-ranked Arizona in the 1993 WCWS. Hall also hit third in the batting order and ranked second on the team in hitting as a senior.
More than half of her career wins (56 of 104) were shutouts, and she holds school records for no-hitters (17) and perfect games (five).
“She was a bulldog,” Girouard said. “She had a take-no-prisoners attitude. She was an incredible athlete who could hit in the No. 4 hole for us. She could have been a shortstop. She was an athletic pitcher, not just a thrower. She simply refused to lose.
“She was one of the premier pitchers in the game, and I think these days she would be just as good. She’s still the best player I ever coached.”
“I remember being obsessive about the details of the game,” Holas said. “I would study film and break things apart until Girouard would tell me to stop. I truly think that separates good from great. That negative, breaking that down â€” that’s where I live, where I work. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“I used to love to practice. Working hard is exciting to do. I loved and hated every minute of it. Even now, I can’t wait for practice.”
The Cajuns’ breakthrough to the national stage was not repeated in 1994, reflecting the transitory nature of success.
“That was clearly the high point,” Holas said of the 1993 squad. “I wish we could have repeated in my senior year. No matter how many times you go, the World Series is special, unique. That experience changes lives.
“Getting there is not something that can be measured or boxed. It takes the ‘it’ factor, a timely hit, the right 10 people in the lineup. It’s not always the 10 you’d choose, but it’s the right 10. When it’s right, you know it.”
Holas majored in psychology at UL, a perfect field for getting inside athletes’ heads. She never had a doubt about her own mind.
“She wasn’t too tolerant of players who couldn’t match her talent,” Girouard said. “I told her, ‘You’re special; you have to be patient with others.’ I’m sure it’s still hard for her. I guess she’s found that balance.”
As long as her players play the game the right way, balance can be a part of the game for Holas.
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Softball: Holas Set to Join LA Sports Hall of Fame
2011 LA Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration Schedule of Events
June 16, 2011
Induction dinner tickets and golf entries are available online at the www.lasportshall.com website for the 2011 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration upcoming June 23-25, with UL Ragin’ Cajun softball great Kyla Hall Holas joining three New Orleans Saints stars — Morten Andersen, Vaughan Johnson and Buford Jordan — headlining this year’s inductees.
Tickets and golf entries, along with congratulatory advertising for the commemorative program, can be ordered with secure credit card transactions through the website or by calling the Hall of Fame office at 318-238-4255.
The Induction Dinner and Ceremonies presented by Chesapeake Energy on Saturday evening, June 25, at the Natchitoches Events Center are the culmination of the 2011 Induction Celebration beginning Thursday evening, June 23, with the La Capitol/Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Kickoff Reception.
The Hall of Fame Pro-Am Celebrity Golf Scramble sponsored by Encana is Friday, June 24, at Oak Wing Golf Course in Alexandria.
Joining Holas, Andersen, Johnson and Jordan in the 2011 induction class are Todd Walker, the LSU All-American and 12-year major league baseball infielder, and Xavier-New Orleans and NBA standout Donald “Slick” Watts, among the eight 2011 inductees who will enter the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Also being enshrined are high school football coaching great Don Shows and innovative LSU athletic director Thomas P. “Skipper” Heard completing the Hall’s 2011 induction class. Heard will be honored posthumously.
New Orleans native Elmo Adolph, a world-renowned boxing official, and former Lafayette High School basketball coach Billy Montgomery, who as a highly-regarded state legislator championed sports causes including construction of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum, are the 2011 recipients of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award.
Also honored will be two recipients of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, New Orleans sportswriter Ron Brocato and longtime Southeastern Louisiana University sports information director Larry Hymel.
Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremonies are $40. Golf entries are $150 per player or $750 for a five-man team. A wide variety of congratulatory advertising options are as low as $25 for a one-line message.
Holas, a three-time All-American — twice a first-team selection — was a record-setting pitcher who led the Ragin’ Cajuns to their first Women’s College World Series in 1993. She will become the first collegiate softball player enshrined in the Hall of Fame and only the second softball player, joining Softball Hall of Fame pitcher Bobby Spell.
