OKLAHOMA CITY – The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced today that Houston’s Reina Gaber (Whittier, Calif.) has been named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 14-20. The sophomore made two pinch-hit performances to lead Houston to two wins over then-No. 16 LSU, which helped the Cougars to their first ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 ranking of the year.
Facing LSU for the first time in the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational on Saturday, Gaber, a utility player, was called in to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning. She capped off the Cougars’ battle to overcome a 4-0 deficit when her long sacrifice fly to center field knocked in a run to tie the game 4-4, eventually sending the contest into extra innings. Houston went on to win 5-4 in eight.
"People around the game notice how difficult of a job that is to be the pinch hitter or designated player. To handle that pressure and perform at that level consistently is very difficult,” said Houston Head Coach Kyla Holas. “I'm glad to see people are recognizing her for that."
When asked to pinch hit again when the Cougars played LSU in the Classic’s finale on Sunday, Gaber shook off the pressure and produced for her team for a second time. With sophomore Ashleigh Jones on third in the bottom of the eighth, Gaber drilled a single to bring Jones home and bust up the no-hitter LSU starter Rachele Fico had kept alive for nearly eight innings. Houston defeated LSU again with a score of 1-0 in eight.
"I'm in shock, but really proud. I couldn't do the things I do without my team. If my team hadn't held off LSU and kept it at 0-0 all game, then I never would've had the chance to get that hit so it’s a total team effort,” said Gaber. "I hope that this is just one of many awards that brings out program recognition. We beat three ranked teams this weekend and we just want to work on getting better."
Gaber also posted a flawless 2-for-2 effort against Southern, collecting an RBI and a walk in the process to bring her weekend total to 3-for-4 with three RBI. With the 5-0 record on the weekend, it was announced that Houston is No. 23 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
This is the first-time honor for Gaber.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed four World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.