Softball drops Big 12 Championship opener to Oklahoma State
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Junior righthander Jessica Hoppock scattered six singles and third baseman Shianne Cruce slammed a two-run home run to right center in the fourth inning, as No. 8 seed Oklahoma State upended No. 1 seed Texas, 2-1, in first round action at the 2006 Big 12 Softball Championship, taking place at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The loss knocks Texas, now 49-6, into the loser's bracket in the double-elimination tourney. OSU (21-27) used just two hits - a single and Cruce's home run, her second of the season, to upset the No. 2 nationally ranked Longhorns, who won the Big 12 regular season championship.
Texas next plays on Thursday, May 11 at 2 p.m (Central) in an elimination game. The Longhorns will face the loser of Thursday's 11 a.m. first-round game between No. 4 seed Texas A&M and No. 5 seed Oklahoma. Oklahoma State will square off against the A&M-OU winner at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Both the Big 12's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds went down in first-round action Thursday, as No. 2 Nebraska was upset by No. 7 Missouri, 3-0. It marked the first time in Big 12 softball history that the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds both lost in the opening round of play.
Oklahoma State had to play back-to-back games Wednesday night. The Cowgirls advanced out of the preliminary (play-in) round with a 2-0 play-in victory over No. 9 seed Iowa State in a game which ended just one hour prior to OSU meeting the Longhorns.
The Longhorns were hurt by stranding eight runners in the game, including four in the final two innings. OSU left four on base.
The Longhorns fell behind, 2-0, in the top of the fourth when Cruce cracked her two-run shot to right center field, a blast of 220 feet. Texas sophomore righthander and starter Meagan Denny issued a one-out walk to Kim Kaye, and Cruce followed with her game-winning hit. Denny then bore down and retired the side on a strikeout and infield groundout.
Texas had just three hits - all singles - through five innings, and rallies in the sixth and seventh innings fell short.
In the sixth, the Longhorns began the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles from second baseman Chez Sievers and rightfielder Amber Hall. Hoppock then retired the next three UT batters on a line drive to center, a strikeout and an infield grounder.
Texas pushed a run across the plate in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out RBI single to right by Sievers. The single plated Crystal Saenz who had reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on a walk to Desiree Williams. Williams moved to third on the Sievers' single. With runners at the corner, Hoppock got Amber Hall to pop to second to end the game.
Hoppock, now 14-21, picked up both wins on the day for OSU. In addition to yielding the six Longhorn singles, Hoppock walked three and struck out four, facing 30 batters in a complete-game stint. In the 2-0 win over No. 9 Iowa State, Hoppock recorded the complete-game shutout with a three-hit, 12-strikeout effort.
Denny was the hard-luck loser for Texas, as she goes to 17-5 on the year. Denny allowed just two hits - the Cruce homer and a Shanel Scott single in the fifth. She was lifted in the fifth with the runners on first and third and one out, following a walk and the Scott single. UT senior lefthander Cat Osterman came in to hurl the final 2 and 2/3 innings.
Denny faced 19 batters, yielding the two earned runs while walking three and fanning eight. Osterman struck out seven of the eight batters she faced down the stretch of the game.
Sievers and Jacqueline Williams each had two hits for Texas, with Sievers going two-for-four at the plate. Williams was two-for-two with a walk.
Junior RHP Pitcher Jessica Hoppock
We talked about trying to figure out how to get the intensity going in the early innings. I thought we did a great job in the second half of the game and you have to get that done early. I think we have the fire power in the lineup to get that done and were just kind of waiting around a little bit.
You know, it is okay to deal with a little adversity and do things the hard way sometimes. It will not be an easy path through the loser's bracket, but then again, it will prepare us for what may face us during the NCAAs. You are never going to have an easy path in the NCAAs. This might be a good dress rehearsal for us for things to come."
Sophomore RHP Pitcher Meagan Denny