In her four-year career from 1991-94, Holas compiled a 104-20 record (.839) for the best career winning percentage in state history and one of the nation’s top 15 all-time marks. She owns a career 0.50 ERA, including an 0.23 mark in 1992 which ranks in the NCAA’s all-time top 20, when she had a 30-4 record. She topped that with a 31-3 record as a senior in 1994, which also ranks in the NCAA’s top 20 all-time marks.
The Cajuns had a combined 155-24 record in her final three years, and she had a win over top-ranked Arizona in the 1993 WCWS in leading the Cajuns to a third-place national finish. More than half of her career wins (56 of 104) were shutouts, and she holds school records for no-hitters (17) and perfect games (five). Holas also hit third in the batting order and ranked second on the team in hitting as a senior.
Married with three children, the Sugarland, Texas, native is now the successful head coach at the University of Houston, having guided her 2011 team to a Super Regional.
Complete information on the 12 honorees, along with the complete rundown of events from June 23-25 including headquarter hotel information, is available on the www.lasportshall.com website, or by calling the Hall of Fame office at 318-238-4255.
— Ragin’ Cajuns —
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Softball: UL vs. Houston filled with subplots
The competitive history between UL and Houston provides enough of a reason to follow what happens when the two teams face off at 4 p.m. Friday in the opening game of the NCAA Austin Regional.
Some of the additional subplots only add to the intrigue between the 25th-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns (49-9) and Houston (40-16).
Going into the postseason the Cajuns hold a 12-4 all-time record against Houston, winning six of the past seven matchups.
Three years ago the Cajuns beat the Cougars twice in a best-of-three Super Regional for a berth in the Women’s College World Series. In October the Cajuns played Houston in a fall scrimmage and rallied for a 7-5 win on Sarah Draheim’s two-run homer in the seventh inning.
Off the field, Cajuns co-head coach Stefni Lotief and Cougars coach Kyla (Hall) Holas are former All-America pitchers for the Cajuns. Plus, pitcher Donna Bourgeois â€” a Teurlings Catholic graduate â€” played three years for the Cajuns before transferring to Houston in January for her senior season.
Instead of focusing on those storylines, Lotief has asked for people to pay more attention to what the two teams have done on the diamond.
Riding an 11-game winning streak, the Cajuns recently won the Sun Belt regular-season and conference tournament championships. Houston shared the Conference USA regular-season crown this year with Tulsa and have 10 wins over top-25 opponents.
“When you get into the postseason there will be subplots and stories here and there and things that come up,” Lotief said. “I think the biggest thing is the celebration of this team and what they’ve been able to accomplish this year with the adversity, injuries and ups and downs that come in a season.
“They’ve been steady and dedicated since August and haven’t let anything get in their way.”
University of Houston spokesman Alissa Bauer said Monday that Bourgeois would not be made available for comment on the upcoming series.
This season Bourgeois was Conference USA’s Newcomer of the Year after going 16-6 with a 1.68 ERA in 28 games. Houston’s top arm is senior Amanda Crabtree, who has an 18-8 record and 0.94 ERA with 314 strikeouts in 179.1 innings in 34 games this season.
In three years with the Cajuns, Bourgeois posted a combined 69-24 mark and was a three-time all-conference selection and two-time LSWA All-Louisiana Pitcher of the Year. Last year she went 23-10 with a 2.01 ERA and 31 complete games and was first-team all-conference, second-team all-region, Sun Belt tournament MVP and LSWA All-Louisiana Pitcher of the Year for a Super Regional squad.
Bourgeois has declined to publicly comment on why she left the Cajuns and ultimately landed in Houston.
Holas, a three-time All-American who played for the Cajuns from 1991-94, shared her view of Friday’s game against her alma mater on Monday.
“We play them year-in and year-out, and we’re very clear on how good of a ballclub they are,” Holas said. “We even had the chance to see them this fall. We know it will take our best game against them, or any opponent we face at this point in the season, to win.”
Holas said Monday that she was still trying to decide on her rotation for the upcoming regional. The Cajuns are led pitching-wise by redshirt junior Ashley Brignac, who is 30-5 with a 1.24 ERA this year after sitting out last season following shoulder surgery.
