No. 5 Texas 8, Long Beach State 4
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) went a season-best 3-for-4 with two runs scored and sparked a five-run fourth inning as the fifth-ranked Texas softball team came from behind to defeat Long Beach State, 8-4, to win Pool D at the Kia Klassic and advance as one of only two undefeated teams into Championship Bracket Play. Wynter Turner (San Pedro, Calif.) went 2-for-3 with two RBI in Friday evening's game.
With the victory, Texas (22-3) pushed its season-long winning streak to eight games and evened the season series with Long Beach (16-11), who defeated UT, 1-0 in 8 inn., at the Palm Springs Classic in late February.
The Longhorns now advance to championship bracket play with a 3-0 record in the tournament and will face No. 21 Arizona State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Central. The Sun Devils were the second-place team in Pool A, earning a 2-1 record against No. 11 Oklahoma (L, 6-1), Syracuse (W, 4-0) and No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette (W, 5-1). Live Stats for the UT-ASU game will be available at TexasSports.com.
The three through eight hitters in Texas' lineup each recorded at least one hit as the two teams played in constant rain and on a muddy field. The Horns and 49ers combined for five errors, as UT had three to snap its 14-game streak without committing an error.
After Long Beach jumped on the board in the bottom of the second with two unearned runs, Texas responded two innings later to take the lead for good. Sievers led off with a single to center before Long Beach starters Meredith Cervenka walked Desiree Williams (Tucson, Ariz.) to put runners at first and second. Jacqueline Williams' (Arlington, Texas) infield single loaded the bases, setting up Rachael Cook (Anna, Texas) who singled in both Sievers and Desiree Williams to knot the score at 2-2.
Christina Gwyn (Keller, Texas) gave UT the lead for good when she singled in Lacy Robinson (Highlands, Texas), who was running for Jacqueline Williams. Turner stepped up next and bunt singled to reach first, but moved to second when the throw to first sailed to foul territory, allowing Cook and Gwyn to move to third. Melanie Jarrett (Odessa, Texas) squeezed in Alexis Garcia (Covina, Calif.), who was running for Gwyn, to push the score to 5-2.
Sievers scored again in the fifth when she led off with a bunt single and came home when Turner drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk.
Texas closed out its scoring in the top of the seventh, benefiting from 49er defensive miscues. After Cook reached on a fielder's choice, she stole second and then came home when Garcia's grounder was misplayed by Long Beach. Garcia then moved all the way to third on back-to-back wild pitches from Cervenka, scoring on Turner's double to center.
After the two early unearned runs, Texas starter Meagan Denny (Crowley, Texas) settled down and retired six of the next seven batters, allowing only a two-out double to Jones Perez in the bottom of the fourth. However, in the bottom of the sixth, she gave up a lead-off solo home run to Marcel Torres which pulled Long Beach to within three runs at 6-3. After hitting the next batter, Denny was lifted for Lizi Sowers (Georgetown, Texas), who saw the hit batter cross the plate after a Longhorn fielding error with two outs. After escaping the sixth with a two-run lead, Sowers forced a 1-2-3 seventh inning to earn her first save of the season.
Denny (4-0) earned the win, going 5.0 innings while allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out six and walking one. Sowers was credited with the save after 2.0 hitless innings in which she struck out one.
Cervenka (9-5) took the loss, throwing the complete game and allowing eight runs (six earned) on nine hits while striking out six and walking six.