No. 2 Softball exits Big 12 Tournament with 5-0 setback to No. 16 Texas A&M
OKLAHOMA CITY -- No. 4 seed Texas A&M scored all five of its runs on a solo home run and a grand slam homer as the Aggies upended No. 1 seed Texas, 5-0, in an elimination game at the 2006 Big 12 Conference Championship taking place at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The loss was UT's second in two tries at the tourney, and sent the Longhorns home. On Wednesday evening, UT had opened play with a 2-1 loss to No. 8 seed Oklahoma State.
Texas becomes the first No. 1 seed in Big 12 Championship history to go 0-2 in tourney action. The Longhorns now stand 49-7 and await an at-large berth to the upcoming 2006 NCAA National Championships. The field, seedings, pairings and host sites will be announced on a NCAA Softball Selection Show on Sunday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m. (Central) via ESPNews.
The Aggies (33-16) used a solo home run by leftfielder Ronda Smith in the fifth, a grand-slam blast by designated player Jami Lobpries in the sixth and a four-hit shutout by Megan Gibson to upset the Longhorns.
All-America senior lefthander Cat Osterman took the loss for Texas. Osterman, now 32-2 on the season, yielded all five runs (all earned) on four hits as she pitched the first 5.1 innings. Those were the first earned runs ever given up by Osterman at the Big 12 Championship in her four years of performance. Prior to the fifth inning when she allowed a Smith's solo home run, Osterman had hurled a spotless 78 inning of Big 12 tournament pitching over her three-plus year career without allowing an earned run.
In addition to the two homers, Osterman fanned 12 Aggies, walked three, hit one batter and gave up two singles.
Up 1-0 going into the top of the sixth, the Aggies struck for four runs on three hits, one walk and one Longhorn error, scoring all the runs against Osterman. Gibson drew a leadoff walk, and with one out, Holly Ridley reached on a fielder's choice as Gibson advanced to second on a throwing error. Rocky Spencer then singled to right field to load the bases for Lobpries. Lobpries uncorked her fourth home run of the year to left field, a shot which traveled 210 feet.
That grand slam homer was the first Osterman has ever yielded as a Longhorn in her four-year career.
Texas left four runners on base, while the Aggies stranded seven. UT had four singles in the contest.
Gibson moved to 16-4 on the year with the victory. She struck out one and walked none in picking up the complete-game shutout.
The Big 12 Championship's third-seeded team, Baylor, also was sent home on Thursday after losing back-to-back games to No. 6 Kansas (5-1) and the No. 2 Nebraska (7-1).
The tourney continues on Thursday evening and all day Friday, May 12, with the championship round taking place on Saturday, May 13. For live scoring and more information, go to Big12Sports.com.
"This is the best Megan (pitcher Megan Gibson) has done. She was remarkable. She was ahead of hitters all day. This season whenever we have scored a bunch of runs in an inning, she has stayed sharp through the rest of the game and has gotten the job done. We stuck to our game plan facing Osterman today. We made her work and made her throw a lot of pitches, allowing us to get our timing down."
Texas A&M Designated Player Jami Lobpries
Texas Head Coach Connie Clark
I also want to credit A&M. They were very ready for us after just losing a really hard game this morning. Yesterday and today, we didn't bring what we needed to bring, unfortunately. Like I said last night (after the 2-1 loss to Oklahoma State), this group of players has not had to deal with much adversity. I think it's good to face it now and learn from it. Basically, it's re-group time. We have one more opportunity to win a championship."
On the pitching of Cat Osterman ... "Cat struggled a little bit. These outings for her are very rare. She is very disappointed right now. She did not want to end her Big 12 career this way. She missed some spots and seemed a little distracted. I just had to remind her that she - and our team - have done a lot of good things, and that there is life after today. We have another big opportunity coming up."