Crabtree and Bourgeois have helped the Cougars post the nation’s top ERA (1.28) this season. That duo will now try to slow down a Cajuns offense that leads the country in runs scored per game (7.91) and is ninth in team batting average (.333).
“I think Donna is an asset to any program,” Holas said. “We consider ourselves lucky to have her for her senior year and are very happy with the contributions she has brought to our team this season.”
Meanwhile, Lotief is eager for Friday’s game to finally get here.
“There will be a lot of hype around the game and maybe some issues that will come up,” she said. “But I think by and large if we take care of the bat and the ball we’ll have a good chance.”
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Softball: Former UL star familiar face – in foe’s dugout
Hall’s softball team to face Ragin’ Cajuns
For long-time Cajun softball fans, a familiar face will be in the first-base dugout today when the University of Houston invades UL’s Lamson Park for a 4 p.m. softball doubleheader.
In fact, Kyla Hall Holas is Cougar through and through by now, as the only coach in the history of Houston’s softball program. She’s focused on keeping her squad near the top of Conference USA and chasing the program’s second NCAA Tournament, goals that are on track with a 32-12 record and a 13-2 C-USA mark.
“Our whole philosophy is to build a program that wins our conference, goes to the Regionals every year, gets to the College World Series and just sets a standard of excellence,” she said. “We’ve improved every year.”
But the former Kyla Hall won’t have any problem finding the park and recognizing some familiar surroundings, most notably the wall in right field where the Cajuns’ College World Series appearances are listed.
Holas was the key to the Cajuns’ groundbreaking World Series appearance in 1993, when she finished off a 29-3 junior season with two Series wins including a 1-0 win over eventual national champion Arizona. She lost a heartbreaking 1-0 pitchers’ duel with UCLA’s legendary Lisa Fernandez in a game that determined one national title game berth.
The next year, her numbers were even better. She set school records with a 31-3 record, 21 shutouts, eight no-hitters and five perfect games.
Her 104-20 career record and .839 winning percentage ranks her 14th in NCAA history, and her 0.50 career ERA is still a school record.
Holas coached at Northern Illinois and Florida before coming home, taking on the challenge of a new program not far from her Pasadena, Texas, hometown. Her team won 22 games in its first season in 2001 and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2004.
“I feel like we’ve taken all the bumps we needed to take,” Holas said. “I feel like we’re right on target, right on track with our goals.”
The host Cajuns have different goals today. UL will be trying to recover from five losses in its last six games, snapping a four-game loss streak in a Sunday doubleheader split at South Alabama. UL dropped to 24th in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, with Houston third among the teams receiving votes in that poll.
UL will also be trying to build momentum for a key Sun Belt Conference series this weekend, with the Cajuns hosting league-leading Troy Saturday and Sunday. If the Cajuns are going to build momentum, they’ll have to do it against Conference USA Pitcher of the Week Angel Shamblin (21-5, 1.07), the first 20-game winner in UH history and the Cougars’ all-time career win leader.
Houston (32-12) at UL (35-12)
4 p.m. today (DH), Lamson Park
RADIO: KPEL-AM (1420) with Steve Peloquin, air time 3:30 p.m. TV: None.
TICKETS: Available at Lamson Park gate at 2:30 p.m.
SERIES: UL leads 4-0 with two wins in UH’s inaugural 2001 season and two wins in 2002 in UL’s Louisiana Classics tournament.
LAST TIME OUT: UL split a Sunday Sun Belt Conference doubleheader at South Alabama, winning 5-4 in 10 innings and losing 8-0 in five innings. UH took two of three games in a Conference USA series at Texas-El Paso, winning 5-3 and 9-1 around a 171 loss.
PROBABLE PITCHERS: UL, Brittany Cuevas (Fr., RH, 22-7, 2.05), Holly Tankersley (Jr., RH, 11-4, 2.52) and Shari Sigur (Fr., RH, 2-1, 2.96). UH, Angel Shamblin (Jr., RH, 21-5, 1.07) and Barbie Love (Jr., RH, 5-4, 1.27).
