Building House

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

“The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose.”--Sir Edward Coke, 17th-century English jurist

To the casual observer, the home of BYU softball is Gail Miller Field, one of the largest and most beautiful collegiate softball fields in the state. But to Cougar softball fans and the team, there is a much more important “House.”

Now entering her senior year, 5-foot-4 Las Vegas native Kristin Delahoussaye is, more than ever, the solid foundation the Cougar softball team is built upon.

“She is one of the most complete players I have ever coached,” said BYU softball head coach Gordon Eakin. “She’s been a team leader from the first day she’s got here.”

House began playing baseball with the boys and her cousins in backyard pickups games starting at age five. At age 12, “the boys got bigger, and I decided maybe switching to softball was a better idea,” House said.

Yet the sport still did not come easily. As House describes it, “I’d hit the first base dugout every time. Getting the ball in between the lines was a mystery to me.”

Rather then move on, House’s family, specifically her grandpa, Les, began practicing. Starting in eighth grade, Grandpa would throw side toss or set balls on a tee over and over again, giving his granddaughter 100-200 swings every day from then through her high school career. For another hour, House would go to the diamond for defensive practice, chasing ground balls and working on footwork one-on-one with her coach.

The practice paid off. After attending a camp at BYU, Eakin watched House at a tournament in Colorado. After the weekend’s games were over, Eakin knew she needed to be in the program.

House didn’t disappoint, earning Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year and MWC First Team honors her first year as a Cougar in 2008. Since then, she has started all 175 games she’s played in during her career and is known as one of the best defensive infielders in the country. Last season, House was again named first team All-MWC in addition to being honored as an NFCA/Louisville Slugger Pacific All-Region First Team selection after leading the conference in assists and setting the MWC record for a junior with 55 runs.

When asked her specialty, House is quick to respond with a stat not in the boxscore.

“I’m really loud,” said the senior. “Everybody knows that I’m loud. I get excited. And if the job isn’t getting done, I’ll have it get done.”

It would hardly be fair, however, to believe the senior leader is a taskmaster. Instead, House’s energy and enthusiasm mostly goes toward keeping the team loose and positive.

“House is very vocal but very encouraging,” Eakin said. “She’s not afraid to express her emotion.”

The second baseman’s hard work and emotion have combined to make her one of the best players BYU has ever seen. House will likely finish in the top five all-time at BYU in career runs, hits, doubles, walks, assists and at-bats and the top ten in career batting average, total bases, RBI and triples.

“I want to do my job,” House said. “I’m not the person who wants to be the All-American. I want to get the job done and do what my teammates need me to do. That’s the plan.”

Case in point: down 8-6 but with the bases loaded in the bottom of the final inning in the NCAA Regional against the host, No. 12 Texas, BYU needed a hit. So many times, the Cougars had reached the first round of the NCAA tournament only to fail to get over the edge and advance to the next round.

Luckily, it was House’s turn to bat. Stepping up to the plate, the junior blew off any jitters and did what she does best, hitting a double deep into centerfield to tie the game. BYU scored the game-winning run on its next at-bat, then easily handled East Carolina to earn its first-ever trip to the NCAA second round Super Regional.

House and the Cougars would end their season there, but House sees the experience as a catalyst to keep moving forward in 2011.

“Last year we were in a Regional and knew we were going to win a Regional. This year now we know we can go to a Super Regional, win a Super Regional, and get to the World Series,” House said.

Regional, Super Regional, or World Series, by June of next year House’s playing career at BYU will have to come to an end. A great player and better person will have moved on to the next phase of life. But no matter the last name, no matter where she goes, to the BYU softball team Kristin will always be their House.