LEADING HITTERS: UL, DP Holly Tankersley (Jr., R-R, .369, 12 HR, 44 RBI), OF Karli Hubbard (So., L-R, .326, 9 RBI), SS Codi Runyan (Jr., R-R, .288, 10 HR, 40 RBI). UH, SS Jessica Valis (So., L-R, .373, 2 HR, 9 RBI), OF Katie Bush (So., L-R, .344, 6 RBI), C Elaina Nordstrom (So., R-R, .304, 7 HR, 27 RBI).
NEXT: UL hosts Troy, Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m., Lamson Park.
Originally published April 18, 2007
Now officially into her third year as head softball coach at the University of Houston and coming off a winning season in 2002, Kyla Holas continues to focus on solidifying her squad and building upon the Cougars’ success. With her third recruiting class on board as well as a healthy roster, the Cougars plan to dominate early season tournaments and compete for the conference title.
For the 2003 season, Holas has added four top-notch freshmen to her already-talented young team.
ï¿½All of our newcomers are going to come in and challenge for positions immediately,” stated Holas. ï¿½Their ability to challenge returning players for a starting spot should push the team as a whole to perform at the highest level.”
The incoming freshman also will add depth to the Cougar team, an experienced and talented group despite their relatively young age. The added depth is a breath of relief, considering it was one thing Holas lacked during her first season with the Cougars.
ï¿½We always need to recruit more depth,” said Holas, ï¿½You can never have too many players come postseason.” Holas lives by her coaching philosophy: ï¿½Expect to win!” Her theory has proven successful to this point. Though she may seem disciplined and focused, she wants all of her players to know what it takes to become a successful athlete.
ï¿½Being obsessive about details,” commented Holas. ï¿½The little things are what separates the All-Americans from everyone else.” Her dynamic personality, work ethic and past accomplishments as a player and coach make the program’s sky-high outlook seem very realistic.
Since coming to Houston, Holas and her staff have worked endlessly to build a program focused on winning and high academic standards, all of which are paramount to the student-athletes on the Cougar squad.
In just two seasons, the program has produced six All-Conference players and five All-Freshmen, including Conference USA’s 2002 Freshman of the Year, Kristen Glowacz.
Academic standards for which Holas has set for her team have been a staple of the program both in Conference USA as well as University of Houston Athletics. In 2002, seniors Ali McDougal and Riane Netardus were both named Verizon Academic All-Americans for District VI, while Amber King garnered a C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal. In addition, eight players earned recognition to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the 2001-02 academic year.
Holas came to the Cougar program from the University of Florida, where she was responsible for developing the pitchers and catchers for three seasons previous to her arrival at Houston.
While at Florida, Holas served as the camp director, coordinated travel and was involved in student-athlete evaluations and practice planning. Holas had been instrumental in aiding four players who earned five Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll awards and one player who was named a 1997-98 second-team GTE Academic All-American.
Prior to her stint at Florida, Holas spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University. While at the DeKalb, Ill., school, Holas tutored the Husky pitchers and coordinated the academics for the team. She coached the1996 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Player of the Year, pitcher Angie Zuspann, as the Huskies reached the NCAA Regionals for only the second time since 1988.
Despite all the success she has experienced in her playing and coaching career, Holas hopes her players realize her intentions, ï¿½I know what they are going through,” added Holas, ï¿½I was there just like them.”
As a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana-Lafayette) and a three-time NCAA All-American, Holas set seven school records in pitching and compiled a career .301 batting average. In 1993, Holas led the Cajuns to a third-place finish in the College World Series while receiving all-tournament accolades. She was a two-time finalist (1993-94) for the prestigious Honda Broderick Cup, a national award given to the top female student-athlete at the NCAA level. In 1999, Holas was inducted into the Louisiana-Lafayette Hall of Fame.
A native of Pasadena, Texas, Holas enjoys going to movies, cleaning house and doing yard work, while spending time with her family. Holas and her husband, John, reside in Pearland, Texas, with son, Payton, and daughter, Brenan.